Friday, October 17, 2014

ADvantage Friday Feature: Coming Home

Tyler Steele had his hands all over many Linfield victories from 2009-2013
Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: View Brad's Photos Here.

Homecoming: a long-held tradition of welcoming alumni back to campus. For some, that means dresses, corsages and uncomfortable dancing. For the Linfield Wildcats, however, that means one thing: football.

Tailgating and football, that’s what Linfield does…in the fall at least. To learn this for yourself make your way to the parking lot on the south end of campus on Saturday. I promise there will be no lack in merriment and stories of the “glory days” from Linfield football alums.

One of those storytellers may even be Linfield football alum, Tyler Steele.

“The Catdome is a special place and you only know what I mean if you've been a part of Linfield football,” said Steele. “I would give up a lot to be able to go back and play one more game with my guys in the Catdome.”

Steele graduated in 2014 after redshirting his senior year due to a knee injury. He completed his career with All-American acknowledgment and was the recipient of the Vern Marshall Award, an honor recognizing the top student athletes on campus.

 With the granting of his fifth-year, he got the chance to do something he had never done before: play alongside his brother.

“[Last year], I had the pleasure of playing with my brother and that was the number one sports moment in my life,” said Steele. “That’s more important to me than any award or record. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Alex Hoff, #55, is standing tall among the best defensive linemen in Division III in 2014

Steele’s younger brother, junior Alex Hoff, is a defensive end for the ‘Cats and now represents them both out on the turf.

“When we were younger we were one year apart from playing together,” said Hoff. “When he came back for his fifth year, it was very special to be playing alongside him on the D-line.”

That special bond is something that both brothers treasure, especially now that Steele has graduated.

“My brother has always been a huge positive role model in my life,” said Hoff. “Knowing that I’m playing in front of him and doing something we both love so much makes me even more driven to go out and play to the best of my ability.”

“He is and will continue to surpass me as a football player at Linfield,” said Steele. “Athletically, he can do things that I never could. He’s just a ‘freak.’ Words can’t describe how proud I am of him.”

While Hoff will be making tackles and stopping plays on the field, Steele will be partaking in homecoming from the fan section for the first time.

“Watching homecoming for the first time is going to be weird,” said Steele. “As a player, you know that there is going to be a large crowd and alumni are going to be around the field.”

Going from player to fan is not something people look forward to. Take it from someone who knows, that transition is rough. Lucky for Steele and the rest of the Linfield football alums, the Catdome family is strong, whether you’re on the field or off.

“We are good because of what we put into it,” said Hoff. “The football program is part of an extended family and the alumni are a part of that family too. And when Saturday comes around, we get to show everyone why the Catdome is such a special place.”

Alumni, young and old, will be at Linfield College on Saturday. They will reminisce about huge upsets and devastating losses. They will bond over food and games of flip cup. But, most importantly, they will be in the Catdome cheering on their boys as they claim their 59th winning season.

“We pride ourselves on being the best in the West,” said Hoff. “We are expected to carry on a winning tradition that started 58 years ago and we want to show the people that started the tradition that we aren’t letting that title go anywhere.”

-Sara Miller

1 comment:

DS said...

I'll be there doing my Alumni thing, Sara.
I was reminded of the LINFIELD family when I went by the field Thursday as practice was breaking up. I'm from SoCal. I was with old roommates from Florida and NorCal. Three players came over to introduce themselves and shake hands. We are now fans of them and will follow them closely the rest of their career because of that gentlemanly move on their part.