Friday, October 10, 2014

ADvantage Friday Feature: The Linfield Way

I'm thrilled to announce a new Friday article that we'll be posting up for the remainder of the season as former Linfield soccer player, Sara Miller will be joining the team to bring you deeper insights in the players and people that make this Linfield Football program great.

Sara graduated from Linfield this past Spring with a degree in Mass Communications and is currently residing in Federal Way, Washington as she starts her career. Sara grew up attending Huskies and Seahawks games with her father and is a major sports enthusiast. In fact, Sara ran a wonder series of video pieces this past Spring on the Linfield Baseball team as they defended their 2013 National Title.  I remember watching these and was impress with Sara's ability to have people relax and be themselves as they talk about various subjects. It's that ability to have her subjects open up that made asking Sara taking part of this blog a no-brainier. A special thanks to former Linfield punter Josh Repp for initially contacting me about Sara.


Team, Excellence, Attitude, Class
The Linfield football program holds its players to a high standard. With great football comes great responsibility, after all.

And that responsibility falls to a group of seniors who, after three years of disappointment, have their eyes set on a championship game that looms in December.

“As freshmen, everybody always told us that time flies and it’s one of those things that was hard to comprehend,” said Colin Nelson, a senior from Redmond, Wash. “I still remember how overwhelming it could be when you’re a freshman because there is a lot expected out of you right away.”

That viewpoint has evolved since freshman year.

“Now that I’m a senior, I have made a conscious effort to become a more vocal leader and to help the young guys as much as possible,” said Nelson. “I’ve done my best to pass on my knowledge and experiences to make it as easy for the young bucks as it can be.”

“I feel a responsibility to be the best player and teammate I can be because of all the sacrifices that former and present players have put into this amazing program,” said Evan Peterson, a senior from Bellevue, Wash.

“Tradition is what we pride ourselves on here,” said Jordan Giza, a senior from Salem, Ore. “We work hard and win games. The Linfield way.”

Nelson, Peterson and Giza are just three players who represent the senior class in the Catdome. And in their rise to the top, they’ve learned that football means a lot more to this community than to just toss the pigskin around on a Saturday afternoon.

“Tradition is very important here and it is the foundation of the program,” said Giza. “Knowing that so many great players have been out on that field in the past, makes the Catdome a very special place on Saturday.”

“Linfield football is based on tradition and structure,” said Peterson. “I believe that’s why we have the longest streak of winning seasons in college football at 58 (about to be 59) years.”

This senior class has compiled one of the best records in Linfield football history. In fact, this group of brothers has never lost a regular season game on their home field. That brotherhood goes far beyond the numbers and hash marks that line the turf.

“In my four years I’ve met so many alumni and ex-players who all want us to succeed as much as we do ourselves,” said Nelson. “We are representing a group of people much larger than just our team; and to win a national championship would mean a lot to so many people.”

It’s this kind of commitment and heart that makes the Linfield football program one of the most respected in the country. It creates a special bond that lives long past the time spent on the field.

And after three years, these boys are example of that.

“There's people I've met in my four years that I consider my brothers and will be groomsmen in my wedding,” said Giza. “I've met mentors that I look to for advice and will always admire, numerous people who have helped me further myself as a student, athlete and man.”

“I’ve spent most of my time doing football related activities,” said Peterson. “I’ve experienced a lot with these guys and this program. From 6 am workouts and spring practices, to playing in 10 degree weather in Wisconsin.”

Catdome fans remember the 17-21 loss to Wisconsin Whitewater that knocked the Wildcats out of the play-offs last December. This group of seniors feels that sting a little deeper than most, and it has united them for their final go-round.

“That was the third time in three years that we had failed to close out a game that we felt we should have won,” said Nelson. “So, we recommitted ourselves to the idea of winning a national championship and carried that throughout the off-season.”

That mindset fueled these seniors to be more ready than ever before. They are willing to do whatever it takes to change the outcome this time.

“Coming in to this season, I knew people outside of our program were talking about the so-called ‘question marks’ we have as a defense,” said Giza. “I wanted to install the mindset that we have a special group of players who are really talented.”

Every Saturday this special group of young men uphold and pass the traditions to the next generation of Linfield Wildcats.

“I want to be a leader through my hard work and play on the field,” said Peterson. “I want my teammates to trust in me and believe that if a play needs to be made to win the game, and my number is called, they know they can count on me.”

“It’s such a privilege to play for a program like this. It’s something I take a lot of pride in,” said Giza. “And the only thing we can do is focus on getting better each day so, come late December, we're the ones who are still playing.”

-Sara Miller

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