Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From High School to the 'Catdome.

For fans of Linfield football each fall bring in the expectations of winning conference titles and competing for a chance to play for a National Championship and along with that are fresh faces to the program that are experiencing the 'Catdome for the very first time.  I'm always interested in just how these young men arrived at Linfield and decided to play for YOUR Linfield Wildcats so we reached out to some of our 1st year Wildcats and asked them to share a little insight about why they choose Linfield and just how their 1st year of playing for the 'Cats went.  After reading what these players had to say, Wildcat11 feels rather confident that the future of this programs remains just as bright as it ever did.

#15 Dominique Forrest, Linebacker, Portland, Or. (Jesuit High)

When I was looking for a college program to play at I took factors like having a winning tradition, good coaches that know how to push their players, and a team that knows how to get it done on the field. From my visit to watching the team play my family and I felt that Linfield did all of these things very well and so much more. It was an easy decision to make to come here.

I didn’t know how special Linfield was until I actually got to play in a game with the guys. Nothing is like those Saturdays. The moment I knew that choosing Linfield was the right decision was the day it was announced that we would be able to play Cal. Lutheran again for that first round game. The first game against them was a tough one, but the way our players and our coaches bounced back to go undefeated the rest of the season up until that point was amazing. As a team we found our weaknesses and grinded everyday to improve and we did just that and it led to us being successful. That’s the kind of team I would play for any day. It was a good weak and we came out for that game and put on a show!

During the season I discovered a lot about this team. A lot of people only get to see us perform on Saturdays and they don’t know this team as we are throughout the week. The team is full of guys that work hard in meetings and on the field for not just themselves, but also for the guys that line up next to them, the guys they run down the field with, and the coaches that prepare them. The team truly is an accepting team with guys that respect and work hard for one another. It’s something about this team that for me, being a first year player loves and respects. I’m blessed to be a ‘Cat.

I am proud of what we accomplished this year and it was full of a lot of memories that will be around for awhile. The road is bright for the team we have coming back and I look forward to see what we can do.

#49 KeAlii Poomaihealani , Defensive End, Kahalu'u, Hawaii (St. Louis)

I was convinced Linfield was my best bet when I found out about their successful athletic program. Not only do they offer a substantial education, but Linfield is also known for their continued dominance in football. I wanted to be a part of that. I love winning and playing football at a high intensity in front of a crazy crowd, what more could you ask for.

During recruiting season, I mainly spoke to Phil Rombach and Doug Hire. I first heard about Linfield through Coach Rombach at a summer football clinic my junior year going into senior year. Brent Shimabukuro (Jr. Defensive End) was Coach Rombach’s assistant and after camp was over he introduced me to him, and Rombach told me to send him my junior year highlights. Since then, we kept in contact throughout my entire senior year.

The only thing I knew about Linfield was that it was a Division III college whose team colors were purple and red. I never really knew “Linfield” until late in the recruiting months of my senior year when Coach Hire came to my school to recruit and show the highlight tape of their 2009 season. Despite the team colors, I knew this was what I wanted after watching that highlight. All I remember is high intensity play with a pretty crazy crowd. That really drove me and sold me to becoming a Wildcat.

The experience so far at Linfield is crazy. I feel I’ve endured so much, and its only the end of my first semester. I’ve still got a long way to go. From the very beginning it was a totally new and overwhelming experience for me. Coming from a high school that does not have many defensive schemes and plays, learning the Wildcats playbook within a week during camp was unbelievably crazy for me. But it all pays off on gameday! Playing in the Catdome is so crazy, it’s a thrill I can’t explain. It’s something you have to experience yourself. The bond created with your teammates is strong and inseparable, I've never made so many friends within five months. The overall experience is just awesome. I definitely made the right decision and this is exactly how I pictured everything to be.

#84 Jacob Priester, Tight End, Patterson, Ca. (Patterson High)

Until about last February I was still unsure about where I was going to end up at college. Then coach Hazenberg insisted that I come visit the school on a recruiting weekend. That weekend was the first time that I really learned anything about Linfield, as I had only been in contact with the coaching staff for about two months before I arrived for the recruiting visit. When I set foot on campus, I felt like I had come to a place that felt like home, because it was definitely a college atmosphere but it was small enough to feel like I could easily become part of the town. And as I walked the streets of campus with my father, we discussed my options for college, in which we were starting to lean toward Linfield until we reached the Catdome.

The moment we stepped into the stadium was the moment I knew that I wanted to play football at Linfield. I think when I saw the banner telling everyone who entered the field that Linfield was still continuing the longest winning season streak in history, I realized the importance of this program. I realized that I would be playing for something much bigger than myself, I would be playing for a spot in the history books. Coming from a high school that never even won a league title in my time there, I could not help but want to be a part of this team.

Throughout the entire process of choosing a college to attend, the most important person in my final decision was my father. He traveled with me to every recruiting visit to every college which had interest in me and voiced his honest opinions about them. His honesty was very helpful in finding my home in Linfield. As we visited other programs, he always reminded me about the winning tradition of Linfield. He reminded me that winning was just some kind of a pattern here, it was expected, and that was something I had never been a part of before. My father finally helped me narrow my choices down and eventually select Linfield as my college choice, and I don't know where I would have ended up without my father's honesty and help.

So far Linfield has been a crazy ride. Stepping onto the field for the first day of practice, I immediately realized that I was no longer playing high school football. There were no slouches on the field, everyone had athletic ability and everyone I ran into was a competitor. As the season progressed and I got settled into the college atmosphere I found that Linfield quickly became not just a college but also my home. In my first semester I met people that I know will be life long friends, on and off of the football. But nothing at Linfield compares to the time I spent on the field. I was very fortunate to have been able to have a sizable amount of playing time this year as a freshman, and while every player on the field created a much greater challenge for me that any high school player ever did, when I found success on the field it felt so much more satisfying. Thus far, scoring a touchdown against Lewis and Clark and flying to Minnesota to play St. Thomas were my favorite moments from Linfield football. But these moments are few and far between at this program because it is based on a selfless attitude and being able to push yourself to work harder than anyone on the field. Linfield creates a very competitive atmosphere that took some adjusting to get used to, but all of the work is worth it when I remember than I am fighting for my spot in history.

#24 Tyler Robitaille, Safety, San Jose, Ca. (Bellarmine Prep)

After my high school season was over, I wasn't really looking to play college ball. I had decided to attend the U of Oregon just as a full time student. Coach Smith visited my school and I went to the meeting just to humor my coaches. I went in not ever hearing of Linfield before. That night I received a call from Coach Haze and he actually saw me play on another player's game film. He told me I could play and that I should look into Linfield. I had a trip planned up to Oregon in the following month so I put Linfield on the stop. Once I got here I could see myself going here to play football.

When I got back home I knew that i wanted to play at Linfield. The fact that I could go to a school and play the sport I loved was an amazing opportunity. My mom made the trip with me and she influenced my decision greatly. I had two brother both in college in California so I was going to be the first to go away to school. The day I moved in to my dorm i was a little nervous. Was I going to be as good as the other freshman? What will college be like? How are the girls? Questions every freshman ask themselves. But the experience was more then expected. The first two weeks I made friends instantly, you didn't have a choice. You spend over 12 hours a day for two weeks with these guys, if you don't make friends quick, its going to be a bumpy ride.

Those two weeks really put the season into perspective for me. The work required to feel success, the frustration you face when learning plays, the endless Smith talks, the Fendall meetings where it seems like your doing nothing right, but everything wrong. But everything that I went through this season has made me a better player. Facing adversaries in size, injuries, intelligence, experience, all these factors I had to work on to get my chance to play. I was fortunate enough to get playing time as a freshman and took advantage of the situation. Trying to make myself and my teammates better by going hard all the time, even though you might be doing the wrong thing. The upper class men were amazing this year. Taking the freshman under their wings and really showing us what Linfield football is all about. They made my season, hands down. The program is awesome, successful but humble. The coaching staff are the best around and enjoy what they do, which makes football even more fun. My teammates were class acts, always setting good examples and not making me feel like a freshman.

All in all the friendships and memories I've made from this season make me want to get out on the field and get ready for next season. Can't wait to see what the Catdome has in store for my career.


Brian E Petersen said...

It is apparent that some things never change at Linfield. I had the same experiences as a freshman Wildcat in 1964. Those guys I bonded with then are STILL in my thoughts and prayers all these years later. That was never more apparent than at our 65'Champion Bowl HOF weekend.

doc said...

The coaching staff in California again.
That's good.
So was playing 2 games way down south last season.
Of course, this blog and are the best recruiting tools a kid could have - until he steps onto the field and gets leveled by Brian Peterson or Ryan Carlson and then sits down with them later in The Commons.

Cris said...

I was feeling a little complacent about next season, but these testimonies are excellent stuff....great job Wildcat11...can't wait to hear about this springs recruits.