IN THIS ISSUE Rally, Dawgs: A Special Message From Volleyball’s Keegan Cook. . . . 2 Quarterback Jacob Eason proves you really can go home again . . . . . 4 10 Questions With ... senior Benning Potoa’e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 After 26 years at Washington, Lesle Gallimore is hanging up the whistle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Senior Chico McClatcher is excited to be back on the field . . . . . . . . . 18 Husky men’s hoops soaked up culture, wins in Italy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 The Shot: Aaron Fuller makes the impossible possible. . . . . . . . . . . 28
GOHUSKIES VOLUME 13 / ISSUE 3 / OCTOBER 2019
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FROM THE DESK OF VOLLEYBALL HEAD COACH KEEGAN COOK
fter six consecutive weeks on the road, your Huskies return home in mid-October to continue a march towards the NCAA Tournament and our program’s second national title. Already this fall, we have competed in front of two opposing crowds of more than 6,000 fans in some of the most historic venues in the game, but we know what you know … nothing compares to Alaska Airlines Arena and the Dawg fans who make it come alive. Four outstanding seniors — Kara Bajema, Avie Niece, Shayne McPherson, and Cailin Onosko — are leading this team in 2019. They are Pac-12 Champions, Sweet 16 and Elite Eight performers, and I believe they’ve saved their best for last. We feature eight athletes from the Pacific Northwest who are joined by eight athletes from coast-to-coast and beyond, all of whom bleed purple and gold. Within the NCAA, the competition in the Pac12 is second to none. You will see our game played at the highest level, with multiple All-Americans stepping onto the floor every night. There are no nights off this fall, and every team will bring their best to Alaska Airlines Arena. Everyone looks for-
ward to coming to Seattle to play in front of you, the best volleyball fans in the country. Your incredible support has helped us construct a team capable of amazing things. They compete fiercely for each other, for the University of Washington, and for you. Come see the team you built, Husky supporters. Let’s rally, Dawgs!
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BY BRIAN BEAKY EDITOR • GOHUSKIES MAGAZINE
It's taken five years and a few twists and turns, but junior quarterback
Jacob Eason is finally where he belongs
It took fewer than seven minutes for Jacob Eason to make his presence felt in a Husky football uniform. Seven minutes to wipe out five years of pressure, excitement, elation, frustration and expectation. Seven minutes to officially come home. GoHUSKIES
o understand what those seven minutes meant to Eason, you have to press the rewind button on the DVR and go back five years, to 2014, when Eason was the talk of the nation as a junior quarterback at Lake Stevens High School. Standing 6-foot6 and 228 pounds, Eason was the kind of quarterback coaches dream about — big, strong, with a rocket arm and a level head. Over his four years at Lake Stevens, Eason backed up his physical traits with numbers, throwing for nearly 10,000 passing yards and 102 touchdowns, with just 18 interceptions, and drawing attention from every major college program in the country. Nick Saban flew in to watch him play in person. So did Jim Harbaugh. I could keep listing names, but this article has a word count. By the end of his senior season, Eason was ranked No. 4 in the nation among high school football players, and No. 2 among quarterbacks. By the time the Seahawks' Bobby Wagner showed up at Lake Stevens High School to present Eason with the Gatorade National Player of the Year award — an award won previously by high-school stars Peyton Manning and Emmitt Smith, among others (including, of course, our own Brock Huard) — Eason's options were seemingly unlimited. National Championships, NFL stardom, milliondollar paydays ... everything was on the table. Put your average teenager into that situation, and they can go one of three directions — they can be overwhelmed by the pressure and fail to meet expectations; they can let their newfound fame go to their head, and lose the work ethic that got them there in the first place; or they can block out the noise, remain focused on their goals, and commit themselves to maintaining a high level of performance. Only one of those outcomes is good — I'm guessing you can predict which one Eason chose.
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HOME COMING "He's even-keeled," offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan told the Tacoma News-Tribune last year. "'Never too high, never too low' is kind of his mantra." His high school coach, Tom Tri, used almost exactly the same words to describe Eason in a recent interview with the The Seattle Times: "That's what makes him successful, is he doesn't really stress. He's never really high, and he's never really low. He's just kind of even-keeled." Never too high, never too low. It's what got Eason through those pressurepacked last two years of high school, when the world around him was doing everything it could to inflate his ego sky-high, and distract him from the work he needed to put in every day to be successful in school and on the field. Never too high, never too low. It's how Eason successfully navigated those pressurepacked years at Lake Stevens — and it's the only thing that got him through the next three years to come.
hen Eason announced in July of 2014 that he'd be attending the University of Georgia at the end of his senior year in 2016, it helped quiet the chaos ... for a while. Early in 2016, though, Georgia coach Mark Richt was fired and, immediately, the phone calls started up again. One by one, Eason informed those coaches who called that, despite Richt's firing, he was still planning to attend Georgia in the fall, where Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart had been named head coach. One of those calls came from Washington head coach Chris Petersen. "He said, if I never needed to or had the opportunity to come home, he would have a place for me," Eason says. "I always kept that in the back of my mind." For the next year, it certainly seemed that there would be no need. Eason enrolled early at Georgia and earned the starting job halfway into the Bulldogs' season opener, throwing for 131 yards and a touchdown to help the Bulldogs come from 10 points down and defeat 22nd-ranked North Carolina (222 rushing yards by now-Cleveland Browns star running back Nick Chubb also helped). Eason would go on to lead Georgia to an 8-5 record, leading game-winning drives against Missouri, Kentucky and Auburn — and, nearly, Tennessee, where a seemingly game-winning 47-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left was countered by a successful Vols Hail Mary as time expired. Eason finished his freshman year with 2,430 yards passing, 16 TDs and just eight interceptions. As the star quarterback of an SEC team, Eason's "never too high, never too low" mantra was being put to the test. He had no idea how hard it was about to get. In the first quarter of the 2017 season, Eason felt his knee crumble. In an instant, everything he had worked for, everything he had achieved, was put in jeopardy. Over the next few months, the quarterback could only watch as freshman Jake Fromm — himself a five-star recruit whose high school senior season had been the subject of a popular web series the year before — led Georgia to the SEC Championship, a Rose Bowl victory, and to within three points of a national championship. Never too high, never too low. It sounds easy, but at times like these — watching someone else live out the dream you'd built for yourself — it's darn near impossible. Nobody needed to tell Eason that he'd be backing up Fromm in 2018 — programs don't bench their Rose Bowl-winning QBs, after all. Eason informed Georgia's coaches that he'd be looking to transfer. Suddenly, there was a need to come home. The only question now was whether or not there was an opportunity. Eason called Petersen to ask if that offer of a safe landing spot still stood. "When I told him I was ready to come home, he was excited," Eason told 247Sports.com. "We both were at that point. Coach Pete has always had this real calm and collected vibe about him. But, he was excited. I was excited." Husky Nation was excited. Their "hometown hero" was finally coming home.
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he next 12 months were among the quietest Eason has ever experienced in football. Ineligible to play in the 2018 season due to transfer rules, Eason found himself — for once — able to blend into the background, work on his craft without the pressure of the spotlight, and focus on being a good student, a good teammate and an active learner. He found himself soaking up everything he could from those around him — especially Husky starter Jake Browning. "Just watching him play, and...being able to hear some of the things he was saying, he was a great tool for me to use and learn from," Eason told Seattle Weekly. "There were a lot of things I learned from him." Once the 2018 season ended, though, Eason felt the pressure of the spotlight back on him once again. As a five-star recruit and former Gatorade National Player of the Year, many Husky fans simply assumed that Eason would step right into the Huskies' starting quarterback role, and lead the team back to the College Football Playoff. Months before he would even be named the starter following a summer-long battle with sophomore Jake Haener, fans and media were already building the Jacob Eason hype, with articles like "Ten sleeper candidates for 2019 Heisman Trophy ceremony" (247Sports.com) and "Can Jacob Eason Emerge As Next Out-of-Nowhere No. 1 Pick in 2020 NFL Draft?" (Bleacher Report). Count Petersen as someone at least a little worried about all of that pressure affecting his quarterback. "This is a college guy that's played one year of college football," he said after the Huskies' first spring practice in 2018, when media turned out in droves to evaluate Eason's performance. "I just think it's a disservice to him for you guys to put all this pressure on him. I hope he's got everything off in terms of social media and all that kind of stuff, so he can just lock in. Because nobody in the NFL can even play as good as everyone is making him out to be." Petersen, though, needn't have worried. Never too high, never too low. It got Eason through the stress of high-school recruiting and the fame and celebrity that comes with being the best high school football player in the country. It kept him level-headed through a stellar first year at Georgia, and it helped him keep from crashing during the painful year that followed. If Eason were one to let his emotions run wild, he never would have made it here in the first place. "I tend to put off that vibe," Eason told the Times' Mike Vorel of his steady, laid-back mindset. "That's just the kind of person I've been. Once the ball is snapped, it's football. It's a game. That's what my dad always said — just try to stay even-keel. If you get too jittery as a quarterback, you're going to get flustered and overthrow some balls. You've got to block out the outside noise... and just focus on what you can do to get better each and every day."
even minutes into the Huskies' season opener against Eastern Washington, barely a week after he had officially been named Washington's starting quarterback, Eason held the football in his hands and saw senior receiver Andre Baccellia streaking past a defender downfield. As the ball flew through the air, it carried with it five years of stress and frustration, five years of elation and excitement, five years of emotional extremes that would have broken many young men. When Baccellia caught the ball 50 yards downfield and broke into the end zone for a touchdown — the first of three Eason would throw in the first half alone — those five years melted away. Husky fans exploded out of their seats in celebration. Eason's teammates surrounded him on the sidelines and peppered him with high-fives and back slaps. Eason simply smiled, set down his helmet, and moved on to the next play. He was never too high, and never too low. He was finally home.
10 QUESTIONS WITH... DEFENSIVE END BENNING POTOA’E
enning Potoa’e was always going to end up at Washington — the Huskies are in his blood. The younger brother of former Husky Sione Potoa’e, Benning has been rooting for the Huskies his entire life. So, when it came time for the DuPont native and
Lakes High School alum to take the next step in his football and academic career, there was only ever one real choice. In the five years since, Potoa’e has emerged as a driving force on the Husky defensive line, making nearly 100 tackles and racking up six sacks and 16.5 tackles for
loss through his first 42 career games. With just two months of regular-season football left in his collegiate career, Potoa’e paused to take a look back at where he came from, and what memories he’ll take with him into the next stage of his life.
What are some of your earliest memories of playing football? “I remember winning the championship in the fourth grade, which was the first year I played. I also remember playing for two different teams in middle school.” Who were your favorite athletes growing up? “My favorite players growing up were Michael Jordan, Lawrence Taylor and Walter Payton. The similarities all these players had were drive and relentlessness. They were all GOATs.” Who is your biggest inspiration? “My mother inspires me because of all the hard work she had to do to get me here. My father is also an inspiration of mine because of all the things he does to put food on the table and keep the family afloat.” What is your favorite thing about living in Seattle? “I enjoy living in Seattle because of the diversity. I get to meet many different people from other places.” What is it like to play in the Pac-12 Conference? “It is definitely a blessing to have earned an opportunity play in this conference, because it is challenging. It also requires top-notch student-athletes and I’m fortunate to be one of them.” What does it feel like to play at the greatest setting in college football? “It feels great to play with all the energy the fans bring. It is definitely an experience I would not trade in for anything.” What does it mean to be an OKG? “Being an OKG comes with high expectations and high class and it makes me feel great to be one. It takes separation from many to fit the category of an OKG and I’m glad I meet the OKG expectations.” How have ‘Real Life Wednesdays’ impacted you and what have you taken away from them? “Real Life Wednesdays have shown me how to respond to adversity off the field. I have learned how to treat others well, and network, because you never know if you have the next Bill Gates sitting next to you.” What do you love most about playing football? “I love how football has given me a way to channel my issues in life. It helps me escape the adversity life throws at me. I also love the energy it brings and the quality it builds in me.” Can you talk about some of the experiences that have been opened up to you through sport and how they have changed your life? “I have traveled the most in my life through football. I have also gotten the opportunity to meet a lot of great people and mentors.”
Continued on page 15 GoHUSKIES
Farewell Longtime head coach
Lesle Gallimore may be riding off into the sunset following the 2019 season, but her accomplishments at UW will shine brightly for years to come PAGE 12
o matter how one looks at it, Lesle Gallimore has had quite a ride guiding the University of Washington women’s soccer program. Trips to 14 NCAA tournaments, with two Elite Eights. Nearly 300 career victories (she started the fall with 288, including 258 at UW). A Pac10 championship. Half a dozen Huskies who have gone on to play professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League. And, of course, it was Gallimore who recruited high-scoring forward Hope Solo from Richland, and (along with goalkeeper coach Amy Griffin) converted her into one of the most outstanding goalkeepers in women's soccer history. Quite a ride, indeed. Yet, there is one ride that Gallimore is delighted to say she has avoided — a
BY MARK MOSCHETTI FOR GOHUSKIES MAGAZINE
ride on the coaching carousel that takes coaches from place to place to place. A few years here, a few years there, before moving on to the next stop. After working as an assistant coach at her alma mater, California (1986-89), followed by her first head coaching job at San Diego State (1990-93), Gallimore’s stop at Washington has lasted 26 years – a quarter of a century, plus one. “It doesn’t seem like 26 years; I’ll tell you that much – not even close. Most people don’t even look to do that in this day and age,” says Gallimore, 55, of staying put. “It’s just not a thing.” It has been Gallimore’s thing. But, her time of staying put at Washington will end after this season, a decision she revealed last January. "Lesle has been a staple and trusted colleague within our department for two and a half decades,"
UW athletic director Jen Cohen said when the news was announced. "She is a great ambassador for women's soccer and has been recognized on many levels for her contributions to the sport.” Gallimore’s head tells her it really has been two-and-a-half decades. Her heart tells her something entirely different. “It seems like yesterday I was sitting in the room with a bunch of faces looking at me, and trying to figure out what my expectations were, and scared to death that I wasn’t what they were looking for,” she says. “I look back now, and it has been the greatest challenge and greatest journey a coach could ask for.”
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Gallimore’s stop at Washington has lasted 26 years – a quarter of a century, plus one.
Law? or Soccer
any top-caliber players follow a natural path into coaching once their on-field days come to an end. Gallimore, who as a four-time All-American helped spearhead the drive at Cal to elevate women’s soccer from club to varsity status, originally had no such intentions. “By the time I finished school at Cal, I was still playing at a pretty high level,” Gallimore says. “I went to law school for a year and was an assistant coach at Cal. After that first year of law school, I decided that playing and coaching were what I wanted to spend my time doing. It was more fun.” When Washington started its women’s program in 1991, Gallimore applied for the coaching position and earned a phone interview. The job ultimately went to Dang Pibulvech. After three seasons with a 27-21-6 record, Pibulvech moved on to become the first coach at Texas. Gallimore, who had guided San Diego State to a 30-20-8 record in four seasons, got a call. PAGE 14
“I interviewed with a couple other very experienced coaches,” she said. “And I was pleased when they offered me the job.” Her initial UW team in 1994 went 6-1-1 in its first eight games, including a 6-2 rout of No. 17 Southern Methodist. Those Huskies went all the
way to the program’s first NCAA Tournament. “I came into a place where Doug had done an outstanding job of building a team,” Gallimore says. “I felt a lot of pressure because they were really on the brink of turning a corner – and they did. A lot of that had to do with the student-athletes on that team who believed in me as a young coach.” They’ve been believing in Gallimore ever since. Some of her teams have gone on to great heights, such as NCAA Elite Eights in 2004 and 2010, and the Pac-10 championship and Sweet 16 in 2000. Through it all, Gallimore has made it a point to look beyond final scores and stats. She asks her players to do the same. “I’m pretty adamant with my kids about being something more,” Gallimore says. “Hopefully, that has inspired them to get out there and look around and discover what they’re passionate about and where they belong and that they can have an impact in the world. “I’m happy to be a catalyst for that because I had that in my life.” GoHUSKIES
Blazing a coaching trail
ome of her players have discovered that they’re passionate about coaching. Tami Bennett Nguyen is one of those. She was a Husky from 1997-2000, capping her career with an All-American award. She then coached with Gallimore from 2003-07, and is now in her eighth year of coaching at Liberty High School in Issaquah, just east of Seattle. “She has impacted a lot of female soccer coaches and gave us all the belief that we can do it,” Nguyen says. “Just as the game has progressed, she has always grown as a person and as a coach. I would say the number-one takeaway from my experience coaching at the UW was how impactful you can be on kids’ lives because of the years you get with those players.”
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Farewell Lesle’s Legacy Heading into her 26th and final season as head women’s soccer coach at the University of Washington, the numbers have truly added up for Lesle Gallimore. Overall wins (heading into 2019). . . . . 288 UW wins (heading into 2019). . . . . . . . . 258 NCAA Tournaments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 NCAA Sweet 16s. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 NCAA Elite Eights. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Conference titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 All-American players. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Total All-American awards . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 All-Region honorees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 All Pac-12 honorees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Academic All-Americans . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Pac-12 All-Academic honorees . . . . . . . 192 Coach of the Year awards . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
“It seems like yesterday I was sitting in the room with a bunch of faces looking at me, and trying to figure out what my expectations were, and scared to death that I wasn’t what they were looking for...”
Then, there’s Washington associate head coach Amy Griffin. A star goalkeeper at Central Florida and a member of the 1991 U.S. Women’s World Cup champions, she joined Gallimore’s staff in 1996 and is now in her 24th year with the program. “It’s always pretty cool to work with your best friend,” Griffin says. “The one thing with Lesle is she has done a good job of keeping the foundation, fiber and character of what is right. But, at the same time, she is willing to change as the eras change.” The reality of stepping down might not totally set in until after the final whistle sometime later this fall. But, Gallimore, who long has been active in mentoring young coaches – especially encouraging young women to get into coaching
— clearly sounds at peace with her decision. “I talk about how blessed I’ve been to be at the UW for 26 years,” she says. “But, I’ve also been very, very fortunate to have had multiple opportunities outside of Washington that have enriched my coaching and helped me be a better coach for the Huskies. “I feel like the next five or 10 years, there will be opportunities that I should probably try before I can’t anymore,” she adds. “It’s probably the idea that if I were ever going to do something even remotely different from collegiate athletics, this is the time for that.” If those next five or 10 years are anything like the past 26, it’ll continue to be quite a ride.
BY MASON KELLEY t was late in the second quarter. Washington was already building a comfortable lead. Jacob Eason was putting on a show and the Huskies were doing what FBS programs are expected to do in season openers at home against FCS opponents. It was in this moment that Chico McClatcher reacquainted himself with the end zone. After stepping away from the program last season, McClatcher found himself back doing what he loves — playing football, scoring touchdowns and celebrating with his teammates. The senior receiver caught a 10-yard pass over the middle to put the Huskies up by four scores in the game. He was immediately mobbed by teammates Cade Otton and Aaron Fuller, before offensive lineman Jaxson Kirkland hefted his smaller teammate into the air as they jogged to the sideline. “It felt good being back in the end zone,” said McClatcher, who scored his first touchdown since 2016. Of course, in typical McClatcher fashion, he didn't want to talk much about his performance. Instead, he tried to shift the conversation to his teammates. “My teammates executed well on both sides of the ball,” McClatcher said. GoHUSKIES
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It definitely wasn’t the biggest moment of his career, and it likely won’t be the most impressive play of his season. But, it was important, because for the senior, it was further proof that he was back where he belonged. His return to the field just felt right. “It felt good,” McClatcher says. “I was happy to be back in fall camp, to be around my teammates every day. And when fall camp came around, it just felt normal to me. "I felt like I was at home." or the Huskies, getting McClatcher back is like being able to take the tarp off of a Mustang convertible in the summer, push the pedal to the floor and turn a few heads. He’s explosive. He’s a playmaker. He’s a veteran target for Eason. “I think everybody knows how explosive he is and how tough he is,” UW offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said in a 2018 interview with The Seattle Times. “When he touches the ball, anything can happen.” McClatcher's return – five catches for 57 yards and the touchdown – proved he was back to performing at a level fans have come to expect during his career. When asked if he had to shake off any rust, he said he didn’t miss a beat. “I’ve played in a lot of games and this one didn’t feel too different from all of the other games I’ve been in,” he says. “I tried not to dwell in the past. It did feel great moving forward from what happened last year." "What happened last year" isn’t something McClatcher likes to spend much time talking about. The Federal Way native was a key part of Washington's dynamic and explosive offense in his first two seasons, averaging more than 23 yards per kick return as a freshman in 2015, then posting more than 700 combined rushing and receiving yards in the Huskies' scintillating 2016 season, adding six touchdowns to lead UW to the College Football Playoff. It was midway through that 2016 season, though, when McClatcher first injured his left knee. The sophomore missed the better part of a month, before
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returning for the Huskies' final seven games of the year. Early in the 2017 season, McClatcher injured the knee again — this time, partially tearing his ACL. He tried to play through the injury against Colorado, only to break his left ankle, ending his 2017 season. McClatcher worked his way back in 2018, but something wasn’t right. The game he had played since he was eight years old just didn’t feel the same. His football home felt foreign. The 5-foot-8 standout played in eight games, but Washington coach Chris Petersen could tell something was wrong. “He sensed what was going on with me during the season,” McClatcher says. “Football just wasn’t right for me at the time." McClatcher wanted to be on the field with his teammates, but after spending more than two years playing through or rehabilitating serious injuries, he knew he needed a break. While some coaches may have pushed McClatcher to play anyway, Petersen showed empathy for his star wideout and worked with him to take a step away from football. "Coach Pete definitely helped me out through the process," McClatcher says. Washington’s coach has built his program around helping his Huskies develop into men both on and off the field, with a "Built for Life" philosophy that has been well-documented. Petersen told McClatcher that he wanted to ensure the receiver was in a good space physically and mentally before considering a return. “He’s a one-of-a-kind coach,” McClatcher says. “He realizes how life is, that you go through ups and downs but, at the end of the day, it’s how you prosper from it. "That’s one thing that sets this program apart from the others in college football," he continues. "Coach Pete doesn’t just focus on football. He sets us up for all phases of life.”
t was, at times, a strange feeling for McClatcher. Instead of competing on Saturdays, he found himself watching games on TV. But, while he wasn’t on the sideline, his teammates were always close by. “It was hard,” he says. “I wasn’t there with my teammates. I was watching it on my TV. But, my teammates were with me from start to finish. They make it easy for me, having good vibes every day, being able to be with them.” McClatcher needed the step back to move forward. The break from the game helped rekindle his passion.
Continued on page 24 GoHUSKIES
"A lot of things happen in people’s lives you can’t really control," he says. "Time goes by so fast. My thing is, just make each day the best I can, try to get better as a player, move on from what happened last year, and focus on the future. "I’m in a better place mentally and physically, and I’m ready to be with my teammates." Count offensive coordinator Hamdan as someone who is happy to have McClatcher back in the Huskies' game plan. "I’ll be honest with you: I missed Chico when I was gone,” Hamdan told the Times, referring to the year Hamdan spent coaching in the NFL before returning to UW in 2018. “There’s no other way to say it. You spend any time with the kid — he really doesn’t say a lot, but he’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever been around. So, take the football side of things out of it, but I do know how important the game is to him, and it’s really good to have him back.” McClatcher doesn’t want to look too far ahead, because he’s having too much fun living in the moment. “I want to play every down like it’s my last,” he says. “What comes of it is going to come. I’m not really focused on expectations.” When asked if he’s learned any lessons over the course of his journey at Washington, McClatcher pauses before answering. Then, he comes up with one word: “Accountability.” It's a reference to another tenet of Petersen’s program, and it has helped McClatcher keep everything in perspective. “I’m blessed and grateful to be in this position right now, working with a great coaching staff and competing with my teammates at a high level in the Pac-12,” he says. “I want to enjoy every moment and do it for as long as I can. I want to keep this season rolling."
“I’m blessed and grateful to be in this position right now...”
Veni, Vidi, Vici Washington‘s men‘s basketball team showed some impressive game — and soaked up centuries of culture — during a 10-day trip to Italy this summer BY BRIAN BEAKY EDITOR • GOHUSKIES MAGAZINE
hey came, they saw, they conquered. More than 2,000 years after Julius Caesar made short work of the Pharnaces, Washington's men's basketball team rolled into Caesar's old stomping grounds and notched four straight victories over top-flight Italian professional teams during a 10-day tour of Italy in August. The Huskies spent four days in Rome and six in Florence, playing two games in each historic city. "We're really excited for this opportunity for our team to not only have a great cultural experience but to compete against some very high-level competition overseas during our offseason," said head coach Mike Hopkins, prior to the team's departure. In addition to the opportunity to get a head start on preparations for the 201920 Husky basketball season, the trip was a cultural and educational experience for Washington's players. All of the players enrolled in a summer course focused on teaching the history and culture of the cities Washington would visit. During their 10 days in Italy, the Huskies visited the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain and the Duomo in Florence, took a cooking class in Tuscany and participated in many other cultural experiences. PAGE 26
NCAA rules allow each team to make one offseason foreign trip every four years. The Huskies traveled to Australia and New Zealand in 2016, and visited Spain, France, Monaco and Senegal in 2012. Senior Sam Timmins and senior Quin Barnard, along with transfers Quade Green and J'Raan Brooks, all made the trip and took part in many cultural experiences, but were not eligible to compete. Timmins and Barnard had already both participated in a foreign tour, while Green (Kentucky) and Brooks (USC) sat out due to NCAA transfer rules. Additionally, freshman Jaden McDaniels did not make the trip. Center Bryan Penn-Johnson particularly enjoyed the third day of the trip, when the Huskies were trained in gladitorial combat. "Today was a big sightseeing day for the squad in Rome," Penn-Johnson wrote in an online diary at GoHuskies.com. "We started with Gladiator School...[then] went to tour the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Roman history is something I’ve always been interested in, so today was especially exciting for me." More exciting for Hopkins was the team's performance across its four games. Playing teams from Italy's Serie A — the highest level of professional basketball in the country — Washington went 4-0, with an average margin of victory of 44 points. The Huskies got off to a hot start in the opener, scoring the first 21 points of the game against Peak Warriors, and led 32-3 at the end of the first quarter, before cruising to a 94-35 win. Junior Nahziah Carter led UW with a teamhigh 18 points and added five rebounds, while freshman Isaiah Stewart and redshirt freshman Nate Roberts contributed 16 points apiece. Roberts nearly had a double-double, pulling down a team-high nine rebounds, while Stewart grabbed seven himself. The following day, the Huskies toured Vatican City before a rematch with Peak Warriors, emerging again with a 91-46 win. Stewart notched his first double-double in Husky purple with 24 points and 16 rebounds, while Carter added 18 points and six boards. While the victory was notable, Roberts wrote that the Sistine Chapel made perhaps a more lasting memory. "We did a tour of the Vatican and got to see a lot of history, experience a lot of things that the great artists have created. It was beautiful to see," he wrote. "Seeing the Sistine Chapel was a standout moment for me today; that was absolutely amazing. This whole trip has definitely been a blessing and we have been fortunate to experience a whole new culture." Following that second game, Washington headed north to the center of the Italian Renaissance and home to Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Huskies' next two opponents — Florence. And, just as the Allied armies discovered in 1944, moving up the Italian peninsula brought stiffer resistance. Washington's third opponent, Pistoia, kept the game close throughout, and trailed by just 10 points with 90 seconds left in the game. Ultimately, though, the Huskies held on for a 73-59 win, carried by 17 points and 10 rebounds from Carter, and another outstanding 25-point, nine-rebound effort from Stewart. The Huskies closed out the trip with a 97-39 win over Siena, with Carter and Stewart again each recording a double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds for Carter; 13 and 12, respectively, for Stewart). Just as Pistoia had the night before, Siena came out strong and trailed the Huskies by just four points, 2420, with eight minutes to play in the second quarter. Washington, however, finished the game on a 73-19 run that left head coach Hopkins feeling good about where his team currently stands entering the 2019-20 campaign. "This has been a great experience for our team during the last week and GoHUSKIES
a half," Hopkins said. "We learned a lot, got to experiment with our offense, defense and lineups, and got some quality reps in during these four games. "Most importantly, [we got to] experience the culture and history," he added. "I've been pleased with the guys' attitudes and energy and we've seen some really good things that we'll be able to build upon." Washington won the Pac-12 championship last year with a 15-3 conference record, finishing 27-9 overall en route to their first NCAA Tournament since 2011, ultimately reaching the second round before falling to top-seeded North Carolina. The team's performance during the tour — despite missing two of its newcomers in McDaniels and Green — will no doubt have Husky fans fired up to catch UW in action when they return to the court later this month. Season-ticket packages and individual game tickets are available now. Call 206-543-2200 or visit GoHuskies.com today to book a front-row seat to all the action!
Photographs by RED BOX PICTURES
Aaron Fuller made a spectacular one-handed catch on the first of his two touchdown grabs in Washingtonâ€™s season-opening win.
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