Friday, December 31, 2010

Player Defines State of Seattle/Washington

"They say Jake Locker was carved to athletic perfection between the Cascade Range and the Salish Sea. Big, strong and strikingly fast, he was a statewide myth by the time he was a teenager, a high school football force scorching through Friday nights in the farthest reaches of the Pacific Northwest.

By the time he became the quarterback for the University of Washington, he was cast here as nothing less than a savior, a rural kid summoned to the digital city from a place few of his new fans could find on a map, Ferndale, Wash., population 11,000. His father taped drywall for a living. His grandfather worked in a pulp mill for 37 years. Neither of them graduated from college, but Jake would stir the rescue fantasies of an ambitious university and what the Census Bureau has called the nation’s best-educated city.


Seattle is more than generous billionaires and precision composting. It exports airplanes and wine but also wheat and wood. It is still a crossroads, energized by friction between rural and urban, union machinist and transplant techie, immigrant and entrenched. Not far from the rows of bungalows beloved by carbon-conscious New Urbanists, Aurora Avenue, a critical city artery, features stunning views of Mount Rainier — and boarded-up motels.

Yet in the center of it all there has long been a uniting force, the home team. Before the Seahawks or the Mariners or the Sounders soccer team, before Microsoft or Boeing, before the Klondike gold rush or even statehood, there was the University of Washington, founded as the Territorial University of Washington 150 years ago next fall with a single professor and 30 students.

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