Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Player Blog, Gunnar Cederberg: A Season To Remember

Linfield Senior Wide Receiver Gunnar Cederberg is a “Linfield” guy to his core. I think the best way to describe Gunnar is hard working, a player that embraces his roll on the team, and is passionate about football and Linfield. Those are the reason why I ask Gunnar to give his thoughts on the incredible season of 2009. Not only did Gunnar did a great job in telling part of his personal story but he’ll also tell you when this 2009 team came together and why. A big ‘thank you’ to Gunnar taking the time to share his story and we’re looking forward to see him on the diamond for the ‘Cats baseball team this spring.
The 2009 football season is something that will not only go down in the record books as one of Linfield’s best but it will go down as one of the greatest 9 month stretches of my entire life. You might be thinking that nine months is a little longer than the scheduled football season but our 2009 run started way before fall camp began. You can ask any player or coach that has been a part of a successful team, that a success of a season is not only made on the days leading up to a game but the hours and hours of hard work that are put in by the team during the off season. Coach Smith constantly stresses, “to do the right thing" and for us as a team and individuals to be accountable for our actions and this team took that to heart. We made it a priority to work as hard as we could when other teams might be taking it easy. Every player and coach that was a part of this tremendous run bought into a common goal, made a plan, stuck to that plan and ended up with a very rewarding outcome to the end of our season. This was a very special group of guys that made up this 2009 coaching staff and roster and my senior season is one I will never forget.

Personally my 2008 football season was one I would rather forget. I began the season as a player who figured to help contribute to the team but near the end of the second game my performance was not up to par. I suffered a string of injuries in the next two weeks and eventually was forced to end my 2008 season after the 5th week due to a severe shoulder injury. It was a dreadful season for two of my roommates as well. Trevor Patterson and Aaron Boehme also suffered injuries that ended their 2008 campaign and as a house we missed nearly all of the 2008 season. I underwent shoulder surgery near the end of November and was only able to run with my teammates as we began morning workouts in early February. Because I was unable to participate fully I was able to observe the hard work and dedication my teammates demonstrated through the early dark hours of February. To this day I will never forget the sweat, hard work and pain (Friday dodge ball) that every single guy displayed. It made me extremely proud to be apart of something that we all knew could be great and would be great if we continued to put the work in. This is where I feel we became a team. With these hours of work put in and just being around each other this is were we came together and became the great team we ended up being. Relationships were built and friendships started that will last guys the rest of their lives. To many of my teammates and myself this was one of our greatest college experiences.

With two weeks before the start of spring ball my shoulder had shown little improvement in health and I learned I would need a second surgery to correct the problems that were accruing. I underwent the surgery and by nothing short of a miracle I was able to participate in spring ball and continue to be able to work hard and be on the football field with my teammates. Spring ball went incredibly well and again as a team we continued to learn how to play with each other and grow as a single unit on both sides of the ball. From the beginning of spring practice we all saw that hard work in the off-season pay off. Just as any other team would we all experienced some bumps and hardships along the way to improvement but we all knew that fixing them would not be a problem. You could feel the excitement throughout our team as practice came to an end and we knew that we still had a long way to go but every single one of us was willing to put the work in during the summer to get better and continue to become the team we knew we could be.

Summer was filled with guys doing what they needed to do to improve and become solid all around players. Some of my favorite memories will be throwing the football around with Boe (Aaron Boehme) and Trev (Trevor Patterson) until the sun went down on a warm night. I will have to say those times are what I will miss the most with out a doubt. With a lot of guys staying close to campus it was easy to get summer throwing workouts together and we eventually got to participate in 7 on 7 versus some other schools around the state. We battled it out with Portland State and Western Oregon and as a team we were very capable holding our on with the so call “big boys” of the state. These scrimmages not only gave us confidence but let us know that if we worked as a team and continued to work as hard as we could that we would be able to do something very special against teams in our Division of the NCAA’s. Summer workouts ended and with great excitement the first day of fall camp started.

With every familiar face that returned to the Catdome more and more excitement started to build and every single player was ready to get after the 2009 season. My final fall camp was a very special because my little brother Axel Cederberg had decided to come and join the Linfield family and play outside linebacker. Being able to line up against him and play on the same field during practice and games is something that is very special to me and I will never want to forget. The first night of camp is always a fun one because you get to meet the entire young freshmen classes that are coming to join our Wildcat family. Staying in the Rutschman Field House and swapping summer stories and meeting all the new guys is somewhat taxing on you because you do not sleep well on the hard floor and century old mattresses but getting to know the young guys and just catching up is worth more than any night of sleep.

“Doubles” as we call it went exceptionally well and we were dying to get after someone who didn’t have the same color jersey on as us. Hardin Simmons could not have made it to the Catdome soon enough. Every player was excited because we all knew what we could do if we played to the best of our ability and we could not wait to show the Linfield Faithful that we had what it took to be a special team. As the score of the game reflected all of the hard work we collectively put in together appeared on that filed during that second Saturday in September. We knew though that it was the first step in a very long season and we now had to focus on going on the road for a solid month to play maybe one of the most difficult stretches of games in the past decade. We took it upon ourselves to make sure we would balance our studies, football and lives so that we could be successful during this stretch of games. The coaches and players did a great job of adapting to all the different things that happened on every single road trip and made sure that the schedule was as consistent as possible.

This “road trip” of games made our team become tough and mentally prepared to face anything. With beating Occidental, Southern Oregon, Menlo and Whitworth our team truly showed how good we were. Occidental was a ranked team and was very talented at many positions. Southern Oregon was big, fast and very talented and is always a tough game. During the Menlo game we did not have a half time locker room and were forced to chalk talk in the sand. Finally the stretch of games ended with Whitworth, and every single Wildcat fan knows that Winning at Whitworth is no easy task. Personally I didn’t mind the long extended time away from the Catdome, with my girlfriend on study abroad and all my friends and brother on the trips with me it was just like I was at home playing football. Those four games just gave us more reason to believe we were bound to do great things if we continued to work hard, and we took it upon ourselves to do just that.

Coming home to play in front of our fans was an awesome experience. With beating Lewis and Clark and seeing all the alumni come back and watch us do it was very special, but all of us had the next game in the back of our minds. Every team tries to prepare for the upcoming game and not overlook the game at hand, but in this instance it was very tough. Willamette was looming on the schedule and had been circled for quite sometime now and every player was ready to go out and prove that the game in the 2008 season should not have ended the way it did. There was a heightened sense of preparation and intensity at practice and we were not going to let this game get away from us, we set out with a goal to take every game one at a time and be in the now, but we all had a little bit of pay back on our minds for a couple of reasons. The game was had fought and I feel we came out on top because of the way our team was so close and because of all the hard work we had put in together. In tight games teams beyond a doubt show their true colors and we showed that this was our year in the NWC.
The next couple of games were very important due to the fact we needed to finish strong and establish ourselves as a playoff football team. We took care of our business and ensured an undefeated regular season and we entered uncharted territory for every player but one on the 2009 roster, the play-offs. In a way I think this might of helped us though. None of us knew what to expect or how to react, all we knew how to do was play football and prepare to play teams that were extremely well coached and talented. The three straight home games might have helped as well but I still want to go with us not knowing any better. We played outstanding football and peaked at the right moment and continued to grow as a football team at the right time. We made big time plays and saw big time players emerge and make plays that will never be forgotten.

Playing in the Catdome and in front of dedicated fans and family was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I will never forget playing in those big games and being a part of a great season. The way our season ended was not the way we would have like. Every team does not want to lose their final game and not win a championship but to play the way we did and win as many games as we did this season I feel was a great accomplishment. There were some people out there that doubted if the streak would even continue and I hope we just didn’t continue that streak but started another great run of play-off appearances.

Coming off that field in the cold in my final game will be a memory that will hurt but be more satisfying than anything I have accomplished in my life thus far. The memories I have and the friendships I have made will be with me for the rest of my life and I am truly grateful for choosing Linfield and being a part of a wonderful four years. We didn’t win the national championship like we had wanted this past season, but we proved to ourselves and every person who watched us play that we prepared as a team and expected to be and do great things. I will never forget playing with my teammates and putting the tremendous amount of effort into this season. We worked hard and I hope teams after us will see that anything is possible if you commit and play as a team. My final football season was an amazing run and I want to thank everyone who was apart of that run with me. I will never be anything but a Cat, and I will always call the Catdome home.

-Gunnar Cederberg #8
Class of 2010

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great example of what Linfield football teaches young men. It truly is the "little things"; locker room antics, jokes with the fellas and summer workouts that you miss after you hang the cleats up for the last time.