One hundred forty freshmen. That was our team in 2010, most of us straight out of high school.
Guys from Oregon, California, Washington, Hawai‘i, Arizona, and even Texas came to play football at Pacific University. We bought into what the coaches were telling us, and many of us took the unique vision they had to heart. Come fall camp, we began working hard. Our progression was amazing, and guys were getting better every day.
The guys who didn’t belong began to weed out, and the Pacific football team started to come together. We were excited to play our first game and couldn’t wait for the opportunity to show our young talent against some of the bigger and older opponents in the league.
I guess you could say it didn’t work out the way we wanted. We went 0-9 that first season, and it was very discouraging. We got manhandled in every single game we played. We were run down, and a lot of guys left the team. The ones who stuck around were the guys who saw the potential we always had.
Building a football program is a long process, and, to be successful in the future, a team must face hardship. We faced this hardship and embraced it. The adversity we overcame in that first season set the tone for a bright future.
During our second season we experienced one of our biggest highs when we won our first game. We beat the University of Puget Sound at home, and the feelings that accompanied that win were amazing.
While Puget Sound was the last-ranked team in our conference, beating them gave us a taste of what we all came to Pacific for in the first place: to win.
And win we did. We won four games in 2012, the third year of the program. We were happy with our success and were slowly working our way up into the conference.
We began to reiterate a saying that has ingrained itself forever within the football program at Pacific: Championship Level Expectation or CLE was our way of life.
We lived it, breathed it, and followed it. This mindset led us into our senior season, a season that will go down in history.
"The legacy we aim to leave behind as a senior class can already be seen in the talent and proficency that these young Boxers have displayed."
– Sean Dalton '14
It all started with Adrian College, a nationally ranked team out of Michigan. We beat them on the road, and, after that win, we wouldn’t stop. We went on to have a very successful senior season, losing three games by a combined 11 points and winning seven. It was the most success we had seen in our four-year tenure as Boxers, and we broke multiple records. Yet, the numbers we put up this season don’t really tell the whole story.
The real story lies within the players, coaches and fans who embody the Pacific University football team. Four years ago, that group of 140 freshmen walked onto Pacific’s campus ready to win. Four years later, only 38 of those original recruits finished their senior season at Pacific.
These 38 guys have grown very close over the past four years. They endured the losses in the first two seasons and bonded together when things were difficult. They listened to the coaches when things got tough, and they trusted in each other that success was just a few practices away. This class founded a culture within the football program and, with the help of some amazing fans, led the team to success in the 2013 season.
The younger players who have joined the team since that first year have adopted this mindset and are exactly the type of guys this program needs to find success after we seniors depart. While the story of the first class will be remembered, the Boxer football team will continue to strive for success in our absence.
I know I speak on behalf of every senior and coach when I say that we are excited to see the future success that the younger guys have ahead of them. The legacy we aim to leave behind as a senior class can already be seen in the talent and proficiency that these young Boxers have displayed. While many of us are sad to go, we know that this program will only grow.
Because of the coaches and players who stuck it out with me over the past four years, my commitment to Pacific University has been an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I will miss my Pacific family dearly, and I will always remain loyal to the Boxer Nation. ■
“... All the adversity we faced helped us to grow as a team. We always fought together and stayed the course.
“... The success that we have had this year has just made the whole journey worth it. The experience I have had at Pacific has helped me be humble in our successes and give God all the glory. I am a better man now than I was when I first got here. I have learned lessons that I will take away from here and implement them in my everyday life.
“... The most important thing that I take away from this experience is all of the brothers I have made. Fighting day in and day out on the gridiron with these guys has helped us all forge bonds that will last forever.
“... I will never forget the times we spent battling together.”
— T.C. Campbell ’14
“As I look back on my football career at Pacific, I cannot help but smile knowing we will leave Pacific as champions.
“... At the end of the day, being a true ‘champion’ is about more than football. It’s about being a person you can look at in the mirror and know in your heart you have made a positive impact on someone other than yourself. We have done this as a program. We are champions.”
— Bryce Kershner ’14
This story first appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine.