Aug. 15, 2005
The name "fall camp", the term generally given to the three weeks of practice prior to the start of the college football season, is a misnomer. After all, it's still the middle of summer and by all scientific standards, fall doesn't start until after the Huskies have played their first three games.
So, really, it's summer camp. And, to most Husky players, it's a good thing that summers in Seattle aren't quite as hot as the average August afternoon almost everywhere else in the nation.
After all, highs in Seattle in the summer months rarely make it out of the 80s and the humidity is never as thick as you'd find through the plains of the midwest, the deserts of the southwest or the marshes of the deep south.
"I think we're pretty fortunate," says junior tailback Shelton Sampson, a native of the Puget Sound area. "Washington seems to be known sometimes for the rainy weather, but when we have good weather here, it's really good weather and we appreciate it."
In many places around the U.S., the high heat in August has forced teams to practice either very early in the morning or in the evening as a safety precaution for the players. While the medical staff at the UW still concerns itself with keeping the players hydrated and monitoring possible heat-related ailments, the Huskies are fortunate that the risks in Seattle aren't what they are in the warmer regions.
"I never really thought about it that much, but I suppose it is a good thing that we have the weather we have," Sampson says. "My little brother [Shelvion Williams] plays at UNLV and he says that they have to practice early in the morning because it's blazing in the afternoon. So that makes me really appreciate it."
Junior punter Sean Douglas knows all about heat and humidity as he came to the UW from Bellevue, Neb., near Omaha, where the August thermometer regularly hits three digits and the humidity isn't far behind.
"I'd rather be here," Douglas says. However, he allows, "it's still pretty hot here because the sun seems so hot.
"Summer time in Seattle is nice," Douglas says. "I hate the humidity back home."
"I'm glad it's not 100," Sampson agrees. "That's hard to play in."
"Football weather differs around the country," says junior cornerback Matt Fountaine, from Oakland, Calif. "You go with what you have. Whatever the day brings is what you deal with."
Most players would prefer a true fall day for a football practice -- the type of days that generally arrive in the Pacific Northwest come October.
"I'd take it about 60 degrees," Fountaine suggests for his perfect practice weather. "That's what I like. You can get out there and run around and not get too much sweat in your eyes."
"I'd like it to be 68 degrees and party cloudy," says Douglas.
The Huskies continued their workouts Monday with a pair of split-squad, afternoon practices at Husky Stadium. Tuesday marks the first two-a-day session of the camp as the full squad will work out once in the morning and again in the afternoon.
"We'll go from the mandated five-day acclimation period into the two-one, two-one rotation of modern college two-a-days," Coach Tyrone Willingham explained today. The rules mandate that a team can't practice twice in a day for two straight days. "For us, the real demands are on the players probably more so than the coaches."
Willingham admitted that, in his experience as a coach, teams might start to tire a little bit as the fall camp moves into its second week and into two-a-days. While he's aware of that tendancy, he intends to limit it as much as he can.
"What I always ask of our team is that they go 100 percent," says Willingham, "and I can figure out everything else. But if you don't go 100 percent, I won't know what adjustments I have to make."
Willingham characterized Sunday's practice as "another positive step forward. The key is to take yesterday and then take another step today ... we need to keep moving on that upward climb."