Local college football fanatics on what they'll do this fall instead of watching their favorite teams

click to enlarge LEFT TO RIGHT: Kristine Johnson, Kelsey Hatch-Brecek, Marten Hiemstra, Matt Mitchell. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTOS
Young Kwak photos
LEFT TO RIGHT: Kristine Johnson, Kelsey Hatch-Brecek, Marten Hiemstra, Matt Mitchell.

What a difference a year makes. A year ago we profiled a "superfan" for each of our local college football teams: Washington State, Idaho, Eastern Washington and Whitworth. We talked to them about their gameday traditions, their thoughts on the upcoming season, their families and their tailgate party cuisine. For each of them, fall was a months-long celebration built around football.

This year, they all suddenly have a lot of time on their hands on Saturday afternoons, after the conferences for all four teams decided to postpone their respective seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's a smart and safe move by the Pac-12, Big Sky and Northwest Conferences, and not one that every conference in the country is making — yet.

If things go according to plan, the Cougars, Vandals, Eagles and Pirates will play football in the spring of 2021. Of course, planning is folly at this point of the pandemic, but we can always hope. We checked in with our superfans to get their reactions to this unusual fall and the lack of college football. Find their responses below:

Kelsey Hatch-Brecek
EWU fan
Despite knowing for a while that the season proceeding this fall was highly unlikely, I was still holding onto hope and am incredibly distraught, now. It was obviously the right call to make, but still feel so bummed out, very numb about it.

It especially feels different right now. This time of year is typically spent by attending the in-person scrimmages, standing in line at the "Meet the Eags" signing day opportunity, spending wayyyy too much money on new EWU gear at the Eagle Store (sorry it will always be the Bookstore to me) and finalizing travel plans wherever the Eags were opening the season. My fall is typically consumed by EWU football and everything else just simply... follows. This will be a fall like no other, so I am not sure what I will do with the time. Probably should send some positive vibes to my husband, son, close friends and family... I can't imagine I'll be a blast to be around. I think it would be fun to organize some type of social-distancing tailgate on the suppose-to-be game days, maybe show some old games, eat some great food and get to socialize with our tailgate families. I'm not sure that is the best idea with our current county restrictions, however.

I am hopeful the spring season will go on, and fans will be allowed in the stands to some capacity. I know it won't be the same, but it would be better than nothing, and by that time, it will be something we will all be looking forward to, too. The last time I saw anything in person regarding EWU was basketball. We even had flown into Boise the morning the Big Sky basketball tournament was canceled, so I am REALLY missing EWU athletics right now.

Matt Mitchell
WSU fan
After the first half of 2020, I was sort of numb to any emotional reaction surrounding fall college sports. As much of a fan as I am, I do think there are more important things in life... like keeping people alive. My wife and I moved into a bus in January and have been traveling from Baja to the PNW and everywhere in between ever since. We mostly just visit gas stations and grocery stores and keep to the woods. It's been interesting to see how different communities are handling (or not handling) COVID-19. We've been shamed for wearing masks and we've also been accused of recklessly traveling during a pandemic. I think we would all be better off admitting none of us have the answers and we should just exercise some humility and caution. Football is a distraction that we could use this fall, but football is also just a game. A global pandemic is not.

Marten Hiemstra
Idaho fan
When I heard that the Big Sky Conference was delaying football until the spring I took the news like I did when the NCAA Basketball Tournament was delayed. I was sad in having the season delayed, not being able to watch and cheer on Idaho football and the marching band with my friends, but I understood that it was done for a good reason: The safety and well-being of the players.

What do I plan to do this fall? Rewatch some old Vandal football games if they're on TV or YouTube. Also watch old Idaho Vandal marching band shows, too. I'm also trying to be more consistent in working out. I also have been playing video games with friends to keep in touch with them... and trying to help out more with the Tubs At the Club [Vandals] podcast with interviews for listeners during this fall season.

Kristine Johnson
Whitworth fan
This fall is definitely different for us this year. I would consider this COVID year without fall sports a blessing in disguise. My husband and I welcomed our first child on Aug. 11! At first, when we found out that we were pregnant and when our due date was, I was thinking, "Oh man. Right in the middle of pre-season camp. Looks like it will be a VERY busy fall for us!" [Johnson's husband is running backs coach for Whitworth.] I was excited to bring her around the team and take her to games for sure. Then COVID hit. It is such a weird time to be pregnant and have a newborn. But I can't say that I am at all upset that there is no football. My husband is not only home in the evenings now, but he is also working from home for his "day job" and is home all the time. I am able to take a few months off from work as well, and it has been such a blessing to be able to be home together with our daughter. It definitely has made this life transition easier for the two of us. So, in a nutshell, I am sad for the players, especially those seniors, that they do not get to have their typical fall season. But, slightly selfishly, it could not have come at a better time for our family. Come spring, I am hoping that we will be able to enjoy a football season to some degree. By then our daughter will be older and even more fun to take to games and cheer on the Pirates! ♦

Marie Lu: Skyhunter

Thu., Oct. 1, 6-7 p.m.
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About The Author

Dan Nailen

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine, The Oregonian and KUER-FM. He grew up seeing the country in an Air Force family and studied...