The Cougar Connection – “Pullman Is Truly a Magical Place”

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Cougar Football Saturday is a one-of-a-kind-experience. It is synonymous with the type of atmosphere you would see in a high-school football movie set in small-town Texas. There is nothing more important to the Cougar faithful than a win on Saturday, and in the last five years, those wins have occurred on a regular basis.

If you’ve never been to Pullman, Wash., home of the main campus of Washington State University, it is a small wheat-farming town in the middle of nowhere. To get to Pullman, you must drive down a sketchy two-lane highway that even daredevils may find chilling. During the winter, this route gets even more treacherous, as the roads are covered in snow, black ice, and gusting winds propel into your car to add to the excitement.

But there is something amazing about this town that keep the students returning back, time and time again, and many citing their adventures in the Palouse as the best of their lives.

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The outside perception of WSU may be a party town where kids drink way too much and stumble across Greek Row. And while this may be true to a small degree, this is a just a tiny aspect of the amazing community.

What is not seen is the friendly atmosphere of everyone, the hard-working students who walk to class in the snow, and the beautiful mix of people from all over the world. This is what makes Cougar Country unique in its own right, and what makes it WSU.

But most importantly, it is something that is felt. There is a strong bond between everyone at this university that cannot be explained; it’s only understood by living it and feeling it first-hand.

It’s displayed by the countless WSU license plates, the random “Go Cougs” you’re sure to hear in any city around the world, and instant camaraderie felt by anyone who has attended the school. 

Pullman is truly a magical place.

The mix of people is absolutely beautiful. In a time where the U.S. feels increasingly divided, the town provides the ideal combination of rural and city life combined. Many kids who go to this school are from the Greater Seattle area, but the school is located in the country. This mix creates an authenticity that is hard to duplicate.

You’re just as likely to hear a Migos song blaring in a BMW as you are a Blake Shelton song in a tractor.

But this doesn’t just define the students. This concept also applies to the town folk. The people who live in Pullman on a year-round basis are a combination of professionals and farmers, and for some reason they get along beautifully. There is no jealousy, no disrespect, and no talk of politics; it is a Cougar connection that permeates into every corner of this community.  

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We’re all family, and the family’s favorite holiday is Cougar Football Saturday.

But how do you know it’s Gameday?

Simple: Every restaurant is filled to the brim, every hotel is booked, and swaths of people covered in crimson and gray can be spotted at every turn. This has been happening for decades. The fan base never dwindled during countless losing years; if anything, the passion and dedication may have only increased during the tough times.

On a Saturday afternoon in the Palouse, all you’ll find is smiles, from young to old, black to white, and rich to poor. The family get-together has just started and we’re all looking for one outcome: a WSU victory. Even when WSU loses, the fans console each other and ALWAYS believe that we’ll get em’ next time. The spirit is unshakeable.

When the Cougars broke a 16-game conference losing streak in 2010, students ran around campus screaming their heads off as if WSU had just won a National Championship. This is the exact same passion that was displayed when the Cougs beat Oregon in front of the eyes of ESPN College Gameday.  On that day, the nation got a glimpse of what it means to be a Coug. For WSU fans it’s always within us. 

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From a number’s standpoint, many stadiums have more capacity, a bigger fan base, and increased media attention. But from the currency of passion, WSU is undefeated.

One thing that may separate the Cougs faithful from others is their united hatred for their rivals, the Washington Huskies. Even when the Cougars are playing a non-conference opponent like South Whoyadaddy Community College, you can hear a random “F the Huskies” chant. Does it make logical sense? No. But it’s WSU—nothing necessarily is normal in this beautiful community.

Even though the Cougs have struggled against their rivals as of late, the fan base remains certain they will win the next Apple Cup and capture the elusive Pac-12 North crown.

Last season, the country was captivated by the Mississippi Mustache quarterback, Gardner Minshew. WSU fans hope they can relive this success in the upcoming season. But even if they struggle to win games, the love will remain, and the hilarious soundbites from Mike Leach will ensue.

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It’s that time of year again. As August hits, the students will be returning to Pullman and college football is around the corner. A new crop of freshmen will get to experience their first baptism in the Cougar culture, and tenured fans will be ready for moments of greatness that only the gridiron can create.

Let’s get ready for some football, some laughs, some memories, some sun and everything in-between.  

And that’s a Cougars First Down!

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About Author

Nicholas Bartlett

My name is Nicholas Bartlett I am from Shoreline, Washington (North Seattle). I am 28 years old and a graduate of the Edward R Murrow School of Communications at Washington State University. I am a coach for a 6th grade boys basketball team and a coach for a 5th grade girls basketball team. I also am a assistant coach for a unified basketball team which is associated with the Special Olympics. You can contact me at Nb206wsu@gmail.com.

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