It’s not unusual to see sailboats, yachts and different vessels collect on the calm, glassy water of Lake Washington hours earlier than a school soccer recreation at Husky Stadium.
Even then, this was a most peculiar sight.
Washington followers have made the distinctive pregame expertise of “sailgating” well-known and any given Saturday when their soccer crew is enjoying in Seattle, Huskies adorned in purple are identified to assert the physique of water generally known as Union Bay as their very own.
For at the very least one night time, although, a small however bold group of Washington State followers determined to launch a turf conflict. What may have been more strange than that: the Cougars weren’t even enjoying.
First noticed by a number of astute, binocular-equipped journalists within the mountain-high press field on the College of Washington, 4 Washington State alums who’re a part of the “Cougar Yacht Club” and a pal who’d pushed from New York stood on a ship docked on the shore of Husky Stadium and proudly waved Ol’ Crimson flags because the nationwide anthem performed.
Sure, one crew enjoying in Saturday’s recreation was carrying a shade of crimson on its uniforms, nevertheless it in fact was not WSU. Utah accepted a late invitation to play in Seattle simply days after the 113th Apple Cup was canceled because of the Cougars’ COVID-19 points and since the Utes’ unique opponent, Arizona State, needed to pull out for a similar causes.
As of proper now, an Apple Cup isn’t scheduled to occur in 2020, however 4 buddies who grew shut by way of their shared ardour of being on the water and rooting for the Cougars determined the absence of the rivalry recreation shouldn’t deter them from partaking in one in every of their most valuable traditions.
“We’re Apple Cupping it doesn’t matter what,” Nicole Rockfish, a 2011 WSU graduate, mentioned on the telephone Saturday night time as she and her buddies monitored Washington-Utah on TV from the chilly shores of Lake Washington.
Every time the Apple Cup is performed in Seattle, Rockfish, Charles Smith, Paul Twibell and Billy O’Brien like so as to add some crimson to the literal purple sea that types behind the east finish zone of Husky Stadium.
On Saturday, these 4 together with Matt Leach, a New York native who’s buddies with Rockfish, reunited for a ship tour on O’Brien’s 35-foot Carver Yacht which he’s nicknamed “Elation,” reasoning that “when you come on this boat, everyone’s in a state of happiness.”
The status held up on Saturday.
“It’s been really hard this year with the lack of our fall jobs that we covet and adore,” mentioned Rockstone, who works at Martin Stadium in a advertising and marketing and promoting function. Twibell remains to be concerned along with his alma mater as effectively, and takes pictures from the sideline of WSU dwelling video games. “And Apple Cup was one thing I used to be really trying ahead to after which I received the decision from Paul saying, hey Apple Cup’s canceled. I mentioned, you’ll be able to’t cancel the Coug spirit. You actually can’t.
“I called the rest of the yacht club and I said, we need to be seen, we need to go back to the stadium and I’ll putz over. My family thought it was crazy, but we’re very dedicated fans.”
In some unspecified time in the future within the first half, Twibell captured a photograph of Rockfish and O’Brien standing on the bow of boat with their palms clamped to steel flag poles every holding the long-lasting Ol’ Crimson flag. Within the backdrop, Seattle’s image orange sundown is seen casting a brilliant hue off the lake water, whereas the floodlights of Husky Stadium illuminate the sky on a virtually cloudless night time within the Puget Sound.
Seattle Occasions UW beat author Mike Vorel first shared the picture on social media and it shortly racked up retweets and likes – both from Cougar followers proud to see a crimson flag waving a few-hundred yards from their enemy’s doorstep or Husky followers who couldn’t resist the temptation of a fast jab.
Some who’ve seen the picture may be stunned to listen to that Twibell, who left his pro-grade Nikon cameras on his mattress at dwelling, shot the picture from his iPhone, touching it up with the Adobe Lightroom app.
“It was so funny because friends were like sending me the tweet and saying, is this you?” he mentioned. “… Everyone here’s just checking their phones like, ‘It’s blowing up, it’s blowing up!’”
Smith posted a handful of different images and movies from the tour to a Fb album titled “2020 We Didn’t Lose The Apple Cup Boat Journey” – a lighthearted dig at WSU’s seven-game shedding streak within the rivalry.
No, the Cougars didn’t lose the Apple Cup, and by all indications, the yacht membership didn’t lose Saturday’s turf conflict, or lake conflict. Frankly, the Huskies weren’t too fascinated by competing. Chilly climate mixed with the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to cut back the urge for food for being on the water, and the scene on Lake Washington reportedly wasn’t a lot totally different than the one inside empty Husky Stadium.
“We’re the only ones out here, the other boats that are here have no symbology or flags on them,” Rockfish mentioned. “It’s just Cougar flags out here right now on the marina.”
The group of buddies on O’Brien’s boat didn’t thoughts the cool temperatures and had been nonetheless capable of abide by King County well being and security orders by protecting their “social gathering” to simply 5.
“We don’t see a single Husky flag out here,” mentioned Twibell, who wore a Utah shirt Saturday night time. “… If Pullman had a bay like this in front of the stadium, it would just be full of boats whether we were allowed to be at the game or not.”
The yacht membership may have thought of the night time an ideal 10/10 had Utah staved off UW’s comeback and handed the Huskies their first loss, however a loud, collective groan came to visit the boat when Utes quarterback Jake Bentley threw the decisive interception late within the fourth quarter.
These specific WSU followers didn’t get the outcome they wished at Husky Stadium – a pattern that’s turn out to be all too acquainted over time – however, from the deck of a 35-foot yacht, they nonetheless salvaged some normalcy and custom from a yr that may finish with out the soccer recreation they treasure probably the most.
“Today was good, because we’ve all been so isolated from our friends and family,” Rockfish mentioned. “I’m glad we took this chance.”