Play-by-play man Bob Rondeau has seen the highs and lows of UW sports and is not afraid to tell it like it is
By Derek Belt
SEATTLE — In October of 2000, the football game between Washington and Stanford was put on hold late in the third quarter while paramedics attended to downed Husky safety Curtis Williams.
Silence crept over Stanford Stadium following the helmet-to-helmet collision that 18 months later would claim the life of the 22-year-old senior. And though time itself seemed to stop, the radio broadcast did not.
Bob Rondeau was just as dumbfounded as everyone else as he kept a watchful eye on the action from the press box high above the field. With no television coverage that day, he was well aware listeners were glued to the radio, thirsting for every last drop of drama and detail.
And as the veteran broadcaster watched the tragedy unfold through a pair of binoculars, there was only one thing he could do—just keep talking.
The game eventually resumed and, despite a fallen teammate in the hospital, the Huskies pulled out an improbable 31-28 victory on Marques Tuiasosopo’s last-second touchdown pass. It was an amazing comeback for the UW and an unforgettable experience for its play-by-play announcer.
“When I got to the end of the game, I was ready to cry,” says Rondeau. “It was emotionally the most memorable game I’ve ever been involved with.” Continue reading “Bob Rondeau is ‘The Voice of the Huskies’”
From Puyallup to the pros and back, Damon and Brock Huard bleed purple and gold as they blaze a bright trail as alums.
By Derek Belt
SEATTLE — Los Angeles can look awfully good to a kid from the Pacific Northwest. Just thinking about the bright lights and endless summers can warm you up on a chilly, damp afternoon in Puyallup.
That was the case for 18-year-old Brock Huard in the winter of 1994. The nation’s top high school quarterback prospect and younger brother of then-UW signal caller Damon Huard, Brock had just returned home from a recruiting visit to UCLA. And he loved it there.
“I was seriously considering” joining the Bruins, he recalls. But the Huskies won out and Brock succeeded his older brother as Washington’s starting quarterback in 1996 after Damon graduated and went to the National Football League. Brock, too, would end up in the professional ranks, leaving as UW’s all-time leading passer after erasing several of Damon’s single-season and career passing records.
Damon, himself a star prospect out of Puyallup High School, didn’t waver in making his college decision back in 1991. “There was no doubt,” he says today. “I had always dreamed of being a Husky. To stay in my own backyard, it was a dream come true for a young guy.”
Things weren’t as clear-cut for Brock, the Gatorade National Player of the Year. There was just too much to like about the beautiful Southern California sunshine. Ultimately, he decided on the UW because staying home meant staying in the Northwest—for good.
“Damon and my dad both said if you want to lay down roots here, if you want to be part of this community, you could go win the Heisman Trophy at UCLA but you’re not coming back here. You’re just not going to have that kind of connection to the community. You’re going to be a UCLA guy in a purple-and-gold town. There was some real wisdom in that,” says Brock, now 39. Continue reading “The Huard brothers are Huskies for life”
Cody calls his own shots
By Derek Belt
Nov. 21, 2003
SEATTLE — Cody Pickett knew exactly what Sports Illustrated wanted when the call came. Surprisingly, he wasn’t that interested in giving it to them.
Pickett isn’t, and probably never will be, a media darling like most of the guys in his position. So there was a good chance the UW senior would be just fine without any of the attention. But this was sports journalism’s top dog on the phone—and they wanted to talk.
Still, he hesitated.
In Pickett’s eyes, football isn’t about who can run the fastest or rack up the most yards, it’s about winning. And winning can only be done as a team, which is why he was reluctant to grant Sports Illustrated its feature on the cowboy from Caldwell, Idaho. Continue reading “Why UW quarterback Cody Pickett doesn’t like talking to the media”
Catching up with the Dawgfather
By Derek Belt
Nov. 22, 2002
SEATTLE — Retirement means different things to different people.
It’s been 10 years since legendary football coach Don James left the UW, and the Dawgfather has been sure to enjoy a little bit of everything. The 69-year-old lives in Kirkland with his wife, Carol, and splits his time between his family and traveling around the world, all the while keeping a close eye on Husky football.
“We’ve had a great time the past 10 years,” James said. “We’ve done a lot of cruises, and I’ve spent more time with my grandkids than I did with my own kids.”
The couple, which celebrated its 50th wedding anniversary last summer, has three children and nine grandchildren to deal with. James admits becoming a grandfather has been a remarkable experience—one that changed his life.
“The birth of my grandkids was very special,” he said. “I guess you could say we’re a normal family, and we’ve been blessed with many more highs than lows.” Continue reading “Don James reflects 10 years after leaving UW”