Westra was born in Indiana but moved to Mesa, Arizona, when we was about 5 or 6 years old, and lived there until starting his football career with the Dawgs. He used up all of his allotted tickets to the ASU game on his immediate family, and was hoping he could cram some old friends into the stadium as well. The fact that Westra was chosen as Honorary Team Captain for the ASU game was just icing on the cake.
It was a good week.
John was a highly recruited tight end coming out of high school, with most of the schools in the West showing interest in him. "Washington had a great tight end tradition and the year that I was being recruited was the year that Arizona State went to the Rose Bowl, and I wanted to go to the Rose Bowl. I thought that my best opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl the next year would be with Washington. We ended up going to the Aloha Bowl, but we got to the Rose Bowl a couple of years later. So, it worked out," said Westra.
Westra played as a true freshman in 1997, reinforcing that his decision to leave home for Washington was a good move. All was going well until the Air Force game in 1999, John's junior season. "I tore my ACL, MCL, and some cartilage. I had my ACL reconstructed," recalled Westra, who wound up taking a medical redshirt for that injury.
He is now a senior and life couldn't be better for the English major. "I am married (to Haley) and have a daughter (Taylor) who just turned one on September 2nd. My wife is a cheerleader for the Seahawks, this will be her second year doing that. My roommate is Joe Collier," said Westra.
"(Collier's) quite a guy. He tore his MCL when I tore my ACL. So, we did rehab together and became pretty good friends ever since. Joe is a nice guy, easy to get along with. He's a little different, has strange eating habits. He likes his junk food, doesn't like onions, doesn't like olives, and doesn't like a whole bunch of things that are good. It's real convenient for being an athlete and having a wife and daughter because he drives to school and I ride with him, so my wife can keep the car with her. Joe is just a good ‘ole guy. He is fun-loving, good hearted, just a good guy."
Collier, as luck would have it, possesses a few culinary skills as well.
"Joe is definitely the cook. He is a great cook. We can barbecue together but, other than that, he pretty much cooks everything. Or, my wife will give it a shot," admitted Westra.
Oh, so that's why you keep him around? "Yah, definitely!"
John is very apprehensive in admitting that Joe might know his way around the kitchen a little better than his wife, however.
"She has a few things that she can cook but, in general, Joe can cook pretty much anything. He always has his girlfriend over for dinner so he is always trying to make something good. So, I luck out. He is definitely trying to impress her with his cooking. Joe likes girls. Joe's life is definitely influenced by females."
For any guys out there who are wondering how in the heck to land a future NFL cheerleader, just remember, all you have to do is ask. It worked for Westra.
"She was my high-school crush, but she didn't know I existed. And so my senior year, I decided that right after I graduated that I might as well ask her on a few dates just to give her the shot. It ended up working and we decided to do the long-distance thing for awhile," revealed John.
"Then she graduated from high school, she was a year behind me. She then danced in Japan – not exotic – but jazz, tap, ballet and stuff like that. Then decided to move to Seattle. I got engaged to her at Snoqualmie Falls and then we got pregnant, and finally ended up getting married. We did it all out of order."
John is now balancing his school load with football and being a father. "I love having a daughter. No matter what happens in school, what happens at practice, and what happens anywhere, you come home and she doesn't care," he said. "She is a riot. She's my first daughter and, hopefully, one of many. I love her to death. It's great. It works out perfectly because my wife stays home during the day and she has practice at nights. When I come home, we switch. I take our daughter and my wife goes to cheerleading practice."
Taylor sounds fairly easy to handle now, and dad thinks he has a pretty good idea of how the dating years will be handled. "When she is about 26, she will start dating. We will worry about that then. She will be graduated from college and a few other things before she starts dating," said Westra.
Just in case the dating years start a little earlier than dad had planned, he will go to Plan B when the young suitors start coming around. "I will definitely use my influence as a former football player," said John with a devilish grin.
John's friends and teammates remain selfishly interested in the fact that John's wife is a Seahawks' Cheerleader. "All the guys on the team want me to hook them up and all the girls on her team want me to hook them up. I never end up doing it because I am too lazy and don't really care," laughed Westra.
Well, guys, I guess you are on your own.
Being married to a Sea-Gal also makes John appreciate the important things in life – a lot of food and free parking.
"She has events that she goes to and brings me along. She does parades and promotions for the Seahawks and I go with her. The good thing about parades is that there is always food. That's good! I also get to go to her games, when the Seahawks are home. I get special treatment – I get to drive right up to the stadium because I her use pass. I just love football, and with my wife being an NFL cheerleading, that's really cool."
With his Husky career winding down, John recalls his most memorable moments in the purple and the gold.
"As far as a game, it would probably be the Rose Bowl. That would be the same for most of the guys. In general, I would say listening to guys like Jamaun Willis and Willie Hurst just talking in the locker room," he said.
"They have to be the funniest guys I have ever heard in my life. I can sit there and listen to them for hours and not say a word. My favorite moments are being around those guys. There are a few more funny guys too. But, in general, listening to the guys in the locker room. It's hilarious, it's funnier than any TV show or anything I've ever seen. Those two are the biggest characters. When they go at each other, it is something to watch. It is really funny. They do anything to cut each other down. The sky is the limit."
After finishing his football career at Washington, John and his family plan on moving back to the Phoenix area where John wants to start a new life as a firefighter. How will John ever break the news to his wife that he plans on taking Collier and all of his Corning Ware with them?
John Westra: Living the Good Life
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