Aug. 12, 2006
HUSKY STADIUM - Tackling dummies and blocking pads were replaced by hot-dog stands and autograph tables Saturday at Husky Stadium as Washington's football players welcomed hundreds of devoted Husky fans -- and a few curious onlookers -- for the team's annual Picture Day festivities.
The event, which provides fans of all ages the chance to meet and mingle with the coaches and players of the 2006 Washington Huskies football team, capped the team's first week of fall practices, which began Tuesday. Saturday's morning practice, prior to the day's events, was the team's fifth this week and -- by NCAA rule -- the first in which the team could wear full pads.
Head coach Tyrone Willingham said that despite the addition of pads, Saturday's practice wasn't any more intense than those that came before.
"The pads don't change necessarily our emphasis," he said. "From day one, we work most of our normal routine into practice regardless of whether or not we are wearing pads."
Sophomore defensive tackle Jordan White-Frisbee said that after a week of intense practices -- and especially this morning's high-intensity affair -- the smiles and cheers of the fans on Saturday were just what the players needed to energize themselves for the weeks to come.
"It's always a special experience to be able to come out and meet the folks who cheer for us all fall, and to get the chance to tell them how much we appreciate them," White-Frisbee said.
Fans on hand for the event lined up at autograph tables for the chance to share a moment with Washington's players and coaches, and enjoyed performances by the Husky band and cheer squad. Representatives from Washington's volleyball and men's and women's soccer teams were also on hand to greet fans and sign autographs for the kids in attendance.
Debbie Chapman has been bringing her family -- which includes nine-year old son Taylor and six-year-old daughter Lindsey -- to Picture Day for the last five years. A native of Kent, she's been attending Husky games since the late 1970s, when her parents had season tickets.
"It's fun for the kids to meet the players and get their autographs," she said. "When we're at the games, they always ask about the players they saw at Picture Day, and try to pick them out on the field."
The Chapmans were standing in line for the chance to meet freshman quarterback Jake Locker, who experienced his first Picture Day.
"It's amazing that this many people will come out just for the chance to meet us and talk to us," Locker said. "It really shows the support that we have in the community. That's exciting for me, as a young player, to see."
White-Frisbee says that after a hard first week of practice, seeing the excited children and receiving the well-wishes of fans helps re-energize the players for the remainder of fall camp.
"All week long the coaches are yelling at us and telling us what we need to do and how to do it better," he says. "Then we come out here and everybody just wants to smile and tell us they love us. It's a nice refresher before we get back to practicing again next week."