Monday, February 23, 2009

Player Blog: Ian Estrada "On The Comeback, Again"

Battling back from a season ending injury is tough. But coming back from multiple season ending injuries? That kind of heart and desire takes a special person to fight through the mental and physical pain to battle back with no guarantee that you won’t get seriously injured again.

Right now, one of your ‘Cats is in the midst of that battle and I asked him to share his story about his comeback (again) to finish his playing career at Linfield next season. Defensive lineman Ian Estrada (Jr. Kailua, Hawaii) is a standout young man and should be an impact player for the ‘Cats next season on the defensive line, scars and all.

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Being all the way from Hawaii, it's not as easy for my family to come up and watch Linfield play on Saturdays, so they have to rely on the internet broadcasts and news articles to hear about the games. Some of my family tries to come up once a year to watch a game, but for reasons I am going to explain they're always too late. Next season my mom plans to come as early as possible because the past three seasons have ended much sooner for me than I'd ever wanted or expected.

So just to get them out of the way, here are a few reasons for having short season: my sophomore year I tore my right ACL the last day of fall camp during the afternoon scrimmage, junior was a little longer and I made it to the second game of the year against Hardin-Simmons where right before the half I sprained my right AC joint. I didn't think it was that bad so I decided to go back in the second half and left the game with two badly sprained AC joints that severely affect Defensive Tackle play, with all the striking and use of the shoulders, it pretty much ended any hopes for a successful season. Then there was the broken hand during spring ball that kept me from spring training and practices. Finally, this past season I tore my left ACL in the third game against Menlo. So to sum it all up I've had three surgeries in the last three years, probably over $100,000 in medical bills, thank God for insurance, and a secondary residence in the Athletic Treatment Center.

When VP (Dr. Van Patten) did the standard knee ligament check on me after being helped off the field against Menlo, he uttered a word that I wouldn't use in front of my mom, and I knew it was all over. I seriously thought I would never play football again. The tears started to form and all the images of crutches, limping, surgery, painful rehab, and more started to run through my head.

I’m not going to lie and say knee surgery isn’t that bad, because it is. They don’t just give you vicodin for the pain, they straight up shoot morphine into your knee. I decided to stay awake for some of the surgery this second time, and it sounded like the doctors were constructing a house on the other side of the curtain that blocked my lower half. Sawing, drilling, and hammering is what I heard, and a brand new ACL made from my patellar tendon was the result. Over the roughly 5 or 6 month rehab period, you painfully try to decrease swelling, rebuild muscle in a leg that feels like jello, regain full range of motion, and learn how to walk and run again.

I know that there are far more worse things that happen to other people in the world, but this is my life and my trial. Why me? Why my other ACL? I could understand if my ACL that had already torn once snapped again, but why the other one? I never questioned God's reason for letting it happen, I was just in absolute confusion as to what I was going to learn from this second ACL tear. I told God, "I've already been through this trial, and I thought I passed. Why do I have to do it again?"

In all honesty, I don't know the answer to that question still. But what I do know is that a chance to play Linfield football again is on the minds of hundreds of former Wildcats, and I will not live the rest of my life in regret and thinking what could've been. The concept of Linfield football is almost "ineffable", which means it cannot or should not be expressed in spoken words, its almost sacred. If playing another season of Linfield football means I get to play for guys like Coach Smith, Vaughan, and Thorson, and be on the field with players like Jay Jack, Nish, and T Chuck, then by all means I will do WHATEVER IT TAKES. I have the assumption that if I were at any other program I would've hung up the pads already, but it's not even about me anymore. I am consumed in this Linfield family and it doesn't want to let me leave. I really owe Jaymin Jackson a lot for the constant encouragement to play again. Jaymin would always say, "Who am I gonna run Flop Canes with next year?" Also the example set by "Old Man Rivers" Scott Olsen, who I understand now, just couldn't move on with his life until he gave Linfield everything he had, meaning one last season.

Will my knee hurt throughout the season? Yes. Am I going to have arthritis waiting for me in the future? Most likely. Full knee replacements? Very Possible. However, these things are really hard to focus on when all I can think about is running out of that tunnel, rushing that QB, and chanting "Linfield Wildcats" with my teammates after a hard fought game.

Lots of people told me I was crazy to think about playing again, and suggested I rethink my decision of coming back. Yes, to the logical person in their right mind would probably listen to their body and say, "hey man, I'm done. My body is just not made to play this sport." However, I refuse to do that, and I will listen to God who has given me more love and passion for this team than I have ever had.

-Ian Estrada (Class of 2010)

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-Photo courtesy of Linfield S.I.D. Kelly Bird

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jaymin Jackson is a fan of "The First 48"

The Greater Saint Helens League football website (GSHLfootball.com) covers all that is high school football in the greater southwest Washington area. The site has been running an interview series with former High School players from the area that have moved on to the college game and recently this past week they ran an interview piece with our very own Jaymin Jackson who is a Columbia River Grad (Vancouver, Wa.). Jaymin is a two-year starting Linebacker for the 'Cats and has been named to the NWC all-conference team twice and is poised for a standout Senior season.

Link: GSHLfootball.com's The Next Level with Jaymin Jackson

Monday, February 16, 2009

Red and Purple Interview: Linfield's Tyler Matthews

Welcome back to the Red and Purple Interview! I had the absolute pleasure of talking with former Linfield great, Tyler Matthews about his standout career at quarterback for the ‘Cats. It’s the most in-depth interview to date and a fantastic read for any Linfield Faithful. Tyler was not only a great player but is a fantastic person that makes Linfield all that much more special. A big thanks for Ty for being so open and such a great interview. Go ‘Cats!
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(Wildcat 11) Let's go back to 2001. You're a Redshirt Sophomore and going into fall camp the quarterback position is wide open after Curt Musser graduated in 2000. You and Freshman Blake Kluse are in a tight battle for the job. You actually start the first two games of the year with a win over Whittier but then came the dreaded game down at Southern Oregon where the 'Cats were shut out 29-0. At that point the staff went with Blake exclusively in the next game vs PLU where the 'Cats dropped a close game 31-20. So this young group is 1-2 and Linfield heads down to Menlo where the Oaks were currently ranked #9 in the nation.

The team is struggling to be productive and the 'Cats are down 27-9 in the 3rd quarter and Coach inserts you in the line-up to try to spark the team and next thing you know you're throwing 3 huge touchdown passes and lead the 'Cats to a great 30-27 come from behind victory and the job was yours.

Can you recall how you felt headed into camp that year and did you ever doubt yourself after getting benched after the SOU game? I know you and Blake were very supportive of each other but what was the competition like? Also, what happened during that Menlo game that made everything click for you and the offense?

(Tyler Matthews) I would say that coming into camp in 2001, I felt "fairly" confident. I had a decent year the year before, and learned so much about being a quarterback from Musser. He and I became pretty close during his last year, and he was an awesome guy to learn from. He loved playing the game, was a phenomenal athlete, and all the guys rallied around him. I remember telling my parents after his senior year, "I'll never be as good as that guy." What most people probably don't realize about me is, I really wasn't all that special coming out of high school, and had always struggled with confidence. I had good fundamentals and understood the game, but I ran a 6-flat 40, and could bench only 185 (that is no joke). The best I did in high school was 2nd team all league, and as a team, our best year was 6-3. Confidence was a big struggle for me coming into Linfield.

I doubted everything about myself after getting benched. I honestly felt after the SOU game that Blake was the better QB. I remember missing a Friday meeting after the 9/11 catastrophe, and Coach calling me into his office and asking me if I still wanted to play the game. Nothing felt right at that point. Blake got beat up during the first half of the Menlo game, and I think he may have had a minor concussion by half-time. Coach came over to me late in the third quarter, hit me in the forehead with his play sheet, and said, "Warm up." I honestly can't tell you what changed in me, or how in the world I overcame all the self-doubt I was dealing with, but for the first time in my life, I went out like I had nothing to lose and played football. It's one of the few times in my life I honestly felt like God picked me up off the ground. He just showed up that day. There is really no other way to explain it. That, and I had Justin Hubbard on my team. Marcus Ward caught the winning touchdown, but the funny part was James Yen was wide open down the field and should have been the one I threw the ball to. Yen is another guy that never got enough credit for what he did on the field. He was one of the smartest football players I'd ever played with.

As for Blake and I, over the course of that year, we became really close. I would not have had the success I did if it weren't for him. He accepted his role, and was right beside me every day that year and the years to follow. I wish more people could know his story, and know the sacrifices he made to never get any of the spotlight.

(WC11) After that win versus Menlo the team really took off. We've talked to Daryl Agpalsa in the past about the 2001 playoff snub after winning 6 straight to finish 7-2 and tied for the NWC title but how satisfying was 2001 for you on a personal level after you finish the year strong and being at the helm of a team that was playing such great football?

(TM) It was a good feeling, for sure. Again, for the first time in my career, I felt like I was starting to play to my potential. The best part was I knew we would only get better. We finished the year as well as a team could, and the talent we had coming back was nothing short of special. I felt really bad for the seniors that year though. I think with the level we were playing at, we could have gone pretty deep into the playoffs. That said, the exciting part really was knowing the momentum we had going into the next year.

(WC11) People that have followed this blog know I'm a huge "mark" for the 2002 team. That team had such great chemistry, toughness, and passion. Can you talk about the vibe coming into that year and did you know that this was going to be a special team?

(TM) I somewhat answered this question with my last response, but I would have to agree with you on the "mark" for that '02 team. We flat out ran over people that year. Now before I get into this, I hope you will allow me to talk about the 2003 team following this question. I hold a special place in my heart for that team, which I'll get into later. That said, the 2002 team probably was the best team I've played on, and no doubt was one of the best in Linfield history. Our offensive line was flat-out dominant, and I believe there wasn't a team in the country that we couldn't handle on the line. David Russell was the equivalent of 2 players on the field. I could write a book about that guy, not only about the player he was, but the man he was. We all joke about how he is up in Alaska now, killing polar bears with his bare hands. I remember after the Whitworth mud fest, and his 56 carries for 240 yards or whatever, the next morning he was in the weight room doing power cleans. Enough said.

I think everyone knew that 2002 team was special. There was a buzz around campus that hadn't been there for many years. Everyone knew it. When we lost to St. John's in the Quarters, it felt surreal. Taking no credit away from the Johnnies and their program, we just didn't click that day, and that was the only game we did that year. It was really unfortunate. But our team had the chemistry, talent, the entire package to win it all, I felt. It was one of the most balanced teams you could imagine, both in terms of football and the quality of guys. I loved that team. Now can I talk about 2003?

(WC11) OK, OK of course we can talk about 2003. It was an incredible season for sure and while people knew the 'Cats were going to be competitive, folks were not 100% sure just how good this team was going to be. The team lost David Russell, Luke Bucheitt, Mike Cooney, Daryl Agpalsa, Ricky Gaspar, and a host of great seniors from that 2002 team. The '03 team featured a crop of younger and less experienced offensive players named Casey Allen, George Carter, Brandon Hazenberg, Brad McKechnie, and Thomas Ford. Going into the season did have any idea just how good these guys were going to be for you and the offense especially after loss of that great '02 senior class? You had to feel that it was going to be hard to replace all that was lost in 2002.

(TM) Like I said, the 2003 squad holds a special place in my heart. But ok, Wildcat11, if you really want, we can talk about your '02 squad some more. The funny thing about this question is, I remember Kluse and I going for the famous Friday Bento before our first game against Redlands, and he asked the same thing: "How good to you think we are this year?" I can't remember exactly how I answered him, but I remember thinking that if we got through Southern Oregon, I thought we could go undefeated again. But you're right: that 2002 team was hard to beat. When you lose a senior class like that, especially from a leadership aspect, you wonder how you can compare. I guess you hope you can follow their lead and keep building on what they left behind, and hope you can make them proud.

(WC11) So the 'Cats open '03 with a blasting of Redlands and then was one of the most incredible football games I've EVER witnessed when Linfield travel down to Southern Oregon for a great 47-42 win. There was so much back-and-forth and so much offensive fire power on both sides of the ball. You had a wild game in throwing for over 347 yards and 5 touchdowns. I swear it felt like you threw about 20 deep balls that game. Tell us about that game, just how important was that win for the '03 team, and can you ever recall another game where you felt that on-target with your deep ball and that it seemed like you couldn't miss?

(TM) It's funny: a game that was considered "wild" was just another day at the office for one Brett Elliott! What can you do? In all seriousness, going back to that Southern game, it was flat-out fun. A couple things that stand out for me: first, you have to take into consideration the emotion for our team in winning that game after losing our emotional leader, Ray Lions, the game before. That was such a heavy, heavy blow for Ray and for the team. But his attitude following his injury carried us into the Southern game, and I believe it showed on the field. Ryan Boatsman had a cell phone in the huddle right after the game ended, and called Ray with all of us right there. We yelled, "We love you Ray," and that capped the night. There aren't words to describe what that game meant to our team.

The second point that I think defined us in that game was actually a penalty. If I remember right, we had something like 2:30 left on the clock in the 4th quarter, and we were down (again) 42-40. Coach called another deep ball, and I hit Casey Allen in the end-zone, only to have it called back on offensive holding. For some reason, I glanced real quick at the guys huddling up, particularly Marcus Ward, and I knew right then we would win. No one's head was down. In fact, nobody really said anything. We just huddled up, got the play, and played football. We scored a couple plays later on a fake quick screen to score what would be the game winner. Now here's the cool part: I don't think a single player or coach on the Wildcat sideline let their guard down until Ty Smith picked off (SOU’s QB) Woodward's last pass. I think everyone was so focused and so into the game that we believed it would take 60 minutes to win, and it did. I do believe that game was a defining moment for Linfield football over the next few years, considering all that went into it and the expectations that had been placed on us. Looking back on it for me, personally, it was the best game of my career. I had a few other games that were better statistically, but overall, this game defined me as a quarterback. It was fun.

(WC11) On a side note, one thing I was curious about is how much liberty did the coaches give you on the field in terms of audibles and allowing you to gamble on the field? Where you encouraged to change plays if you saw a favorable match-up?

(TM) This is another funny story. We had a game plan that keyed on one of Southern's linebackers: depending on what side of the field he lined up on, we knew if they were bringing pressure. So every time he lined up on the "wrong" side, Coach told me to check the play and throw a quick pass. One of Southern's corners started to pick up on one of my audibles and jump my throws, almost picking me off at least once. So late in the first half, during a time-out, Coach gave me the green light to go after him. On the next play, sure enough, their linebacker showed pressure, so I audibled to a hitch-and-go for Josh Armstrong. The Southern corner bit hard, Josh scored, and Coach showed us the tape after the play of this corner walking back to his sideline hitting himself in the side of the helmet. We owned him from that play on. I think that game gave Coach more confidence in me, particularly in my play-calling on the field.

Fast forward to St John's that year: we were down 7-0. We were stalled around mid-field, it was third down and long, and I was looking to the sidelines for the play. The play clock was running down, I could see Loce talking into his headphone, so I walked into the huddle and said, "Screw it. Let's test them. Ford Dagger." I hit Casey down the right sideline, and the very next play, Loce called the same thing to the other side of the field, and we scored. Pretty cool.

(WC11) So after that win over SOU, the 'Cats continue to roll for the remainder of the regular season and finish 9-0. Playoff start and once again Linfield downs Redlands (bet you never tired of beating them) and then you had the rematch with Wartburg. However, the powers that be deemed Maxwell field to beat up to play so they move the game down the Willamette. The game was a thriller where Wartburg tied the game at 20 each with 1:21 left in the game and then you lead a drive to set up the Garret Wales game winning field goal with no time remaining. The first play of that last drive was a quick fade to Casey Allen that broke for 35 yards and put the ball deep in Wartburg territory. Was that play called in the huddle or was that changed at the line once you saw the match-up? The offense did struggle in the 2nd half of that game but did you know the Offense felt confident on that last drive? Also, did have any doubt that Garret was going to miss the kick?

(TM) I never tired of beating Redlands. As for the Wartburg game, that quick fade to Casey was something we had worked on all year. Throwing it high and behind Casey made it really difficult for anyone to defend, especially on big guys like George and Casey. Another great story: I had the privilege of sitting with our coaches in the press conference following the game. One of the reporters asked the question, "That fade route to Casey Allen looked like the ball was underthrown. Tyler, talk about that play and Casey Allen's ability to make the big play." Loce grabbed the mike and said, "It was designed that way. Tyler didn't underthrow that ball. He put it right where I told him to, and Casey did what he does best." Thanks Coach. All those receivers-- George, Casey, Kech, Haze, Army-- made my job pretty easy. All I had to do was get it out there (in some cases, throw it as far as I possibly could), and they would come down with it.

Our offense did struggle in the second half. Actually, late in the first half, I took a hit on the sideline that did something to my throwing shoulder. The following week, I didn't throw a hard ball until Friday in Minnesota. After that, going down to Mexico (to play in the Aztec Bowl), I couldn't throw until Wednesday, and even then it was still really sore. I'm telling you, God showed up for me during the St. John's game and allowed me to play, because I was pain-free during the game on only some ibuprofen, yet my shoulder immediately hurt when the game ended. I was very blessed. As we did all that year, though, during the Wartburg game, we held to our motto, "Believe." No one doubted. Garret Wales, as funny a guy as he was, was able to hit the big kicks. I had no doubt he would make that kick and win it for us, but you have no idea how happy I was to get off the field that day. I know this is a QB thing to say, but I wanted no more of what Wartburg was dishing out.

(WC11) As a fan I can still remember headed out the Minnesota when Linfield played Saint John's in the west region finals again. Two undefeated and top ranked teams going head-to-head in the freezing cold and it was another classic game. Really it was anybody game until SJU was able to get a lead late to only hold off a last minute rally from the 'Cats . We all know SJU went on to win the National Title a few weeks later but is there any consolation knowing that Linfield was the only team to push SJU to the limit during the post-season and just came up a few yards short of going to Salem, Va.?

(TM) There is no consolation for not winning a game, let alone a national title. Again, our motto was "Believe", and that was what made that 2003 team so special for me. The group of seniors we had that year, as far as leadership and character goes, I don't think will ever be matched. Of course I am biased, I admit, but the way we all hung together and literally believed we could win it all made that year the best year of my football life. I will say this, to any Johnnies out there who might read this: if I had to choose a team to lose to, as much as I hate losing, I would choose St Johns. Hands down they were the classiest football team I ever played against. They didn't help you up after plays like some teams do, didn't have any weird chants or circus acts, but they came to play and let their play do the talking. No trash talk, no cheap shots, nothing. I suppose I am speaking from one side of the field-- I would be curious to know how our D felt-- but again, they were fun to play against. But you have no idea how hard it is to lose to the same team, by the same amount, in the same game two years in a row. I will stop there.

(WC11) I can understand that. Let's move on from that subject and step back and look at the big picture of your career. You went 27-3 as a starting quarterback, completed 58% of your passes (468 of 808), 2nd all-time in school history with 6,798 yards passing, 2nd all-time in school history with 69 passing touchdowns, Linfield male athlete of the year (03-04), Aztec Bowl selection, and your senior year you were named a 1st team All-American by the AFCA. While I understand that no individual can accomplish all of this without great teammates this is a pretty remarkable resume considering, as you stated, you were full of self-doubt as a sophomore. After your senior year if you could have gone back in time and shown Ty Mathews of 2001 what was in front of him as a quarterback, would he have believed it? Along with that, tells us what that resume means to you as a Wildcat?

(TM) With the history that Linfield Football carries, and the endless list of amazing athletes, to be considered a part of that history really is special. I'm gonna be brutally honest here. Going to Virginia in 2004 to watch the Cats win the national championship was somewhat hard. I felt like those guys accomplished something that we couldn't. Yet it was overwhelming to be able to watch all those guys that we had played with a year before win that game, and see a joy on their faces that you can't see anywhere else. They were the best in the country in 2004, and that squad will go down in history as one of the most electrifying teams ever. I think that anyone that played or coached the years before, all the way back to the beginning of the streak, could feel like we had a hand in that championship. That's what means the most to me. I remember Chris Boock and a bunch of those guys coming over to the stands after the Championship to shake our hands. To those of us there, that meant the world to us. It made us feel like we were a part of it.

(WC11) After graduation you went abroad to play football in Europe for a couple of seasons and played for the Franken Knights. I take it living abroad and playing football was a unique experience. What kind of impact that did that time in Germany and Europe have on your world view and what was the football like?

(TM) I'll give you one sentence on what the football was like: Wartburg came over there to play us, of all the teams, and absolutely demolished us. Enough said. But as far as the experience goes, it would take me months to write about it. The cool part about the Wartburg game was, afterward, a bunch of their players came out on the town with us and hung out all night. They remembered Bertsch and I, and though they were pretty upset still that we beat them two years in a row, they were all super cool. One of them thought my wife, Molly, was German, and tried to buy her drinks! It was great.

I came away from that time with some friends that I will have for life. One of my lineman from Holland has been over here to the States four years in a row for Thanksgiving. I would strongly encourage anyone who is just graduating, or who wants a change of pace for a few months, to go live abroad. It opens up your views on everything. We were able to travel a lot, and meet so many different kinds of people. Although for the most part we were very well received, there were a few skeptics of having Americans come play with them. I vividly remember a guy named Grundman (pronounced GROOND-man) who was our best defensive lineman. The first day of practice, I tried to say hello and introduce myself in German. He wanted none of it. I don't think he talked to me for the first half of the season. He warmed a bit as the season wore on, and then after the season was over, he and 4 or 5 other guys took a "holiday", as they call it, down to Italy. Molly and traveled around a bit before meeting them down there at the beach. I found myself playing catch with him in the shallow surf of the Mediterranean, and he told me,"You know, in the beginning, I thought you were another stupid American who just wanted to make nice and play cool. Now I know you are a good person." There is story after story of experiences like that for Molly, Bertsch, and I. It was hands down one of the greatest experiences of my life.

(WC11) I know you have been back in McMinnvile for a few years now. Can you catch us up on what you are up to now? Have you started a family and what are you doing with yourself professionally?

(TM) Molly and I are new parents. Our daughter Maya is almost 6 months old now, and holy smokes does it change your world. It is the greatest thing you could imagine. I know I've written a small novel in this interview, but Molly does a great job keeping our friends and family up-to-date on our blog. If there are any wives out there reading this, check it out: www.lifeonbirchstreet.blogspot.com. I currently work for Wells Fargo in the McMinnville branch as a Licensed Banker, handling accounts and some investments. I enjoy it very much. I am not sure what my long-term plans are-- being a dad for now-- but life is great for us. We have so many great friends and family in the area, and I can't imagine trying to raise a little baby girl without that support. I am a firm believer in the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." We are very grateful to all those around us helping with our little one.

(WC11) For the past couple of years you serve in the capacity of team Chaplin. Can you tell us how that came about and what specifically is the role of the team Chaplin at Linfield? People around the program know that you are a man of faith and very spiritual. How big of a role and influence did your faith have on your days as a football player at Linfield and now as a member of the McMinnville community?

(TM) I was driving down to interview with Mark Wickman, a linfield grad who is a CFP here in Mac, when HD Weddell called me on my cell. Anyone who knows H knows the guy doesn't need any kind of introduction. He was the Chaplain for over 20 years, and during my time at Linfield, I missed one chapel before the home games. His stories, and his way of getting us fired up before the games, were unlike any pastor I'd ever listened to. He called to tell me he was moving away, and he wanted me to take over as chaplain. My initial response was, "No way." Since that time, my role is still evolving. I'm not sure how God wants me to do it just yet, but currently I talk to the guys before each home game, and try and be available when life happens off the field. It's an awesome way to stay involved, and the honor of following in H's steps is indescribable.

My faith is the only thing that kept me intact during that hard stretch in '01, and the only reason I finished school. God reminds me so often of what is really important, and always finds a way to humble me just when I think I'm starting to fill my shorts out a little. It is my hope that my story can resonate with some of the guys that come through this program, and maybe even carry with them once they're gone. I wrote Matthew 28:20 and John 3:27 on my wristbands for every game. I will let you look those up!

(WC11) Well Ty, we've covered a wide scope of materials and that you for taking part in the interview. If you had one piece of advice to share with a current Wildcat that might be reading this interview, what would you say?

(TM) Enjoy the ride, and don't take any of it for granted. Whether you fail to make it out of training camp your freshman year, your career ends with an injury, or you play all 4 years, the day you hang them up will be the day you miss football the most. You will miss every part of it, from the locker room to the practices in the freezing rain to the smell of game day. Football will be the best classroom you will have at Linfield, because of the way it is taught and the values that are instilled, and the lessons it teaches you from failure to success to not getting your way. But the key is, you have to buy in. You will get nothing out of football, or anything in life for that matter, if your whole heart is not in it.

Quick hitters:

Tell us your funniest on the field story of you career?

I was a sophomore backing up Musser. We were in Puyallup taking on the Lutes, and Muss and crew took it to them pretty good that day. Coach put me in late in the game, and we drove down to the one-yard line. I was pretty nervous, but playing ok, and I walked up to the line of scrimmage. It was third down, I think, and I started my cadence. Out of my right earhole, I hear someone saying rather sternly, "Ty, check to Badger." 'Badger' was a play designed to our fullback right up the middle, if I remember right. Not sure what to do, I stuck with the play-call and continued with my cadence. The next thing I know, Luke Bucheit comes out of his stance on the right side of the line, takes two steps toward me, and literally screams, "Ty, CHECK BADGER!!!" After wetting my pants, I called timeout, walked over and and asked Loce if I could call Badger, because Buch was going to kill me if I didn't. He said ok, and we scored. Among many other things, I am thankful to my coaches for saving my life that day.

Your favorite all-time Linfield Wildcat?

That's kind of a no-brainer. Anyone who puts this together and is known as Catdome Alumni would have to be my favorite. Actually, I remember you being on the field the first day of practice my freshman year, and Curt Musser saying, "Want to know what an All-American looks like? Right there. That guy is the real deal."

In all honesty, there are too many to name. This might seem kind of, uh, brown-nosy, but probably one of the guys I respected the most was Blake Kluse. Again, no one knows how supportive he was of me throughout my career. Most guys, after losing their starting spot, would have hung 'em up. But not only was he there every day calling plays and helping me read defenses, I think he would say we were genuine friends. We had a cool relationship. And man, we laughed like little kids when we traveled with Muss and his Jim Carey moves. Muss is another one. Gosh, there are just way too many to name, so I'll stop there. I'd have to give some attention to Brodie "Big Play" Unger. He's still around here and hangs out with us and Maya a lot. Quality dude.

Do you like the All-Purple uniforms the 'Cats break out once a year?

I have to be honest: no. However, HUGE fan of the all white. I'm still mad at Marcus Ward for not letting us go all white for the SOU game our senior year. He thought it would be bad luck. However, I do owe that guy my career (he caught the winning touchdown at Menlo), so I can't get too mad. All white is my favorite combo, and I never got to wear it. Those guys look so fast in all white.

If you listen to music before a game what band/artist did you have to listen to?

Ha. I probably shouldn't answer his. In high school, I listened to the usual, Def Leppard, Metallica, AC/DC, etc. It took me until my sophomore year to realize that got me too wound up, so I went the exact opposite. Before games I listened to George Strait and the Braveheart theme songs. Slow and mellow, baby.

Best 40 time?

4.68, twice in a row my junior year. Coach Smith timed me-- he will prove it. I don't know whether that's good or bad, but that's as fast as it got.

What was more fun: I.M. Hoops or I.M. Softball?

IM Hoops, by far. I became a better basketball player in college, just because I allowed myself to have fun and not try and actually be good. I got a little stronger and could throw down every once in a while too, which was fun. The IM hoops at Linfield was always fun and competitive, and everybody played. I definitely miss those nights in the gym. Thanks for letting me do this, WC11. It's been a while since I got to take a trip down this Memory Lane. A big shout-out to all my fellow 2003 seniors. I miss all you guys. Congrats to Ray and Mandy and their new little cub on the way...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pacific's A.D. makes his pitch for football

A little over a year ago Catdomealumni.com interviewed Pacific University Athletic Director, Ken Schumann, about the possibility of the Boxer football program coming back from the dead. At the time, A.D. Schumann said the Pacific athletic department is over half way to their goal of 1.5 million dollars needed to restart the program. He also stated that while 2009 would be the most optimistic goal of football back at Pacific it would be most likely that 2010 would be the target of the University.

One year later and A.D. Schumann made his pitch to Pacific's "College of Arts and Sciences faculty". As reported by Pacific’s student newspaper, The Pacific Index, A.D. Schumann presented a 5-page document that contains the proposal to bring back football.

From the Pacific Index: “The five-page document points to two main reasons why the football program should return to Pacific: the university needs some modest growth to keep our budget afloat, and football would bring the male/female proportion closer to even (it currently sits at 66 percent female, 34 percent male).”

Below is a link to the proposal from the athletic department (as well as projected numbers) that the faculty will vote to either allow the department to continue working towards securing the funds needed to green light the program or will vote to kill the movement. As of now that 1.5 million dollar figure has not been reached and the shortfall of dollars was not provided.

While the Football Revenue & Expense Template was interesting to review (The travel figure of $50-$64K looks really low unless Pacific is not planning on flying down to Menlo) but the real fun is in the questions section that have been asked by faculty where A.D. Schumann has to talk realllllly slow to the faculty members that think if Pacific brings football back that the campus is going to be overrun by a bunch of 300 pound plus thugs who are not smart enough to even be accepted by Western Oregon’s fast food style admissions department.

This is a true gem:

Question: “Football players are unhealthy because of their size; the sport is rife with 300 pound lineman.”

Answer: “While that might be true for Division I and II, it is not true for Division III. Of the 623 players in our conference (NWC), only 14 (2%) weigh from the high 290’s into the 300’s. Northwest Conference linemen (typically about 28% of a roster) average about 250 pounds.”

So all 14 of you FAT BLOATED linemen in our conference might want to mix in a salad and drop some LBs so you don’t go around scaring the Pacific faculty and help swing a few “no” votes to “yes”.

In all seriousness, I’m really pulling for this to happen and to bring the total number of NWC football playing members to 8, or we can keep it at 7 and just tell Menlo to go pound sand as an independent member again.

Here are the links:
Red and Purple Interview: Pacific A.D. Ken Schumann
The Pacific Index “University entertains football proposal”
Support for Starting a Football Program at Pacific University (Proposal)
Projected cost and revenue breakdown

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Video remodel almost complete

If you have been watching old video clips on Catdomealumni.com recently then you have noticed that the great majority of the embedded YouTube video player clips have been replaced with a bigger and cleaner video player. I’ve been working on this for over the past month but the transition to Catdomealumni.com videos being exclusive to our site is almost complete. YouTube has been a very serviceable host but I grew tired of the lack of quality playback, the time limit the site places on vids, and that it just felt a little hollow that the heart of Catdomealumni.com was hosted somewhere else.

What does this mean for you? Well, for you that work at companies that block YouTube you will never be denied watching your favorite Linfield football videos while taking a break from the job and overall you will get to enjoy a higher quality of video.

Catdomealumni will still use YouTube for some clips (HS football camp, etc) but for the most part I hope you all enjoy the new video player. If you can’t view the clips you can download the newest flash player right from the Adobe website (trust me, it’s safe)

Speaking of videos we are just three Monday’s away from the start of Catdomealumni.com’s 4th video season (Monday, May 4th). We’re going to kick it off with the Team Introduction Video that ran before every home game this season and then jump into 2008 Highlight DVD clips. The month of May will be “Linfield Legends” month as usual. I’m currently finalizing my 4 former ‘Cats who will be enshrined in video glory. Then June, July, and August will be our typical buffet of old clips, HS Football Camp Highlights, Spring Football, and a couple of new features that I think you’ll enjoy.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Add This to Wildcat11's Bucket List



The 23rd Tough Guy Challenge wrapped up in England where participants have to sign death wavers to not hold the organizers liable for any harm or damage done while navigating the multi mile mud and ice water obstacle course. I think WC11 would have no problem in tackling this course as I spend 4 years in the mud and cold of the Linfield practice fields. Bring it on!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Player Blog: Ryan Henderson "Scout Team to Starting"

Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Henderson has a fantastic blog entry for us today. His story will ring true for many of us former players that came up through the ranks of the scout team and eventually earned their way onto the field. I can remember after an Alumni/JV game was played and the question was asked to the Alumni team “How many of you guys played on scout team while at Linfield?” About 90% of the Alumni players raised their hand and among those with their hands up where guys who started multiple-years, All-Conference players, Conference MVPs, Team MVPs, and All-Americans.

Ryan will one day get to raise his hand years from now when he’s asked that question as the hardnosed slot receiver jumped on his opportunity to play and didn’t let go for the remainder of 2009.
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Reporting to camp and coming into your own in a place as unknown as college for an 18 year old kid is pretty nerve racking, especially when you don’t know what to expect. All the freshman have their expectations of what the school or football will be like, but most of these guys like myself, find out that it’s a lot different. I had never came to a Division III football game when I decided to come to Linfield. I had a pretty skewed idea that it wasn’t that competitive as far as what kind of athletes there are and what level of football is being played because it was D3. With this in mind I thought that I would be able to come down to Linfield and get a fair amount of early playing time and be able to have a successful career.

I think it was sometime freshman year training camp in between: getting destroyed by Rod Booth in the Innertube wrestling, watching WR John Torsey run a ‘4.3somethin’ 40 yard dash, seeing Saftey Keone Tawata kill people on the highlight film at the fieldhouse sleepover, watching Aaron Boehme throw the ball 70 yards and thinking to myself “damn, and he’s only second string”, watching Masters just do what he does, and listening to Coach Nagel talk about the most complex offense I have seen, was when I realized that Linfield football program is the real deal and if I ever want to play I better work my ass off and step my game up.

I think that my hardest time at Linfield would have to be my time spent on scout team. I was down there for all of my freshman year and the first week of my sophomore year. Scout team sucks. It’s hard work with no game time, its hundred and hundreds of reps while getting thrown into the air by Drew Ragan or trying to trying to block Andrew Woods. I remember after every practice the defense would break down the huddle with something like “thanks scout team” or “keep up the hard work its making us better!” Maybe it was cause was too tired to think, but to me those words or our actions on scout team never really felt like they meant that much, until the game against Willamette. I remember P.j. Sequiera and I were running hundreds of Willamette’s fly sweeps directly into Jeff Denny or Taylor Summers waiting to kill us all week preparing the defense for Willamette. And on that Saturday in 2007 down in Salem I was watching the play and I saw the man who I would have been on scout team come in motion and I knew exactly what was coming, it was a fly sweep to the right and I think it was Summers but I’m not sure, just blasted him for a 3 or 4 yard loss and I just went nuts. I truly felt that I had something to do with making that play.

Sophomore season came around and I felt like it was my turn to make my name as a Wildcat. I had worked hard and had a pretty good training camp. But when it came down to Coach Yen calling out who was going to stay with the 1’s and 2’s I wasn’t called. This time for me was probably hardest of my entire athletic career. I watched as the offense practiced and I still had to run hundreds of plays while listening to Coach Rombach scream. This time, although hard for me, taught me a lot. For one, I really found out what the Linfield program was about. So many teammates like Gus Morrison, Reggie Ford, Taylor Avritt, John Torsey, Travis Masters, Haberly, Bubba, Chris Saunders, lots more and even coaches all came up to me and talked to me on a personal level like a family would. They made it so much easier for me to look past my frustration and realize what I need to do. Which was work hard so the team can get better and through the hard work prove to coaches I could play.

I think my happiest day as a Wildcat was when Coach Yen asked me to stay with the 1’s and 2’s. I felt like my time on scout team was all worth it and I was ready to work even harder to keep moving up. It was the third week of the year we were practicing for Menlo and during the Thursday practice Gunnar Cedarburg got a concussion, and coach Yen came up to me after practice to tell me it was my turn to make it happen. I thought to myself about how many times Coach Smith talked about how people get one shot and sometimes that’s the only shot they get so naturally that just made me more nervous.

Saturday came along and I was nervous and pumped because it was a bright sunny day in the Catdome. The first play was an outside zone right to Reggie, I lined up, Bixenman snapped the ball and I don’t remember it until I got up after cut blocking some safety and saw Reggie 15 yards downfield, I had the biggest smile on my face jumping up and down and played like that the rest of the game. I think that is the most I have ever loved football in my life. This season to me was so much fun and helped me grow as a person and a football player. I don’t think I could have made the plays I did this year without practicing every day against people like Brian Mehl and Woods, the love I got from all my teammates and what I learned on scout team. Almost everybody goes through scout team and it only makes you a better player if you go through it with the right mindset. Playing against the best defense in D3 will only help you when you get the chance to make your name on the field. This is what Linfield is made of, we’re a family and we’re ready to do big things next year. CATDOME!!!

Ryan Henderson
-Class of 2011


video

Mug Shot Courtsey of Linfield SID Kelly Bird
Action Photo Courtsey of Brad Thompson Linfield Action Photos