|Wildcat11 embracing his inner A/V geek.|
Ryan Carlson (AKA: RC, Catdomealumni, Wildcat11, etc.) is a Linfield legend.
He may be blushing reading this, and I may have had to pull out a strong guilt trip to make this article happen, but guess what Ryan? You hired me so I get to write all the nice things people told me about you with zero hesitation.
I’ll say it again; Ryan Carlson is a legend and was destined to become a Wildcat.
His father graduated Linfield in 1972; so, it’s safe to say his blood always ran purple and red.
“I can remember my dad sending me to a football camp at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls in a Linfield jersey,” said Carlson. “I didn't understand why I was getting so many harsh comments from the OIT staff!”
Knowing he wasn’t ready to hang up his cleats after high school, he chose the small college route and, in 1994, rolled in to the Catdome as a student-athlete for the first time.
“Ryan was probably the best big game player I have coached,” said Coach Smith. “The bigger the game, the more sacks he had and the more tackles for loss he racked up. Ryan was the first great tactician defensive end we have had in a great line of dominant pass rushers during the era I have been at Linfield.”
“We teach many of his moves to this day. He was the grandfather to Summers, Hedin, Hyland and now Hoff.”
After graduating, Carlson knew he wanted to remain connected to this program and considers himself, as “one of those guys the staff couldn’t get rid of.” He began as Coach Vaughan’s headset cord jockey and helped the program in anyway he could before finding his true calling in 2006.
“When Coach Smith was named head coach, he asked if I wanted to take over the responsibilities of making the team highlight videos,” said Carlson. “I said yes before really thinking about it as I've NEVER done any editing in my life or really picked up a video camera.”
Fun fact: Coach Smith used to compile and edit the clips into the yearly highlights and Carlson still uses his template to this day.
After being disappointed with his first attempt, Carlson swore that if he was going to do these videos, he was going to do them right. That’s when he caught the Audio/Video bug and the Catdome blog was born.
“His videos speak to young men like no other,” said Coach Smith. “Not only does he inspire our players and our coaches, but he is our greatest recruiting asset. There is no professional service out there that can outperform Ryan in this. I truly believe he, by himself, is better than most ANYTHING I see on TV done with teams of people.”
Carlson is more than just a man with a camera and a brain full of creativity. He truly cares about the members of this team, school and community.
“I broke my leg to conclude my junior season and for a time being I was really in the dumps,” recalled Dom Forrest, class of 2014. “Ryan was one of the first people to reach out to me.”
Carlson sent this:
Dom, I don't know when you might see this but wanted to drop you a note to wish you a speedy recovery. Missed you tremendously on Saturday. I think that not only are you a hell of a player, but more importantly, a better young man. Heal up and hope to see you soon.
“The words meant a lot, but the fact that he reached out to me meant even more,” said Forrest. “I think it shows why people respect and care for RC so much in this community.”
True to form, however, Carlson lists everyone else as the reason for his success before he credits himself.
“I wouldn't be able to follow the 'Cats and pour all of this energy into the program without having someone who always has my back and that's my wife, Kelly,” said Carlson. “She's ALWAYS encourages me to chase the 'Cats and is my sounding board with my videos and the blog. I know if she asks to watch something again, that I have a winner.”
Along with Kelly, he credits the trust between himself, the staff, the players and Coach Smith for being able to do what he does.
“You can’t just walk in to a locker room and start pointing a camera in people's faces,” said Carlson. “People will say that my videos are so great but really 99% of that comes from what the team puts on the field. It's pretty easy to make great highlights when the 'Cats rip off one great season after the next. ”
That is hard to argue with. However, the boys who are on those videos, Ryan, think they can’t do 99 percent of that without Wildcat11:
“Ryan is not only important to Linfield football, he is critical to our success.”
“RC is everything you want from an alumni, friend, and supporter of Linfield Football.”
“The thing I remember the most about RC is his passion on the sideline and how into each game he gets. He truly loves Linfield Football as if it were his own child and you are reminded of that with each and every thing he does.” –Brian Balsiger
“I can say my favorite memory now and will always be seeing Ryan on the sideline of our games especially on the road. There is a feeling and sense of comfort knowing that we have Ryan on our side. He is a huge part of our program and we would not be complete without him. Having Ryan with us ensures that our family is together.” –Coach Hire
“He means the world to us, he's part of the family, and he does a great job of showing to the public what Linfield is all about.” –Kyle Chandler
“No matter how much praise we give Ryan, his work will still not be appreciated enough. Thanks RC.” –Steven Schultz
“Catdome wouldn't be the Catdome without Carlson. I'm honored to be apart of the same program as him.” –Eric Pitassi
“There is not a more loyal man on the planet, and I know that if I were hanging on to a rope for my life, he would be one I would want holding that rope.” –Coach Smith
I know for me, thrilled doesn’t even begin to describe my excitement when I got an email from Ryan asking to write for this blog. Last year during my senior project with the baseball team, I got a tweet from @catdomealumni complimenting my work and I screamed. No joke, you can ask my roommates or Prof. Huntsberger, who I emailed immediately to brag to.
I’m gushing, and I could go on and on but, in conclusion, I’ve loved getting to write about this team. I strive to do work like Ryan’s.
And so, on that note, I’ll leave the ending to him:
“There are other places that have newer facilities or cooler ‘stuff’ but what this program has makes cool helmets or fancy stadiums look trivial and meaningless.
Linfield has a spirit and heart that connects nearly 60 years of football players together as one family. It's a feeling of belonging to something greater than yourself and a brotherhood that goes beyond a game and that will last a lifetime.
And all of that can be said in one simple word....'Catdome.”