By｜Keaundrey Clark & Skye Kimya
Through trials and tribulations, Humboldt State football will be playing another year in the Redwood Bowl, as was announced by President Lisa Rossbacher and Interim Athletic Director Duncan Robbins on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
In front of HSU students, athletes, boosters, administration and coaches, it was announced that the team will return after months of doubt by Rossbacher.
“Through a lot of work by the boosters and the community,” said Rossbacher. “Alumni generating pledges for support make this possible for next year. “
President Rossbacher said she was impressed by the passionate group of boosters who led a recent fund drive. This convinced her they could bring in the resources needed to help continue the football program.
Six months of doubt have been put to bed for now, as boosters led by Jim Redd and Ceva Courtemanche worked endlessly to provide a solution to HSU Athletics financial woes. Redd and SaveHSUAthletics were able to confirm that almost $511 thousand in pledges and donations for 2017-18 has been reached.
“Not all of this is local community, there are previous athletes from all over the United States that have donated,” said Redd. “People that have just heard about our cause that have donated. It just speaks volumes, that athletics and the student athletes are very important to this community.”
The future of Jacks football, which is the University’s most expensive athletics program, had been in question due to financial challenges.
The Athletics Department, Office of Advancement and the boosters struggled to maintain a balanced and working relationship to find a solution to the department’s financial woes. In terms of balancing the budget, the University is working to address an ongoing structural deficit that has been on Rossbacher’s plate for a few years now.
With an additional $395 thousand for year two, $375 thousand for year three, $355 thousand for year four and $335 thousand for the fifth year, the community of Humboldt showed how much HSU football means to them.
“We never gave up,”said Redd. “We kept fighting until the very end and the community support is absolutely unbelievable.”
Several players walked away from the Redwood Bowl Plaza this afternoon with plenty of appreciation for their community and Rossbacher.
“It feels great, it feels like I got a lot of relief off of my shoulders. Now I can get ready and focus for next season,” said returning player Jamere Austin.
Plenty of players have been worried about where they would have headed next, but they are looking forward to continuing in their first step foward after today’s decision – Spring Ball.
“President Rossbacher made the right decision,” said returning player Joey Sweeney. “Next year should be a really good year.”
Head Coach Rob Smith held a meeting with players, urging them to notify their families that the team will be back. He understands that because of the uncertainty surrounding the program some players won’t return. But he hopes players will stay and be a Jack for life.
“Most coaches and most players had kind of checked out, they saw the writing on the wall, anticipated the program not being here next year and were preparing for life after this,” said Smith. “Now we all kind of need to get together and figure out how to move forward.”
One of HSU’s best defenders, junior linebacker Curtis Williams, is excited for the prospects of a great season next year.
“It feels great,” said Williams. “Knowing we have another season is a great feeling.”
Humboldt State has been playing football for decades. The prospect of losing the team is something the players, coaches, school and community couldn’t face. Head Coach Rob Smith has his work cut out for him next season.
“Coaches will come and go, Presidents will come and go, but this team belongs to Humboldt State,” said Smith