What Husky Stadium means to those who worked, played and cheered there
From Hugh McElhenny and Norm Dicks to Don James and Keith Jackson, icons of Husky Stadium tell us what Husky Stadium means to them.
Old Husky Stadium has seen its final game before a $250 million renovation begins, ending a 91-year era that made the jewel on Lake Washington part of the fabric of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. See full coverage
Memories: What Husky Stadium means
Timeline: From May 7, 1920 to Nov. 2010
Then & Now
The new Husky Stadium
University of Washington fans will be closer to the action in a cozier, upgraded setting.
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What does Husky Stadium mean to you? We asked that question of people who played, worked, coached or cheered there over the years.
Former USC head coach, 2001-2009, Seattle Seahawks head coach, 2010-present
"You would never think that place could generate the kind of noise it does. It isn't about the stadium. It's about the people that come to the games here in the Northwest. The fans are incredible."
Oregon coach, 1977-1994
"It's one of the iconic, older stadiums in the country, with the overhangs and the lake. It's lost some of its luster in recent years. But part of what always made it impressive to me was how tough a place it was to win, whether I was a playing against Jim Owens' teams or coaching against Don James."
Band announcer, 1961-present
"It has almost been a home for our family. My father at 14 attended the first game played at Husky Stadium. Ironically, I'll be at the last one."
UW student (1957-1961), booster
"Over the years Husky football has been the place to gather with family and friends. Many friends came about because of Husky football. ... I have attended home games for 54 years. It occurs to me just what a community event Husky football has become."
Congressman Norm Dicks
"Every time I look out of an airplane as I fly over Seattle, I'm proud as I look down on Husky Stadium. It always reminds me of the best years of my life."
UW president, 2004-2010
NCAA executive director, 2010-present
"Husky Stadium is the home of some of the most poignant and powerful memories I have. Walking the sidelines before a game to see the crowds come in. Hearing the Husky Band belt out "Bow Down to Washington" and the fans "WOOF!" after a great third-down stop. Getting a crushing hug from players after a win. Everything about the place — from locker room to field to president's box — brings back wonderful feelings and pride."
Defensive tackle, 1989-1991
"It's tradition to me — true Husky tradition. There's something about being there that's a passage for you as a player. You change who you are when you walk out of that tunnel and into that stadium."
Opposing head coach, WSU 1987-88
Oregon State, 1999-2000, Arizona State, 2007-present
"What a great place, what great tradition, what a great stadium. I've got a lot of memories, and most of them good."
Yell leader, 1982-86
(aka Capt. Husky, 1985-present)
"It's loud intensity. Smart fans focused on the game who know what's going on. They know they can make a difference on third-and-long."
Stadium announcer, 1986-2007
"I used to sneak into the stadium when I was little. It was like a playground for me."
Coach, 1975-76, 1989-1992, 1999-2004
"That press box, it's absolutely the best place I've ever called a game from. The view was spectacular. No other press box I've ever been in, college and professional, gave you a view of the game like that."
Press-box usher, 1985-present
"I love this spot and I love the job I'm doing, but this is cold. When the wind gets up in here, it speeds up right here (points to the back row in the press box), and we get some windy days."
"It's one thing to have a venue with the noise and charisma of Husky Stadium, but it's another to come down that tunnel and hear the barking, hitting the signs on the walls, getting your senses ready to play football. It reverberates. The tunnel amplifies everything."
KOMO broadcaster, 1954-1964
ABC Sports, 1965 to 2006
"It's utterly unique. I'd put it out there by itself as the grandest view in all of sports."
Head coach, 1975-1992
"It was a big part of my life, 18 years of my life. I did coach at other schools, but this was a bigger stage as a head coach. ... It's probably one of best locations of any stadium in America."
Offensive tackle, 1989-1992
"There are only a few things that stood out to me when I came here from Southern California — the Space Needle, the Kingdome and, of course, Husky Stadium. In my mind, it's one of the bigger icons that the Husky fans and the city of Seattle have for sports."
Play-by-play announcer, 1969-1980s
"You never forget the press box. The roar of the crowd and the place bouncing when you're up there. It's probably the only place in the world that bounces. You never forget that."
Player, coach, 1963-1998
"It's home. That's what I keep coming back to. It's 35 years of my life. ... The tunnel had wooden planks for flooring. It was dark. There were 60-watt bulbs that hung down and we'd break them as we ran out. The visitors' locker room was at the end and we'd pound on the door as we walked by."
WSU quarterback, 1995-1997
"For me, it means the college-football experience. It means 75,000 fans rooting against you. And it means absolutely dominating the Huskies in their house."
Athletic director, 1976-1991
"Building the upper deck on the north side gave us a complete stadium that turned that picturesque place into a band shell that reverberated the sound back and forth. When you talk about the Seahawks' 12th Man, that gave us the 14th man."
Associate athletic director, 1985-present
"My brother and I used to hang over the tunnel, and once he got a player's chin strap. Now I'm a dad, and I saw my 8- and 5-year-old boys hanging over the tunnel, slapping hands and grabbing gear. That made it come full circle for me."
"It's kind of bittersweet for me. It was the place where I became a man. It helped me develop my inner toughness, my ability to deal with adversity. I had some really good times, and I also had some very bitter times in that stadium. I was 18 years old, and I experienced 60,000 people booing me. You never forget that. It ended up being a place I enjoyed playing, but those are scars you'll always have with you."
Running back 1949-1951
"It wasn't much to look at back then. It was a wooden stadium. The crown, for drainage, was so high in the center that if you went on an end sweep, you could make a cut and your right leg would just catch air. You'd fall. A few times it was very embarrassing."
"That's where I became a man. I was on my own for the first time and I learned discipline and hard work from our great coaches, lessons that carried me through 15 years in the NFL."
"For me, the two most significant attributes of Husky Stadium are: 1) The physical setting. ... Husky Stadium is unequaled. 2) The decibels. Our rain leads to a high percentage of covered seats. Where there is covering there is amplified noise."
Kicker, 1980-1982, and former color commentator
"I remember driving over the Ship Canal Bridge growing up and looking over at the stadium. I never dreamed I'd get to play in there. It was a dream come true for me. My father was a UW alum, and the Huskies were always the pinnacle of college football at our house."
Longtime academic adviser
"I have brought so many prospective kids through that tunnel, and you get goose pimples every time. ... I was their mom. I'm their grandma now."
"Back when I played, the stadium was almost like going to church on a Sunday. It's almost like it's part of your soul. It's part of who you are."
Seattle Times reporter, 1971-1992
"Covering Husky football for more than 20 years was the source for much drama, including comeback wins by teams, remarkable accomplishments by players and 'impossible' deadlines as a reporter. Because the venue for it all was Husky Stadium, it is a structure that, to me — and generations of UW fans — is as iconic as Mount Rainier and the Space Needle."
"From the anticipation of sprinting with the team onto the field, to dancing to the band's songs on third down, to hearing the roar of the crowd after a touchdown when the siren goes off, to riding on the helmet car ... there's no place like Husky Stadium."
Play-by-play announcer, 1978-present
"It's the studio in which I've tried to practice my craft. It's a place where there's an original inspiration every game for a well-painted word picture. On a really clear, fall day, it's always special. It captures the essence of the Pacific Northwest and beauty of this place we live."
(Visiting BYU player, USC coach)
"It's an intimidating place to play, obviously. The jaws, the overhang in the stadium. It's so massive."
"That's our home, our field. I think of Jim Owens, our mentor. ... Husky Stadium to me is defense, and it's about team and about winning."
"I used to go out and run a lap around the track. I'd look up into the stands and I could almost hear the fans cheering. I'd think, 'Wow, this is where it all happened.' I'd remember a touchdown, a punt return, a fumble. I can still see it today."
"Other places were as loud, other places had a great atmosphere, but Washington was one of those places that put it all together. It was just a great venue for sports."
Running back, 1976-1979
"It is a place where success is worked for, respect is earned, life lessons are learned, dreams are achieved and shattered. ... The best possible home to play college football in the greatest city in the country."
"Husky Stadium has been a genesis of athletics at the UW."
"With those iconic overhangs, it seems like it's coming down on top of you, and for opponents, it must seem like it's about to devour them. ... It literally feels like an earthquake's going on. The whole place is shaking. It's a scary place for an opponent."
Wide receiver, 1979-1982
"I remember just how loud that place was when I played. That place was rockin'. My son (Kasen Williams, freshman receiver) hasn't experienced it like we did, but I hope he does. And I'm pretty sure he will."
WSU head coach, 1978-1986
"Look at it! Those two decks from a distance look like two ducks facing each other with their bills open. Come on, you're Huskies! You don't want to look like ducks! Cover those damn things up or take 'em down!"
Yell leader, 1969-1972
"The sound dynamics have always been phenomenal. It was scary how loud you could make that stadium. I had this incredible power to make a crowd do anything I wanted it to do."
Athletic director, 2008-present
"Like any home, what makes Husky Stadium special is memories made with the family who has occupied it. My favorite moments in the stadium have been seeing and helping student-athletes dedicate themselves, persevere, succeed and mature — similar to watching your own children grow up. Memories like Jake's touchdown run during a 30-0 2009 Apple Cup victory, or Chris Polk reaching 100 yards in both rushing and receiving against Arizona are a part of this building and will always be cherished."
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