By Mason Kelley
Dwayne Washington was headed for trouble. The Washington running back was trying to keep his canoe from crashing into another boat.
As his efforts proved futile, a teammate shouted, “Hey, give it that stiff arm.”
Washington eventually corrected his course, but it didn’t help his time during the Huskies’ fall camp canoe races Wednesday at the university’s Waterfront Activities Center.
With the team divided into groups of two, the Huskies feverishly paddled a circular course. The goal was to record the fastest time. Some pairs – running back Deontae Cooper and linebacker Travis Feeney – had little trouble. Others – lineman Dexter Charles and defensive back Jonathan Kwon – well, let’s just say it was a struggle.
“I didn’t know I was such a natural on the boat, but I had a fun time,” Cooper said with a laugh. “We stole the event.”
Linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha looked like an experienced paddler, while quarterback Cyler Miles and linebacker Cory Littleton seemed to master the art of paddling backward, until they tipped over.
“We’re always having a good time, especially when it’s a team activity,” receiver Jaydon Mickens said. “We’re at each other’s necks every day at practice, so it’s good to get out and do something fun. Of course, football is our love, but it’s good to do something away from football, because you need a little break sometimes.”
When you live by a lake, it is important to carve out opportunities to enjoy the water. Washington coach Chris Petersen expects a lot of his players, but he also understands there is a time to grind and a time to unwind.
Whether they were laughing at an overturned canoe, or an accidental outbreak of bumper boats, the Huskies made the most of the bonding experience.
“Anyone who has played knows that football, and the demands of it, are hard,” Cooper said. “When he (Petersen) takes the time to let us do fun events like bowling, go-karts and canoeing, that makes it all worth it.”
The competition was the first time Charles had ever been in a canoe. It didn’t go well, but that made the experience memorable.
“We were paddling, but we couldn’t figure out how to turn,” Charles said. “We were kind of treating it like a car, trying to lean. We leaned a little too far and flipped over, but we had a great time.”