Humboldt State’s Alex Cappa (71) blocks for Ja’Quan Gardner (32) as he scores one of the final touchdowns during the 4th quarter of Central Washington University’s win of 42-28 at Redwood Bowl on Nov. 11th, 2017. | Photo by Deija Zavala

A Local’s Perspective on HSU Football

HSU football brought two communities together and now we're at a loss.
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HSU football brought two communities together and now we’re at a loss

In July of 2018, with most of the student population home for the summer, former Humboldt State President Lisa Rossbacher and former Athletic Director Duncan Robins made the announcement that the HSU football team would be cut following the conclusion of the 2018 season.

The efforts of many community members to raise money for the football program earlier in the year were seemingly for nothing. Many community members, including myself, were outraged about the decision to cut the football team, but some applauded the move, saying that a football program was unnecessary and a drain on academics. Either side you may be on, it was a polarizing move for the university to make.

I am part of the small percentage of HSU students that grew up in Humboldt County. In fact, I grew up right here in Arcata about a mile away from the HSU campus. I am as local as a local student can get. I spent a good portion of my life going to HSU football games and it became a significant source of pride that my small town had a Division II college football team. When I started attending HSU, this was not just my school’s football team, this was my hometown team as well.

When I transferred to HSU from College of the Redwoods, the first thing that caught me off guard about HSU was how separate it seemed from the rest of Arcata. Even though I was going to school in my hometown, HSU felt like a world of its own, far from the Arcata I grew up in. I felt that my identity as a native of Arcata and a student at HSU were two separate worlds, even though in a geographic sense I was in the same place.

HSU football games were one of the only times that these two worlds felt one and the same. The games became some of the only times where I saw both students and local community members in the same place, at the same time, rooting for the same team. People from Arcata and Los Angeles alike, all rooting for the Jacks.

It wasn’t just about the football team itself, but it was how football brought the entire community together. Getting rid of the football team felt like severing one of the last ties between the campus community and the local community.

The only good news I can gather from this is that the Redwood Bowl is actually seeing more football this season than when the HSU football team was active. My alma mater, College of the Redwoods will be playing their football games at the Redwood Bowl starting on October 5, and both Arcata High and McKinleyville High are playing their football games on campus as well.

I hope that someday HSU football will be brought back, but in the meantime, all of the other HSU athletes that are still here deserve our full support. Go Jacks!

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