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A whole new ball game: Husky Stadium reopens

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Bob Rondeau is ‘The Voice of the Huskies’

Air force

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
Columns Magazine
December 2003

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’”

The Huard brothers are Huskies for life

Deep purple

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
Columns Magazine
June 2016

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”

Football isn’t what matters most to Jake Locker

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Cleaning up the trash on Mount Everest

Clean climb

Mountain climber was so horrified to see Mount Everest covered with garbage, he decided to clean it up

By Derek Belt
Columns Magazine
December 2009

SEATTLE — At the top of the world, where the jagged peaks and snow-covered slopes of Mount Everest hug even the highest of clouds, garbage besets the brilliance. Empty oxygen bottles. Shredded nylon tents. Solid waste from decades of climbing expeditions once spoiled the long haul up, rendering the world’s tallest mountain a giant junkyard in the sky.

Brent Bishop, ’93, grew up in a climbing family and knew Mount Everest was dirty. At 27 years old, he was determined to do something about it.

“It was a real symbol,” Bishop says. “If we can’t keep the highest mountain in the world clean, what hope is there for other areas?”

Bishop’s M.B.A. program at the University of Washington tackled cutting-edge environmental management issues and inspired him to create the Buy Back Program, which pays Sherpas—local climbers employed by mountaineering expeditions as guides—a few extra dollars to bring used oxygen bottles and other trash down the mountain to Base Camp.

Continue reading “Cleaning up the trash on Mount Everest”

Rat City Rollergirls: Not what you think

By Derek Belt
Columns Magazine
March 2010

SEATTLE — What comes to mind when you think of the Rat City Rollergirls? If it’s tattooed women and fast, physical action, you’re not alone. But that’s not the whole story.

Meet Valerie Morris, ’08. She’s tall, pretty and goes by the skater name Valtron 3000. She’s also a scientist, having earned her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Washington.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she concentrates on leukemia research, but says, “When I go out there and skate, I get to be someone totally different.” Continue reading “Rat City Rollergirls: Not what you think”

History of Huskies in the Olympic Games

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Why UW quarterback Cody Pickett doesn’t like talking to the media

Cody calls his own shots

By Derek Belt
UW Daily
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”

Going to your rival’s game in another state

By Derek Belt
Mobile Press-Register
Sept. 9, 2006

AUBURN, ALA. — This is the story of a Washington Husky all alone in the Heart of Dixie. A tale of two heated rivals sharing Jell-O shots in a foreign land.

I was fortunate enough to attend four Auburn games this year, including the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa. Each game was unique in its own crazy way, but one stands out as a game I will never, ever forget.

Auburn-Washington State. Opening day.

This wasn’t much of a contest for most Tiger fans, as Auburn stomped the Cougars 40-14 on ESPN2. For many in attendance, it was merely the beginning of another successful season.

For me, it was one of the best games I’ve ever been to. I’d stack it right up there with Saints-Falcons last year on Monday Night Football and the 2001 Rose Bowl, in which Washington engulfed Drew Brees and the Purdue Boilermakers, 34-24.

What made it so great, you ask? Continue reading “Going to your rival’s game in another state”

Don James reflects 10 years after leaving UW

Catching up with the Dawgfather

By Derek Belt
UW Daily
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”

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