Aug. 10, 2001
With only a few days remaining until practices begin at Camp Tontozona, theequipment has been packed, the team has vacated the Cardinals' locker room,and the players are enjoying our last week of vacation. Come Sunday, we willbe on the bus traveling towards Payson, Arizona and our pre-season facilityto begin preparation for the 2001 football season.
Maybe 'begin preparation' isn't the correct terminology. We began preparinglong before now. I know that my first workout took place the day after wegot home from Hawaii. That was December 27, 2000. Here we are in August 2001,and on the brink of a new season. One in which hardly anyone knows exactly whatto expect, but everyone knows what cannot happen. The days of .500 footballare, and must be, gone. Being a Sun Devil now means being accountable to winnow, not sometime soon. It means putting your heart and soul into everyplay, whether it's a non-padded practice, or a two-minute last-ditch effortto win the Rose Bowl.
No one feels the urgency to succeed as much as the seniors. For us it's thelast go around, with no more, 'We'll get `em next year's' to console us.This is the last time we will get ready for Camp, and the last time we getto have a hand in what Arizona State Football accomplishes. It's an honor tohave the opportunity to play major college football, and it is even more ofan honor to put on the maroon and gold, and fight it out in Sun DevilStadium every Saturday night.
There is something about being a senior that is impossible to harness beforeit's your turn. I remember in high school walking onto the field each day mysenior year in a different mindset than in previous years. A mindset withmore determination, more resilience, and more of an unwillingness to lose. Irecall thinking, 'God, it would've been amazing to be able to create thatdrive before I was a senior.' I promised myself that if I had theopportunity to play in college, that I would approach each game as if it were my last.Maybe it's human nature, but I have never found a way to create that senseof urgency at will. By the way, that phrase about the last game stuff isn'tactually mine. I borrowed it from a coach who always told my team, 'playeach game as if it were your last, because one day it's going to be.'Well for us, that one-day is here. There is no tomorrow during the season.It's do or die everyday for the seniors. Never again will we be able to playthe likes of UCLA, or Washington, or those pussycats down south. If youdon't leave it all on the field every weekend, that's a feeling you have to livewith for the rest of your life.
As we head up the hill for practice next weekend, I know in my heart thatit's the last time I get to do it. I dreaded two-a-days the previous twoyears of my ASU career, and I'm a punter! Imagine the guys that actuallyhave to run and hit and stuff. Now as a senior, I cherish each moment that comeswith being is such a unique situation with so many possibilities.
The dawn of a new season is priceless. There are so many prospects, and somuch to look forward to. Every team begins the season equal: 0-0.Determination is what can make the difference between 11-0 and 7-4. How harddid you work? Do you want it worse than the other guy does? I do.A team's character is always defined by it's leaders, and the seniors arethe leaders of the 2001 Sun Devils. We have been preparing for thischallenge our whole careers. Not just since the end of last season, and certainlylonger than the duration of pre-season camp. We have worked for the honor togo to war every Saturday, and to gain some respect for ASU and what we havehere in Tempe. We are prepared for that challenge, not just beginning to be.
Outside the Sun Devil family no one expects ASU to make much noise thisseason, that's not a secret. I would like to remind those people that theworld belongs to those who see its possibilities. The seniors can seethem... do you?
Nick can be reached via email at MurphysLaw84@aol.com.