Mrs. Falk: Parents never doubted these Cougs

ANALEE FALK will make an announcement Saturday evening at Martin Stadium just before Washington State kicks off against No. 10 Stanford. Like she does at every game, she’ll stand up and let everyone sitting nearby know that her son is the quarterback of the Cougars, so if they’re compelled to say anything critical during the game she would appreciate if they please do so quietly.

“Hey, I’m Luke Falk’s mom. I just wanted you to know I’m here and with my personality, I’ll probably fire right back if you say something I don’t like,” she chuckles, recounting her weekly ritual.

The idea came to her in the offseason, as she reflected on moments last year in losses to Arizona State and Washington when boo birds filled the air.

She was ill the week of this season's opener, a shocking pratfall against FCS Portland State, and didn't attend the game. “Maybe it was a good thing I wasn’t there,” she says, noting that she hasn’t had a single unpleasant moment in the stands in the six games she has attended.

It no doubt helps that the Cougars are 5-1 in those contests and a play or two away at Cal from being 6-0 in that stretch, but facts are facts, she says, when it comes to the crimson faithful.

“I love Washington State fans,” she said. “It’s such a family atmosphere. People are so nice.”

She’s expecting the Cougar family to be at its vocal best Saturday, when the 5-2 Cougs — double-digit underdogs for the fourth time in five weeks — play for the lead in the Pac-12 North against the 6-1 Card.

While oddsmakers are doubting the Cougars, there is one group of people who have never wavered in their belief in the team, says Analee. “We parents knew in our hearts that this was the team they were going to be. Last season was disappointing and the Portland State loss was disheartening, but through the ups and downs the energy among parents never wavered. We’ve always believed they would turn the corner,” she says.

“We all knew this team was going to break through, this team was going to shock people. Now the players know ‘we can win — and we can win in tight situations’” she says.

Gabe Marks’ mom, Jordana, Cole Madison’s mom, Marianne. Analee fires off the names of fellow parents.

Tracy Cracraft … Chrisi Dotson … Kim Pelluer ...“Dads too, many others … I really love the parents and their support for the team. Parents, players, fans, coaches — together, we are a can-do nation. It’s a complete team effort.”

As for the success her son is having, she says the last three weeks — in which the Cougars have scored more points than in any three-week period in modern history — “solidified everything I knew Luke and the entire team could do.

“They’re showing everyone what all the parents knew could be: We can beat anybody.”

In 10 career starts, Luke has been named Pac-12 offensive player of the week three times, among other honors. For Analee, that success is made all the sweeter by the winding road it took to get here.

She still gets a pit in her stomach reflecting on the family’s ill-fated — and short-lived — move from Utah to California that wound up torpedoing Luke’s high school junior season and wiped out his chances for an FBS scholarship.

“We (she and husband Mike) kind of blew it Luke’s junior year,” she says. “It was a bitter process to go through.

“As a walk on, you have to work so hard to prove yourself. But he always knew in his heart he was supposed to be a Division I player.”

His work on the field is gratifying to watch, she says, but she’s equally impressed with the way he’s befriended new kids in the program and his habit of saluting WSU’s offensive line, receivers and running backs for the offense’s success.

“I’m a really proud of him if you can’t tell,” she says.

And if anyone in the stands ever wants to challenge her on that, well, you’ve been warned.


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