Some insights from a decade and a half of watching, loosing to, rooting against, rooting for, being frustrated with, and yes even celebrating with the Lake Oswego football program.
It's not a place or a select group of folks. Nor is it something you have to be born into.
No rather this is a State if Mind and a way of life for the people in much of Lake Oswego, the small bucolic suburb of Portland, Oregon. Often labeled as a "Rich" neighborhood the reality is something different as people from all walks of life and scoio economic backgrounds can be found throughout the community.
Anyone who lives or spends time in trhe Western portion of the town near Lake Oswego High School surely is a part of the group. But you don't not have to be from there or anywhere special for that matter to be in the Family.
And anyone from anywhere that enjoys great football, hard work, and making the most of God given talent definitely belongs in the fold.
Because at Lake Oswego what we have come to know as "Laker Nation" is like a great grandmother with a plate of hot cookies and arms wide open. She is calling for you to come in and eat.
If you want in your welcome in.
And if you come in your in for a really great cookie.
Laker Nation is full of Parents and Teachers, Administrators and School staff, and Alumni and Family both near and far. Local merchants, police, and politicians are there too.
It's like a magnet this community thing. It is a feeling you get when you are sitting or standing among them. And if your watching closely it is a very real thing when you look around.
Every team and community has this to some extent. But boy the Lakers have it down to a science.
For the Football team it starts with the Coury Family. They are all Coaches and Players led by Legendary Father and Coach Dick Coury who coached at Mater Dei HIgh School, Notre Dame, USC, Cal State Fullerton, and at 10 professional footbal organizations. He is found along the sidelines every Friday Night providing support and brain trust for the kids and for his Son; Laker Head Coach Steve Coury.
Steve has quite a History of his own and has been "the guy" there at LO since 1992. He has led the team to 11 consecutive Quarter final appearances and finally got Laker Nation a State Title last season. One of Steve's sons is on the Coaching staff at LO and the Youngest (Stevie) is preparing to go to OSU in the Spring to begin his collegiate career.
He is playing the WR spot at the same place his Dad played.
The Coury crew may have come to town and martialed and developed the talent that was there by the Lake. But it has always been there as has this community of supporters.
Nothing will showcase "Laker Nation" more then when the top rated Lakers, now 8-0, head into the post season. Onlookers always are surprised when Police Escorts lead the kids and hundreds of cars through town and onto I-5 when the team heads to a playoff game.
Coach Jeff Young and his struggle to survive ALS has been much documented. And he is the very heart that is beating inside this proud community. No doubt he has driven these kids to be more then they have dreamed and inspired the parents and crowds who have watched him come out week after week.
We know Jeff has inspired us just when we have been at games to cover these guys. He is a special guy and it was amazing to be with him and the kids for a celebration that lasted at least an hour last season as they hoisted up the 6A Trophy!
Then there are the waves of kids coming through the system through which all this positive energy flows. And every year the cast changes. Last years team was loaded.
People said the cupboard was sort of bare this season. No. That would be wrong.
The cupboard is always filling up from moreathletes coming through a system where kids are taught great fundamentals and then given the chance to shine. And they may have to wait their turn but most, if they are patient , get their chance. That is all part of Laker Nation too. "We" Over "I". People say it but doing it is not easy.
Develop talent early on. Give the kids a base and the room to grow. Communicate with them and share a common vision. A vision that the whole will be so much greater then the sum of the parts.
That is the sort of leadership and belief system that these kids come through on. That leads to winning and to success on and off the field.
That in my view, as an outside and inside observer, is a little glimpse into Laker Nation and why it works. It is the people. Not the money. When you find success it is always the people. Not the money.
Every program has their support. Even if it is not huge it is there. For those of you supporting your kids against terrible odds we salute you. Never cease working nor striving.
Wouldn't it be great for every program to have this sort of base?
Well every program can. Just look at Aloha, Roosevelt, Milwaukie, or any other number of Schools. They are all going through various stages of rebuilding and it starts with the People. Always. But rubble can be built into a Castle like Aloha did.
We want that for all programs.
Best of luck to all the kids and schools for a safe game as we head into this final week of the Regular season.