White-Frisbee on the art of Staying Focused

Hec Ed Pavilion was empty. It felt cavernous. We could hear our own footsteps as we walked across the gleaming hardwood floor that featured vivid purple accents. Amorphous white sunlight silently poured through the cathedral-like windows high above the south end of the court. I ambled alongside hobbled Husky defensive tackle Jordan White-Frisbee.

We joked lightly as we searched out a spot to do an interview. I promptly sat down and waited for him to ease his massive frame into the adjacent seat. I wanted to know two things; how his injury was progressing, and what he thought about Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham's request to switch him to offensive tackle next season.

"Actually I was predicted to come back last week," White-Frisbee said with a quiet voice. "But it's difficult to put 300+ pounds on your foot and have it withstand that kind of pressure. I was out there running the other day, for twelve minutes with the team. I thought I was about there. But it's still not where it needs to be."

I asked him how he injured it in the first place.

"We can get that cleared up," he said. "It was the week after the spring game. It was a product of a few weeks of playing on it and not knowing what it was. I was feeling some pain. Eventually they looked at it and said it was a pretty bad stress fracture that required some hardware. They told me I was going to be on crutches for awhile."

I asked him if he had played offensive line before in his high school days.

"Believe it or not, back in my slimmer days, I played tight end," he said. "And in my senior year, I played right tackle."

And how has it been for Jordan to rehab his injury and not be a full member of the team?

"I'm out there on the (practice) field with my teammates every day," he said. "I try to do what I can. I'm in the weight room all the time and I try to interact with them as much as possible. But there's only so much I can say to them, as I can't be out there fully practicing and playing in the games with them. But during rehab, all I did was bike. I was on the bike a lot. I might actually pursue a career in professional biking. I got pretty good at it."

Asked to imagine himself dressed in neon colors and peddling furiously through the French Alps, the hulking White–Frisbee laughed heartily.

"Yeah," he said. "I'll give Lance Armstrong a run for his money."

When I asked him to describe the play for which Husky fans identify him, he broke into a wide grin. It was that fourth-down goal-line tackle against UCLA last year that galvanized Husky Stadium into a full-on roar.

"That was the highlight of my year," he said. "I had been told I was going to play early as a freshman but hadn't played much. And against UCLA I didn't play in the first half at all. But then I think we had some injuries, so they threw me in there. It was pretty good timing on my part. I got pumped up. They handed off to the guy and I got in there and hit him hard. We stopped him…"

At this point of the interview, a gaggle of girls from the gymnastics team materialized out of nowhere and traipsed before us on their way to somewhere else. Their lovely figures undulated gracefully like felines, showcased in form-fitting black Lycra outfits. Their appeal was heightened further by the fact that they were barefoot and giggling amongst themselves.

Jordan fell silent for several seconds.

"Sorry, I was a little distracted," he said with a quiet chuckle. "I just wanted to get that out there. They were very good-looking. Put me on the record as saying that Jordan White-Frisbee is very supportive of the gymnastics and volleyball programs here at the U. I will be attending many of their meets."

After our laughter subsided, I asked Jordan how it came about that he will be switching to offensive tackle next season.

"What happened is that I went into coach Willingham's office about two weeks ago, to talk about whether I was going to red-shirt or not," he said. "After we made that decision, he had some business to talk about, as to whether I would consider being on the offensive line. He gave me some time to think about it. I know that he wouldn't ask me to do something that wouldn't benefit me, or be a good decision, so I decided to do it.

"I am going to stick with it and keep working hard," he said. "I mean to start as defensive lineman and move to offensive tackle, will definitely be different. But I need to stick with it and work hard and do what I can for the team. I take it as an opportunity. But at the same time, my heart is on defense. So I just need to take that intensity over to the O."

In conclusion, I asked him where he watched the Washington-UCLA game and what it was like not to be with the team.

"I watched the game from my house with a couple of buddies," he said with a sheepish look upon his face. "I was really excited the whole game, until two minutes left in the 4th quarter. When we lost the lead, I punched a hole in my living room wall. I didn't mean to, but I did it. I'll have to tell my landlord that I'm sorry. Maybe I will tell him sorry in this article. But it is being fixed as we speak.

"Anyway, Coach Willingham has us really focusing on playing harder in the fourth quarter than we have for the rest of the game," concluded White-Frisbee. "So I'm really anxious to see what we do against Oregon."

We stood up and shook hands. Then I kept one eye on the hulking White-Frisbee as he hobbled across the gleaming hardwood floor and receded into the hallway under the purple grandstands.

Derek Johnson can be reached at midnightjazz@msn.com

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