Athlete turned coach: fan voice matters

The fall of 1995 was one for memories. The Mariners were having an incredible season, winning the AL West. Cougar football was coming off of an Alamo Bowl victory, and a young WSU volleyball team was looking for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

I was a wide-eyed freshman on that volleyball team, up for the challenge. It wasn’t easy. Being a student-athlete in the Pac-12 has always been tough. Some days I was frustrated and sore and tired, but there was something special that kept me coming back day after day. There was something special about this place.

In the previous year, I had many opportunities to choose a different school to pursue my athletic and academic career, but I chose Washington State. It was that “feeling” that we all can’t really explain, the feeling of family, the feeling of pride. Ultimately it was the people. I chose WSU because of you.

You are the fan. You are the student, arriving to the game an hour early to heckle the opponent during warm ups. You are the parent bringing your family to the game on a school night, feeding your kids popcorn and hot dogs for dinner. You are the season ticket holder, eager to meet the newcomers year in and year out. You are the professor cheering on your student, knowing they will also have their assignment done before the next class. You are the staff member who proudly wears your Crimson and Gray, filling the seats even after a full day at the office. You are the Cougar Family.

As a former student-athlete and now as the head coach I am here to tell you how important you are. The electricity you create can help propel us from behind or help us keep our momentum. You, the fan, can truly create a home court advantage. Take pride in being that advantage for our teams. Come early, be loud, stay late. Stick with us. You matter!

As for my career as a student-athlete, it turned out pretty well: three trips to the NCAA Tournament, including an “Elite Eight” and “Sweet 16.” What makes these memories so incredible is, of course, the people. My goal as a coach is to not only get our team back to that level of success, but also help our players connect with you, the fans.

We will see you all next week as we take on the Huskies at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24 and Utah at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. For now, be the best fan at this football game and sing the Fight Song like you mean it. Go Cougs!