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Giving Thanks for Washington Football

On today’s Thanksgiving holiday, it only seems appropriate that we show our appreciation for the things that make being a Husky football fan worthwhile.

Gavin St. Ours

Today, hundreds of millions of Americans will gather around the dinner table with family and friends to share food and fellowship, reunite with family members not seen for days, weeks or months, and try desperately to avoid talking about the results of this month’s election. In that way, Thanksgiving Day is a potent annual reminder that for all of our differences, the ties that unite us with our loved ones are far stronger and more important than the petty differences that can at times seem so intractable and divisive.

Here at the UW Dawg Pound, things aren’t so different. Today seems an appropriate day for me to give thanks for our dedicated and hard-working team members who bring you the content you so eagerly consume: Chris Landon, Ben Knibbe, Jeff Gorman, John Sayler, Gabey Lucas, Kirk DeGrasse, Randall Floyd, Brad Johnson, Kevin Cacabelos, Lucas Shannon, dilletaunt, Jack Follman, Darin Johnson, Redmond Longhorn, and our newest team members Rob Foxcurran, maxvroom and aaronsieverkropp. I give thanks to the people tirelessly working the UW and Pac-12 beats: Adam Jude, Christian Caple, Percy Allen, Dave Mahler, Dick Baird, Hugh Millen, Kim Grinolds, Chris Fetters, Scott Eklund, Ted Miller, Kevin Gemmell, Chantel Jennings and Kyle Bonagura, without whom we wouldn’t have nearly as much to discuss and debate. And most of all, I give thanks to you, our readers and enthusiastic commenters. Without your clicks and comments, I’d be little more than a crazy man yelling his thoughts into the ether, with nary a one having any semblance of a coherent thought. (In other words, I’d be Chris.)

But we’re not here to talk about the media, our fan bloggers or even our illustrious (and no doubt devilishly attractive) readers. No, we’re here to give thanks for the men and women who make Husky football possible, from the highest-regarded player all the way down to the lowliest of support staff.

With that in mind, it makes sense to start at the top by giving thanks to Washington’s head football coach, Chris Petersen. Coach Pete and his “Built for Life” approach has been described by former players such as Danny Shelton as a “life changer,” and countless parents of recruits have spoken in glowing terms of the man in whom they would place the care of their sons taking their final steps on the path toward manhood. Some coaches are great football tacticians, and some are wonderful people who build and conduct their programs the right way. Chris Petersen is a rare example of a coach who embodies both aspects, and Washington fans should be enormously thankful for his decision to settle down on Montlake.

I give thanks to Scott Woodward and Jennifer Cohen, who brought Coach Pete to Washington in the chaotic days following Steve Sarkisian’s departure three years ago. I give thanks to Chris Mitchell, whose Emmy Award-winning series “The Pursuit” has allowed us an inside look at the Husky program that we never would have otherwise seen. I give thanks to Mason Kelley, whose profiles of Husky athletes and coaches put a human face on the student athletes that we so often reduce to statistics and records of wins and losses. I give thanks to Kim Durand and the folks at the Washington Department of Athletics’ academic services team, who ensure that the Husky athletes are able to take full advantage of the world-class education they are afforded in Seattle.

I give thanks to Jeff Bechtold and Carter Henderson and Brian Tom and all the other communications staff who answer our random questions and put the Huskies’ accomplishments into historical perspective. I give thanks to the Husky cheer squad, whose love and dedication for UW athletics runs as deep as anyone’s. I give thanks for The Immaculate Interception, the 2009 victory over USC and the Whammy in Miami. I give thanks to Steve Emtman and Mario Bailey, Sonny Sixkiller and Gil Dobie, Don James, Carol James, Jake Locker, Daniel Teo-Nesheim, Hau’oli Kikaha, Colin Porter, Erik Kohler and all of the countless men and women who have worn the purple and gold with honor and distinction throughout the decades.

And most of all, I give thanks to Jake Browning and John Ross, Coleman Shelton and Budda Baker, Elijah Qualls and Vita Vea and Azeem Victor and Keishawn Beirria: every single young man who wears the Husky uniform for the benefit of our entertainment. I thank them for their dedication to achieving excellence on the field, and for conducting themselves the right way off of it.

And tomorrow, I would love nothing more than to give thanks for a fourth-consecutive Apple Cup victory, and a 71-32-6 all-time lead in the cross-state series against the Cougars.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and go Dawgs.