How important is it that we see a return of a successful community football program in the state of Washington? I have in previous posts delineated the main reasons that it is extremely important for the players and, possibly more importantly, for the community as a whole. First, we'll look at the players. It would be interesting indeed if we could look into a magic mirror and see how many of our teachers and coaches (I know of two others that I played with and I believe that there could be eight to ten more) who went on to four-year schools and into education. Why did we choose the Jr. College route? It was a second chance for a lot of us. I don't know how many businessmen like insurance man Mark Sayko, who went on to play for and graduate from Washington State or how many lawyers like the late Oz Dire were produced, but that was just Everett Junior College, and if you included Olympic, Shoreline, Grays Harbor, Yakima, Wenatchee, Columbia Basin, Walla Walla, and Spokane Falls, the total number must have been astronomical. For decades these schools were able to keep young men in school by offering them the chance to test themselves on the football field and in doing so work together toward a common goal, the very definition of teamwork. Our schools were more competitive for it, our businesses were richer for it, and our courts and our military were stronger because of a commitment to greatness that our leaders seem to have lost track of (are you listening WWU leadership?).
A good friend of mine, Glenn K. Smith comes from Hutchinson, Kansas, and he has spoken at length about the football that is played in that state. I had a tendency to shrug it off, believing it to be little more than home-state pride speaking. Then, I started investigating. Kansas has three Division 1 universities, 5 Division II schools,10 NAIA colleges, and 8 community colleges. That gives young men in Kansas (population 2 million, 800 thousand) a fighting chance to receive one of the approximately 2,000 football positions available. In the state of Washington (population six million, 800 thousand), we have the UW, WSU, Eastern Washington, Central, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran, Whitworth, Lewis and Clark, and...I believe that's it. Eight institutions of higher learning that offer football. This in a state with almost three times the population of Kansas, and we have 400 to 500 football positions available, four times less than Kansas. Each year our high schools graduate thousands of testosterone-driven young men and, considering the job opportunities out there, we dump them on the streets. All revved up and no place to go. This is a recipe for disaster. This is where Tim Dennis, his coaching staff and the rest of the NWJCFL programs come in. In order to play for their program, a kid must be registered in a nearby college and must be passing classes. This is monitored and those players who are not abiding by the rules are asked to leave.
The local colleges will have nothing to do with the NWJCFL, which is shameful. They will accept the money from the young men who enter their hallowed halls, and then, once the money is in their pockets, they turn their backs. They seem to refuse to understand that what Tim Dennis (and this league) is doing is a GOOD thing!! What these players are doing is a GOOD thing. They are paying their own way, buying their own equipment, all for a chance to continue playing this game that they love. Could some of them continue playing at a higher level? Certainly. Julian Willis (he goes by J-Dub) is a 5'10", 187 pound running back from Cascade High School, who, according to sources who witnessed it, absolutely lit up the field last year against Linfield (Oregon) College. Four-year schools are already looking at him. One of Coach Dennis's recruits is Martin Martinez who stands 6'3" and weighs about 335 pounds. Had Martin been here for his junior year (he had to spend the year in Mexico working to help relatives there), he would have appeared on all the recruiting radar; kids are generally recruited off their junior years. So, although he made All-Conference this past year, he was virtually unknown to recruiters. The Red Raiders give him another chance. This is a move that they are going to love. I know Martin personally, and I consider him to be a quality-character guy besides being an excellent athlete.