Camp Follower: The Cheney Diaries, Part One

Now that the Seahawks have announced their 2006 Training Camp schedule, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at the infamous Seahawks.NET Caravan to Cheney, as it rolled across our fair state in August of 2005. In the first of a three-part series, Doug Farrar recalls his lost weekend near the Palouse Prairie.

In the fine tradition of Jack Kerouac, Charles Kuralt and Thelma & Louise, Seahawks.NET’s Doug Farrar recently embarked on a road trip. Such journeys can be catalysts for personal introspection…if you’re someone else. Nah! Doug was on a mission to Cheney, Washington, home of the Seahawks’ 2005 Training camp. After three days of total football immersion, unchecked “refreshment” and two unexpected vocal performances, he somehow had enough left in the tank to report the experience of a weekend in Cheney with some prime representatives of the Seahawks.NET community.

So…there was this thing called Training Camp. A chance to drown in football for three days, hook up with some old friends, and meet some people I only knew from their posts in the Fan Forum, or the amazing articles submitted to Seahawks.NET.

I was pumped. I was ready. And I was about to embark on a trip that exceeded my expectations.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

Highway Star
Thursday, August 5

The BredaMobile, owned by .NET Guru, Webmaster, and good buddy Todd Breda, arrived at the Bellevue compound early at 4:15 pm, which meant that Editor Doug was pushing the clock, swearing a lot, and rolling his golf clubs down the stairs. After a few minutes of THAT attendant comedy, we were ready to go.

Road trips are either very cool, or extremely disastrous. There is no in-between when you’re in a small rolling metal box with another human soul for a predetermined amount of time. Fortunately for me, Todd is a very easy guy to “roll with”…and fortunately for Todd, I was able to sequester most of my obnoxious tendencies (no doubt Todd will read that statement and throw a red flag!) Good times and great tunes – he and I are both former musicians turned football internet geeks, and it was interesting to listen to our respective CDs from almost a decade ago (Todd’s old band, “Breda”, and my digital studio projects from my “bomb-shelter guitar-dork” days) and ruminate on the idea that if you had told either one of us that we’d be running a football site back then, we’d have gladly accepted a good portion of whatever you were smoking.

We arrived at the Super 8 in Spokane at about 9:00 PM (yep, that’s the high life!), and after checking in, it was up to the room of The Hawkstorian for a few hours of hardcore football talk. We three were joined by .NET Columnists Steve (“Did you say YOOTS?”) Utz and Mark (rockhawkx) Olsen, who were staying in the same hotel. From what I’ve heard, the Super 8 was a definite upgrade over .NET’s previous Cheney Compound, the Bates…er, I mean…Willows Motel. While the 3 a.m. trains right outside the window would have been a nice touch, this was probably the better call.

Back to the room at about midnight, as we all get geeked for our first look at 2005 practice.

“Badges? We don’t NEED no stinking BADGES!!!”
Friday, August 6th

This being my first Cheney experience, I heard from a lot of folks that this camp was quite a bit more “cordoned off” than in the past. Personally, I was in Hog Heaven when we arrived at the Eastern Washington University fields for the Friday Morning practice. All I knew was that I had my “pseudo-reporter small notebook” ready, and I had Seahawks warming up ten feet away from me in many instances. Access or not, you really gain an insight into the way a team works. Any hardcore fan of the game needs to attend a training camp. If you’re a part of the.NET community and you live across the country, just get yourself to a camp somewhere. Trust me.

Before I go any further, I have to extend my most extreme thanks to Scott Eklund, columnist and “can-do” guy for both Seahawks.NET and Scott was back in Seattle while we were having fun, and he took on the responsibility of transcribing my coffee-deprived chicken scratchings via mobile phone. That he was able to put together such stellar reports from such nonsensical doodlings is a testament to his acumen and determination…not to mention infinite, saint-like patience. I’m inclined to defer to his camp reports and give you general impressions of the .NET “socialization” in this article.

Scott’s Friday Morning report:

Big ups as well to Mark Olsen, who was good enough to hang around my general area, see some things I didn’t see, and occasionally whack me upside the head and say, “Hey! Write this down!” Brotherman probably should have received a byline somewhere in the weekend…hopefully, this will suffice.

After Friday morning practice, it was off to the Sawtooth Grill in Spokane (and a nod to Mr. Sando’s blog recommendation of this fine eatery). Myself, Todd, Les “PithyRadish” Norton, Steve, Mark, Hawkstorian and Ben “THE TABS” Tabler enjoyed a great meal, excellent conversation, and Strawberry Lemonade that could become the next nicotine.

We somehow got it into our heads that the afternoon drills were at 2:45 instead of 2:00, so Todd and I arrived at 2:35 to see practice in session. Ack! This practice was special teams only, but it was worth sticking around to watch new special teams coach Bob Casullo take the specialists and gunners through their paces HIS way. Casullo was my most prominent impression of the entire weekend – the vibe was pure Lombardi, and I admit to goosebumps as he prepared the kids for every possible scenario. There are no wandering eyes or limited attention spans when coach Casullo is teaching – when that blast furnace voice cuts the air, you are focused. That’s how I felt, so I can only imagine the impact he’s making on the players. If Seattle’s special teams, completely anemic since Pete Rodriguez’ defection to Jacksonville, isn’t improved this season about 10,000 percent, I’ll be shocked.

Put it this way – you could throw two hours of Casullo’s coaching on a DVD, charge $20 for it, and I’d buy it immediately. And I’d subsequently injure myself trying to tackle something (or someone!)

No report for the afternoon practice, but that Casullo guy…WHOA.

Time then to chill in our rooms for a couple hours, as we were expected at the lovely home of Les and Darlene Norton at 6:00 PM sharp! We had heard of an alcoholic invention known as “Kick-a-Poo”, and Les had made a good five gallons of the vile stuff. Apparently, the idea behind “Kick-a-Poo” is to put on a blindfold, grab the first seven bottles out of your liquor cabinet, empty then into a sturdy container, add Prestone and diesel fuel to taste, and hope for the best.

Les “Barbecue God” Norton.

I kid, Les…I kid! The concoction actually tasted pretty good, although you could definitely feel your internal organs dissolving after one 6-ounce glass. For the rest of the evening, I stuck to more recognizable beverages, while enjoying the efforts of Barbecue Master Les. Adding to the festivities was the welcome presence of the Nortons’ three mini-Dobermans – Malcolm, Princess and Bambi.

”I should write for Seahawks.NET. I’d show that boneheaded editor the way it is!”

One thing you should know about Les and Darlene is that these two gracious people are very active in dog rescue organizations, in which they take animals into their homes to save them from fates I find difficult to discuss. I have always been an animal lover, and I don’t do well with the sight of any creature’s suffering. What grips my heart is those people who take the time to insure that animals have better lives. We drank a heartfelt toast to Selene, the late min-pin who set herself apart despite near-blindness and medical problems that would have destroyed the souls of most. Not Selene, who was courageous to the end.

ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters: Lobotomy Edition!”

Just about all the reprobates who were at the Sawtooth attended Les’ party, with the notable addition of .NET columnist Ryan Rigmaiden. Ryan impressed everyone with his ability to detail the shoe size and blood type of Billy Dan Jerky, the seventh-string long snapper from Ferret State Vocational Institute. Outside of’s Rob Rang, I’ve never met anyone who can go on about the college game like Ryan. And it’s way past time to bring Johnny “Hawkboi” Mac and his wife Trish into this story – you’ll see Johnny and Trish at the far left of the above picture. Two of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet.

As enjoyable as this soirée was, we knew that “’Round Midnight” was our cattle call back to the Super 8. Some of us had an early date with the game of golf…in which we would grab “The Auld Game” by its scrawny neck and make it wish it had never been birthed.

Or was it the other way around?

Stay tuned for parts two and three of the Cheney Diaries, to be published this weekend.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him here. Top Stories