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Q&A with Dominic Daste
Release: 11/15/2000
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Nov. 15, 2000

Why did you choose to come to the University of Washington?

Daste: "At the time, I was being recruited by Arizona, Arizona State and UW. UW started recruiting me very early in my high school career and I think I clicked best with their coaches and players. I thought this was the best decision for me. I think Seattle was probably a little more conducive to me than the heat in Arizona. I think I really clicked with the coaches and players when I came up to visit. I really enjoyed myself."

Is Seattle at all similar to where you are from? Was it a little bit of culture shock when you moved to Seattle?

Daste: "Not really. I come from a small town called San Demas in California. It is kind of like this, you kind of live up against the mountains. It is a little warmer than this and it doesn't exactly have the water, like the lake here. It is hard to deal with the smog there. Coming here was kind of culture shock for me, because Seattle is a little more liberal than I thought, with the Ave and some of the other things. I think the whole college experience shocked me, with some of the things that go on, like people on their soap boxes at times in Red Square, and some of the marches that go through campus. There is a cause for everything it seems, not that I am against any of them. It just surprised me."

You live with three other football players, has that helped you establish a family away from California?

Daste: "Yes it has. I really enjoy the people I live with. I live with Kyle Benn, John Hart and Wes Call, and Marques (Tuiasosopo) and Pat (Conniff) live next door to us. It is kind of like we do have a family. We are pretty much inseparable. We are like a bunch of grumpy old men. If we are not arguing, we are not really happy. I guess we are the saltiest bunch of people there is."

Does your family in California get to see all of the Huskies' games?

Daste: "They try to make as many games as possible. They were here this last weekend. My parents don't miss a game. I guess I have quite a large following. I get quite a few phone calls after the game is over. It means a lot to me. My parents have gone out of their way many times for me, to come make my games. I absolutely enjoy it. I actually just said goodbye to them this morning (Monday). I appreciate more than anything that they come up to all of my games and support me. I absolutely love that."

Will you go home for Thanksgiving?

Daste: "I go home on the 21st. I am counting down the days. I haven't been home since January of last year. I went on vacation this summer instead of going home, so it was my choice. A lot of family was up here last weekend, but I am excited to see them and some of my friends that I haven't seen in a long time. Also, just to walk in my old room and just relax for a week or two and get healthy. My room is still there, it has kind of become an office, but my bed is still there. I will probably build up anger while I am gone so I can unleash it (on my roommates) when I get back. I will have my friends at home there and just relax. I will spend time with my family. My grandparents will be there, and I don't get to see them very often. I will just relax and eat food at home, I will probably do the same thing I do here, and relax since I won't be playing football. There are also a couple of teammates that live down there. Matt Rogers actually lives about five minutes from me. I didn't know him until we came up here."

What do you do for fun?

Daste: "Basically, when we get home from practice we all pick a couch and argue with each other. We watch a lot of TV. When we are home, there is not a whole lot of time that we aren1t just sitting around joking with each other. That's about it. We are not very interesting people.

You guys go out and eat together a lot. What is your favorite food?

Daste: "I really like hamburgers. Hamburgers and pizza are basically the only things I eat, unless I go home. My mom is a chef. We usually have o-line pizza on Thursdays but when my mom comes up she cooks for the offensive line. She is from New Orleans, so she made us fried chicken and jambalaya, potato salad and bread pudding. I haven't been home in a while so it was good to get some home cooking."

Do you have a favorite television show or movie that you guys watch?

Daste: "I really like "Armageddon" with Bruce Willis. I like the fairy tale ending where you know what is going to happen , but it was a good movie. It had a weird comical time as well. It is basically a guy movie with a lot of explosions and loud noises. Men aren't complicated creatures. As far as TV, basically, whoever in the house has the remote control has the designated power at the time. We watch Drew Carey. It depends on the night. We get home at different times, like Monday nights we won't get home until nine or 10 o'clock. We watch a lot of SportsCenter. On Sundays, it is purely football. That is our glory day, I don't think we remove ourselves from the couch except to call for pizza or something. It is mainly football on Sundays with a little wrestling mixed in. Wrestling is a man's soap opera I guess."

When you watch football, do you find yourself watching the offensive line more intently than the rest of the game?

Daste: "I enjoy watching the offensive line in the NFL because I think they are just phenomenal athletes. You can clearly see the difference between the people who can and can't play in college and then the pros. Some of the things they do are just unbelievable. I really enjoy watching Randall McDaniel, who plays for Tampa Bay. I have tried to mirror my stance after his. They are both as ugly as you can believe. I think it is just phenomenal the things that they can accomplish at that level."

Do you watch other college games as well?

Daste: "If we get a chance after our game, we watch other college games. I try to at least catch some of the highlights. Also, if we have a late game, we can catch one in the morning. I enjoy watching football. I know a lot of the guys in the Pac-10, so I enjoy watching and seeing how they are doing. I keep track of all my friends that have dispersed around the nation and are playing football. I think it is kind of neat. I think that since we play football, we can see what is going on a little more than the average person."

What did you do for fun in high school? Anything different that you do now?

Daste: "I played a lot of sports growing up. I played soccer and basketball. I really enjoyed playing basketball before I got hurt. My parents kept me in a lot of sports. I was constantly going to either soccer, basketball or football practice. I was a pretty active kid I guess. I played basketball a lot of weekends. I didn't work much. I only worked with my mother, she has her own business."

Did you ever think of playing basketball on the college level?

Daste: "No, I wasn't that good. Maybe in my mind I thought I was that good, but no. Basketball is just something I did recreationally. I stopped playing for the purpose that my ankle doesn't need any more pounding than it deserves."

Can you describe how your ankle injury happened?

Daste: "It was November of 1996, the Oregon State game. I was pulling through the hole and I got caught up in the pile and I got hit on my left leg. I had a spiral fracture in my fibula, separated the ankle and I tore everything inside. It didn't feel very good. I took the following year off, red-shirted that year, and then came back the following year, 1998. I really don't think about during the game or anything like that. I get most of my pain after the game and when I wake up the next morning. Then it is really stiff and sore and tired. Sometimes it takes maybe a day or two to get a little feeling back. Ice, a lot of therapy and tape takes care of it."

Did being injured and missing a full year of football give you a different perspective on the game?

Daste: "A little bit. That was a really hard year for me. To have something that you have been a part of for a really long time and then be forced to sit as a spectator, it puts things in perspective that you can't play football forever. There was a moment when I didn't know if I was going to play again. You just look past it."

Did you learn anything during that time or during your playing years that have made you into the player you are now?

Daste: "I think I have tried to put together a combination of things: the technique of Olin Kreutz, the power of Bob Sapp, how he was so strong and physical , he manhandled people at times and then certain techniques of Tony Coats, he was a great pass set and things like that. I think that Coach Gilbertson has helped out quite a bit and I am extremely glad he is part of the staff. He is a lot of the reason I stuck around and kept playing."

With your ankle the way it is, can you or do you even think about going on to the next level and playing in the NFL?

Daste: "Not really. The way I look at it is this. The NFL is a business and they are not going to buy damaged goods. That really doesn't bother me though. I have plans for after the season and I have played a wonderful career here. I wouldn't trade anything that has happened to me. If I go out and break my other leg this weekend, it wouldn't bother me a bit. I would still be the happiest guy in the world. "

What are your plans for life after football?

Daste: "I am going to get my teaching credential. I want to coach high school football and because an elementary school teacher. I really enjoy little kids--as long as they go home at three o1clock and they aren't mine. I volunteer at elementary schools around here and I just really enjoy kids. I like being around them. They are fun to be with. I think it would be better to hang out with little kids all season than grown-ups. I want to teach kindergarten or first grade. Eventually I am going to have to move to high school if I am going to coach high school football. I don't know, maybe I could put together a kindergarten football team. Maybe that is something I could look into."

Have you seen things in your own coaches or other coaches that you want to pattern yourself after? Having been a player and been through the injuries, the struggles, etc., do you think you are better prepared to be a coach?

Daste: "I have so much to learn it is inconceivable for me right now. I think I have had the opportunity where I have been around some of what I think are the best coaches in the nation Describe Saturday's game, your last in Husky Stadium. What was it like to play your last home game with this team?

Daste: "It was nice. We teared up a little, a bunch of 300-pound men crying before a game. I guess it is not something you see everyday. The guys I have met here mean the world to me. We are all really close. I am going to be a groomsman in Chad Ward's wedding. I have lived with these guys and basically, they are my family. I wouldn't trade any of them for anyone in the world."

Speaking of your last game, what was your last trip down the tunnel at Husky Stadium like?

Daste: "I wasn't sure what to do. I think it hit me more after the game was over, when I had to walk off the field. I was focused in on the game before, but when the final horn sounded and Marques took a knee on that last play, it was kind of weird. You knew that you weren't going to be sitting in front of 75,000 people playing football anymore. It was kind of depressing because I am going to miss it. It is something that I have been doing for five years. You never think it going to end, but it does, and I have enjoyed every single second of it.

Was there anything that happened that made it a little more special for you?

Daste:I looked up in the stands at one time, and I don't know how she did it, but my mom had a sign about 15 feet long that said "We love our baby, No. 60." It was bright yellow, so I am sure ABC got a nice shot of it. It was just really special. I don't know how to explain it. I was just really happy to win the game and go out on a winning note. I had 25 people at the game and just to have all of that support and all of those people show up meant a lot to me."

This spring will be your first off-season without football, weight training, spring practices, etc. Do you have plans for that time?

Daste: "I think that is when it is going to bother me most that I am not playing football anymore, because right now I am still occupied with football. I still have two quarters left, and when school is over I just go home. I will probably keep working out, but it is going to be kind of weird to be just a student, and not a student slash athlete. I think it is going to take a little getting used to."

Are there any games in your five-year career at UW that really stick out to you, that you will always remember, whether for the type of defense they used or just the game itself?

Daste: "In 1999, when we went down to Oregon State, they used a whole assortment of defenses and it was hard to get a beat on people and where they were. It was kind of confusing. They did a very good job of confusing their opponents. I think we put up 55 points on them but it was complete chaos as to what we were doing. I think after the game, we were not as much physically exhausted as mentally. I think they had 22 people on the field for their defense at one time. I think that sticks out. I think my true freshman year when we went to Notre Dame also sticks out. I got my first real taste of big time football then. I got hit a few times and I didn't know whether I was coming or going. As far as moments, I will definitely never forget the Stanford game, and going 80 yards in 30 seconds. A couple of years ago down at Arizona State, Reggie Davis's catch to win the game was also a special moment. I remember my first moment ever stepping on the field in 1996 versus BYU. I think Shane Fortney was quarterback at the time. I didn't hear a word that came out of his mouth though. I was in awe of the 75,000 people screaming and yelling. I had no clue what was going on, I was just happy to be there."

Was it different the first time that you stepped onto the field in Husky Stadium than it was the last time, Saturday?

Daste: "The first time I stepped on Husky field it was clean-up time. I didn't really know what I was doing. Basically, it felt to me like I was still playing in high school. I think the last time I stepped off the field, Saturday, there was a sense of accomplishment for me. I tried through everything. I was here with the guys I came in with. I looked around after the game and saw Chad (Ward), Elliot (Silvers), Matt Fraize and Matt Rogers, even Kyle (Benn). I felt like I had played with them for a long time, and we are all very close. It was a special moment. I can't even tell you how happy I was."

It isn't really over for you yet. You still have the Washington State game and a bowl game of some sort. Any insight on the WSU game?

Daste: "We still have a lot of work to do. This week is going to be a really hard week. We need to play the best we can possibly play or we are going to be disappointed in ourselves. They have a very good football team and they have nothing to lose. They always play their best football against us. We are going to have to play hard. If we do, we will be rewarded."

What allowed the team to rack up so many rushing yards against UCLA?

Daste: "I think at lot has to do with the coaching. Schematically, they put together a good game plan for us. It was just a big deal to the offensive line to come out and play well. There were six seniors out there playing and there is a lot of pride on that field. We wanted to play up to the standards of Washington and the lines before us. Pete Kaligis is one of our strength coaches. We wanted to play well and make those guys before us proud. Hopefully we have done that, and held Washington up to a high standard. "

The underclassmen have big shoes to fill with you all leaving. Have you been trying to help coach them along and ease the transition?

Daste: "You can already see it taking place. The younger guys are already becoming salty, bitter old men. I am not worried about them at all. They work hard like everyone else around here. They understand that we don't expect anything different around here. During practice, coach can't get to everybody, so there are times when the older guys coach the younger guys. You just learn by watching. It is something that the older guys when I was younger did for me, and I appreciate it very much. I learned how to play football from guys like Lynn Johnson, Bob Sapp, Olin Kruetz. It is something that is handed down."

Do you have any ritual before the game? Tell me about the infamous T-shirt you have.

Daste: The only real ritual I have is the T-shirt. I have been wearing the same shirt for going on 10 years now. The poor thing, I don't think it has any more games left in it. I wore it every day in high school at practice and my first two years here I wore it every day at practice. It was getting washed so much it was dry rotting. I had it grafted onto another shirt and now I just wear it for games. I don't know how it came to this but it stuck with me. My whole family is from New Orleans, and when I was a kid I went to Grambling University and I bought a Grambling shirt. I wore it a lot and then I started wearing it to practice and then I started wearing it every day. It just kind of became me. The shirt is not in very good shape right now. It gets washed once a week right after the game. I just hope it has two games left in it. Thick and thin the shirt sticks with me. I thought about throwing it away after I broke my ankle, but it stuck with me. It is a sight to see. It is in my locker tucked away, and it only comes out on game day."

What you do to get pumped up and prepared for a game? Is there a winding down process after the game?

Daste: "I envision what I have to do--every block, every situation I could possibly be in. I think about what my opponent would do in different situations. I am a pretty quiet guy before the game. I just get ready by myself. I don't really scream or yell. I just stay to myself and focus on what I have to do. Right after the game, there is just a sense of accomplishment that we played well, a sense of pride that we have come out on top for the majority of the season. Afterwards, I just hang out with the guys, and relax. For the majority of the season we have been so hyped up on adrenaline from coming from behind that it takes a while to calm down and realize that the game is over. It takes a while to wind down. You have been so jacked up for the past four or five hours almost that you just don't shut it off."

There is obviously a lot of stress on the offensive line to make sure the plays work. Is it "hard on your heart" in these come-from-behind, fourth-quarter victories?

Daste: "I guess it is. I have gray hair, that it why I shave my head (he laughs). I think we take a lot of responsibility whether or not this offense works or not and we should. We are the biggest group on the offense that can control the game. There are five of us on the field at a time. If we are not clicking, the whole offense really isn't clicking. If we are behind, there is an urgency that we need to kick it into high gear, score some points and get back in the game. We don't wait until the fourth quarter to decide to play though. Our sense of urgency is in all four quarters of the game. Our philosophy of football is that we want to pound on you as long as possible and hopefully you are going to get tired and we can take advantage of that. When you carry the ball 65 times in a football game, the carry in the first quarter is going to get you a lot more in the fourth quarter after you have been pounding on the other team."

Is there anything you want to be able to say you have left here at Washington?

Daste: "I just want people to know that I have tried to the best of my ability and worked hard. I have hopefully followed the footsteps of other great Huskies that have been here. I don't know if I will leave a mark. I just came and I played football. Hopefully, I have played well enough and up to the standards of Washington football. I think I have."

What is the one thing that people do not know about you?

Daste: "I think it my family. I am extremely close with my parents and my two older sisters. I think I have been fortunate, whereas today I guess it is normal to have a single parent family, my parents have been married almost 40 years now. I have been blessed to have a wonderful family and all of the support. My family means everything to me. My parents have sacrificed a million times over for me. I am just extremely proud to be the son of Macio and Diane. I always want to make my parents proud. I think they enjoy watching me play football. I play for myself, I play for my team and I play for my parents. I think they have instilled things in me that show a lot on the football field. I think I could have given up and stopped playing but they have instilled things in me, like you need to finish what you start."

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