It was November 20, 2004. My dad, brother, and I hopped in the car and drove to Pullman for the Apple Cup game between Washington State and the University of Washington. We sat in the end zone of Martin Stadium on a snowy and bitter cold evening. On that evening the Cougars would end a 7-year drought to the Huskies and win a thrilling double overtime contest, 28-25.
As someone who grew up going to Washington State Cougar football games with my dad, little did I know that would be my final one for a long time. When I watched that Apple Cup game I was a senior in high school and my life was about to change. I went off to college, started my professional career, and lived far away from the state of Washington. Sure, I could stay up until 2 a.m. watching some of the infamous “Pac-12 After Dark” games that involved the Cougs and took place in Martin Stadium but it hardly replaced being there. As I would lay in bed watching those games, I would tell myself that one day I wanted to watch a game there again.
After 17 years, I finally had that opportunity this past weekend. Not only did I watch the Cougars pull off a thrilling victory over the Stanford Cardinal, but I got to do it with the same crew that I watched my last WSU football game with—my dad and brother.
The three of us knew the significance. When we piled into the car on Saturday, my dad asked us if we knew the last time the three of us went to a Coug game together. There was no hesitation. My brother and I both replied with the Apple Cup and we recounted some of the memories and smells (yes, smells) from that night that will always stay with us. We reminisced about our Cougar football history together and then prepared to make new memories.
We could not have asked for a better day. Just like the previous week in Missoula, it was sunny and unseasonably warm. The three of us walked around campus, soaked up the sun, hung out in the fieldhouse like old times, and then entered the hallowed gates of Martin Stadium.
After loading up on concession stand items, we found our seats and literally basked under the glow of, first, the sunshine, and once night fell, the stadium lights. I geeked out the whole time. From the team entrance to the flyover to Butch to the “Welcome Home” tradition to the fight song to the “And that’s another…(Cougar First Down)” cheer it was so incredibly awesome. Mind you, over the past 17 years I have watched numerous college football games in different settings, including the SEC and ACC variety, but nothing is ever like your first love…and for me that is WSU. To finally watch a game in the stadium that played host to some of the very best Saturdays of my childhood after so long was a little emotional.
And to watch it with my dad and brother made it even that more special. Man, we had fun. That game was so good and we were so invested in every down. For the Cougs to pick up the win in the fashion they did just seemed like it was meant to be.
I didn’t take this past Saturday for granted. I know for a fact it won’t be 17 more years until I watch my next football game in Martin Stadium and I can’t wait to continue to build more memories in the town and place that will always hold a special place in my heart. Don’t Blink.