Twitter/Cracraft

Mama Cracraft: Receiver River Cracraft's mom is also den mother to WSU's Twitter Nation

BACK AT THE dawn of the internet and Cougfan.com, Steve Gleason's mom, Gail, was the voice-of-reason-den-mother on the message boards. In this Twitter Age, that role for the Cougar Nation is filled by Tracy Cracraft (a.k.a. @MamaCracraft). Standout Washington State wideout River Cracraft and former Cougar safety Skyler Cracraft are two of her three biological children, but in the Twittersphere she's the parent to nearly 1,000 followers. And the author of more than 10,000 tweets.

It's perhaps no surprise that she and Gail Gleason are friends.

Here's another interesting fact about Tracy: she and her husband are both named Tracy. Wild guess here, but have to think "Which one?" is uttered over their home phone line more than any in the nation.

But that's not even the best name story in the family. How River was given the name River is downright cool (more on that later).

As for the world of social media, Mama Cracraft fires up tweets and retweets on all kinds of Cougar news, with football being just part of the crimson blanket she weaves. You'll find birthday wishes to Kirk Schulz, a lot of pride in Klay Thompson (who is not just a Coug but, like her kids, a Santa Margarita Catholic High product), and even a Mom's Weekend photo with parents and players hoisting brews at The Coug.

On the phone, she comes across as funny and a great storyteller.

But Mama Cracraft is best captured in her own words ...

Cougfan.com: Have you been able to meet the new inside receivers coach, JaMarcus Shephard?

Mama Cracraft: I went up for Mom’s Weekend and met him and gave him all kinds of (grief) for wearing a purple shirt. Not sure what he was thinking but he went and changed promptly (laugh). He’s a super nice guy -- young, has a super amount of energy, a big smile. He loves the kids. I got to talk to him a little bit that weekend and I also went to the spring game. I think he’s a really good fit.

Cougfan.com: How many games, home and away, have you been to since River arrived at WSU three years ago?

Mama Cracraft: I’ve been to every home game since he started at WSU except for two, and I’ve been to every single away game.

Cougfan.com: Talk about how you became so engaged with Cougar fans on Twitter?

Mama Cracraft: When River committed to Washington State and I was learning about Washington State, I went on Twitter and Cougfan was one of the first sites I jumped on. And Braulio Perez (CF.C correspondent) was on the plane for River’s official visit … we met him and he was the person I started following when I got on Twitter… that’s how it all started.

Cougfan.com: Do people walk up to you at games to say hello like they're an old friend simply because of your Twitter presence?

Mama Cracraft: They do, it’s so funny. It’s awesome.

Cougfan.com: What’s your background, where did you grow up, where did you go to school?

Mama Cracraft: I’m from Ridgecrest, California, out in the Mojave desert. I went to the University of Arkansas … after I got married and had my second child, Skyler, my husband got transferred to Arkansas and I said this would be the perfect time to finish up my degree. Two years later, when I was pregnant with River, we moved back to California, four credits short of my graduating, and that’s where it stands (laughs).

Cougfan.com: Our sense is that you have a very knowledgeable football mind. Did that start with your kids playing ball or does it go way back?

Mama Cracraft: I never even (really) watched football games until River and Sky started. My first year, my whole goal was to show up to games and just find my child. The next year, it was to pay attention to what his position is.  And I am not that knowledgeable about football, believe me. I watch a lot of games and I have a lot of opinions but it’s probably not based on anything that would make sense to someone who really knows football (laughs).

Cougfan.com: Do you follow the ball, like many fans do, or do you focus in on River in the slot? 

Mama Cracraft: It’s a combination. I probably watch the ball first, then look for him, then look back to the ball. I probably never see what’s happening with the line half the time.

Cougfan.com: River and Skyler are unusual names, how did that come about?

Mama Cracraft: With Skyler, my husband had that name picked out for a long time… and when I was pregnant with River I thought, I like these nature names. I had another name picked out for him that he didn’t end up getting: Lincoln. But River is actually named after my dad. My dad’s name is Clyde, he was born in Glasgow, Scotland. There is a big river that runs through Glasgow and it’s called the River Clyde. So we always knew Clyde was going to be River’s middle name and coming up with a first name, we thought, well, River, that would be perfect.

Cougfan.com: The physical toll football can take on a body and head is gaining more attention and concern each year. Talk about it from the standpoint of a parent. Have you had discussions with your boys about it?

Mama Cracraft: Oh yeah, definitely. Concussions are a really scary topic but I think it goes beyond concussions. They play at such a high level at Washington State, it’s so (high stress) and they don’t get a lot of down time… so if there’s a problem is it mental, is it physical or is it a combination of both… I do feel like things have progressed, they have really good helmets now and I feel totally safe -- I’m not fearful when River goes on the field. I feel they have really good gear and that he’s well prepared, I don’t live in fear of any of that stuff and he doesn’t either.

Cougfan.com: Do you have game-day rituals or superstitions?

Mama Cracraft: If it’s a night game I really try to relax a lot during the day – I don’t want to get started partying at 11 in the morning (laughs). I can’t do that. So I’ll usually wait until 2-3 hours before the game starts. My husband always goes in one hour before, to watch the warm ups – always. I kind of trail in.

Cougfan.com: Talk about your impressions of Mike Leach, and any off topics he roamed into when he and area recruiter Jim Mastro came to your house for the recruiting home visit with River?

Mama Cracraft: Coach Mastro told me to invite extra people. He said Leach is always best with a large group. And I said, what are you talking about, who am I supposed to bring (laughs).  So we had about 12 people (over). We’re all sitting around the table, and Leach just kind of looked around and he literally said, ‘Who are all these people?’ … I love Mastro. But I did say to him, ‘James, why did you ask me to do that?!’  He’s so funny.

Cougfan.com: How difficult were the first two years after River got there, when WSU wasn’t winning and some fans were grumbling in the stands?

Mama Cracraft: Even before that, after River committed, that 2012 season the Cougs did poorly and people kept asking us, if River gets another offer is he going to go to a better school, is he still looking?  We just kept saying no, he’s committed and he’s not looking anywhere else.  (Before River arrived to WSU) two of the guys from his high school team (Dane Crane and Connor O’Brien) were about to go to Washington and they invited us over for the Apple Cup. And the Cougs won, with Andrew Furney with the kick and everything and we were like, ‘Oh yeah!’ Redemption! That was awesome.

Cougfan.com: Last year must have been fun, with the Cougs going 9-4.

Mama Cracraft: I promote the Cougs a lot and everyone knows what a great experience we’re having. And we’ve had it since the start.  Some of my friends, they’ve wanted their sons to transfer, to be a Coug. It’s just been amazing and River has been so lucky … we’re so happy. We knew we made the right decision in the beginning when those people were doubting and last year just confirmed it. And this year is going to be even better. We’re going to go all the way.

Cougfan.com: By this time next year River will have graduated and moving on, have you thought about how you’re going to fill the time on the weekends in the fall?

Mama Cracraft: Yeah, watching him in the NFL! That’s the plan. Sky and River are both scheduled to graduate on Dec. 10 of this year. But I’m going to be so sad on Senior Night, when they leave.

Cougfan.com: You helped start up an organization that gives the parents of incoming Cougar athletes a road map - giving them information right off the bat that you discovered and gleaned along the way. Talk a little about that.

Mama C:  We started CougFam last year. Jill Osur, she’s Noah’s mom, he and his mom ended up at River’s house and I got to know her. So I told her you need to go to the spring game and you need to do this, and do that. She had me to tell her all these things. So it was her idea, she thought of it, to make sure that everybody who is coming in have a Coug football family – that they have a place to go and to get to know everybody, know where everybody is staying and tailgating and things like that. She asked me all of the questions on the things I had to figure out for myself and we just kind of put it together and it’s this thing called CougFam. She presented it to Bill Moos and he loved the idea. I love the idea that we can welcome people in even before their kids get to Washington State… Even IMG was saying that other schools don’t have this and IMG actually sponsors our private tent that we do (on game days). And everyone who is part of it is part of the Cougar Athletic Fund. It gets people to give back. When we move on, we’re going to continue to be members of CougFam, that’s going to be our tie.

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