Aug. 27, 2009
Sarkisian Post-Practice Report
Jordan Polk Interview
Photo Gallery - Thursday Morning Practice
Raise The Woof Guest Information
Tickets Still Available for LSU Game
In-Season Practice Policies
SEATTLE - On the final day of fall camp, GoHuskies.com checked in with one Husky football fan that has attended nearly every practice of the fall. That's no surprise as he has as much invested in the success of the program as anyone because he's the athletic director at the UW, Scott Woodward.
A lifelong football fan growing up in Baton Rouge, La., Woodward enters his first football season the department's full-time director. He's taken an active interest in football practices and has been happy with what he's seen.
"I just like the overall feel of the team," Woodward reports. "These kids, you can tell at this point in the camp, that they believe. That they believe they can win games. They believe that if they do what they're told by their coaches, they can get it done. I see an overall sea change in attitude."
There's no doubt that the team's growth began in the spring, but Woodward sees a difference from then to now.
"It's evolved. Their heads were swimming in the spring. You could just tell they were thinking a lot -- think about how they play the game," he said. "Now, I think it's becoming more natural to them. You can see that they're doing what they're supposed to be doing by second nature."
Much has been made of how practices are run. They're high energy with, often, music blasting throughout. As many as 2,000 fans have jammed the sidelines, leading to an exciting, open, sometimes game-like environment.
It's an environment that Woodward has enjoyed being part of.
"It's nice to see, but I don't want to tell everyone that this is a cure-all or the only way to do it," he said. "There are a lot of ways to do it. There are a lot of good coaches who close practice, but a lot of good coaches open practices. I think it was needed for us, and I think Coach Sarkisian thought so as well. It's been very positive for us.
"One way or the other, as long as the kids are believing in what you're doing and they're listening and buying in, that's the most important thing.
With just over a week until the first game, Woodward is like the rest of us, getting excited for the start of college football season. The vision of the Huskies and LSU on the field under the lights next Saturday night has the athletic director as charged up as many fans.
"Yeah, I'm beyond excited," Woodward said. "I'm doing what all the fans do, reading the websites and checking the updates. This time of year is exciting to me. I love it, and I think it's going to be an exciting season."
In his role as athletic director, Woodward frequently finds himself talking to fans, whether in formal talks, or simply one-on-one on the sidelines during a practice session. His message to the fan base is simple.
"The fans have stuck with us, so we don't need to ask them to stick with us," he explained. "They've endured a lot of pain, as we all have who work in the department or support Husky football. What I'm telling them to support our kids, and continue to do it, because they've been awesome in how they've approached the game.
"We're going to make progress. That's a given. Just continue to do what you do and that's yell your heads off and support our kids."
Thursday afternoon's second practice of the day, likely a very short session that begins at 4:15 p.m., signals the end of the camp. Tomorrow night, fans will greet the coaches and players at the sold-out Raise The Woof preseason kickoff dinner at Husky Stadium, and then preparations for the LSU game begin in earnest.