Mount Hood

Gender disparity in athletics

Written by:  Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor, Libby Thoma | Staff Writer

Gender disparities are common in the world of sports. Female athletes are generally broadcasted less, paid less and pitted against others disparaged in the weight and size category. This problem is international and does seep its way into Western — although Western is better about these disparities than other schools and professional sports. 

One issue within the sports world is how limited professional sports teams have been for women. The first professional men’s sports league was Major League Baseball, founded in 1869, after the Civil War, with its first team being the Cincinnati Red Stockings — now the Boston Red Socks. The National Football League — NFL — followed suit in 1920. The United States eventually joined the Federation Internationale de Futbol and founded the National Basketball Association, known as FIFA and the NBA respectively, in 1930 and 1946.

Women’s sports, on the other hand, did not have the same starts or even advantages as their male counterparts did. For a period of time during the forties and fifties, there was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was created over concerns about Major League Baseball’s viewership during World War II. After this period, women’s golf became popular, and is currently the longest-running women’s professional sport — the first Women’s Professional Golf Association Tour started in the 1950s.

In June of 1972, Title IX was passed, which prohibited discrimination based on sex or gender. From this point on, women began to get a leg up in, not only education, but also athletics and other federally funded programs. Professional Tennis also became very popular among female athletes at this time.

It was not without its faults, however. Following the passing of Title IX, women still faced misogyny in athletics, as well as the struggle to establish their leagues. The Women’s NBA, Women’s FIFA, Pro-Softball and Volleyball leagues were not founded until the nineties, with many struggling to stay afloat throughout their history. 

Another issue in the professional sports world is that the women’s leagues are paid less than their male counterparts. For example, NBA players receive 50% of shared revenue from their teams and leagues, while WNBA players receive only 20%. In numbers, the average NBA player’s salary is $7.5 million a year. The average WNBA player’s salary? $116,000 a year. That’s a $7.3 million difference.

Further, discrimination is still strong against female athletes and their level of play and abilities. For collegiate softball, one of the most common sayings against the teams is, “450, dead center.” This refers to the differences in field size and pitching style in softball and how most men believe they could easily hit a home run off the softball pitchers.

Western’s sport disparities are minimal but still exist. Although Western seemingly handles any disparities well, they do not handle it perfectly. 

One thing Western excels in is its treatment of male and female athletes. Throughout interviews, female athletes report being treated well, an equal part of the athletic population and happy to be involved with the sports. 

“If there was inequity or inequality in treatment, I would know about it,” said Michael Gonzalez, the Student-Athlete Success Advisor. “Any problems, they come to me.”

Western also does a phenomenal job at broadcasting and advertising female sports — equally to male sports, if not more so. This is extremely important for funding, as advertising and broadcasting boost funding. 

According to Randi Lydum, the executive director of intercollegiate athletics, funding is distributed based on schedule and number of athletes and coaches on the team. Those with a more demanding schedule will receive more funding, while those who may travel less or have fewer athletes receive less funding. 

Scholarships are divided based on the NCA framework that gives the maximum of scholarships that Western can offer. “We try to make sure that the number of scholarships we’re giving… matches the percentage of student participation,” Lydum said. 

The school tries to ensure that female-dominated and male-dominated sports receive the same amount of scholarships, percentage-wise. Lydum states that they take equity in funding and scholarships seriously. Lydum also states that there haven’t been any actual complaints about the amount of funding from athletes or coaches to her directly. 

“…if there is a problem I want to get it figured out. Although Western does equality well, it is not done perfectly. An anonymous athlete states that “There should be changes in the budget according to which sports are more successful,” said Lydum. 

Western’s 2023 Budget Reports state that football received 14,282 in general admin overhead, with baseball and softball getting 6,290. Football gets 165,000 in travel with baseball and softball receiving 85,000, which is the most out of all the other sports. Football exceeds all other sports in recruiting, receiving 12,240 with the other sports getting 1,700–5,100 at most. 

It is easily seen how much of a discrepancy football funds receive in comparison to other sports. Why is that the case when football is easily not the top-performing program?

Football game outcomes are highly disappointing — losing eight of eleven games, with a winning percentage of .273. This is comparatively lower when compared to women’s soccer’s record of 8-5-6, with a winning percentage of .579, or even men’s soccer’s 11-3-3, .735. 

This may be a gender issue, or this may be an issue of putting money towards ‘needed’ costs rather than wins. 

Gender disparities have been found in athletics throughout history, dating back to the very beginning of these sports. It is extremely important to ensure gender equity in our athletics department to set an example for others, and although Western is more careful about equity than other colleges and professional sports, Western can continue to discuss equity. 

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Men’s lacrosse team resurrected

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

Western is home to nine intramural club sports teams that compete in organized intercollegiate competitions. While these sports generally perform well, they are not sanctioned by Western’s athletic administration, which often results in a lack of funding, recruiting and little to no recognition. 

In terms of public exposure, the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams alike have had a fair amount of success, but many club sports teams face challenges with recruitment that leave them with limited options for competition. While the Western lacrosse team has historically been a powerhouse program, their lack of players resulted in a forfeit of conference play last year. 

The team was even featured in an article written by Andrew Golden for the Lacrosse All-Stars, a media outlet and brand for the sport. The article, titled “What Happened to Western Oregon Lacrosse,” stated that, “About ten years ago, a school with under 4,000 students in a non-traditional area won their conference six straight times and still holds the record for most conference championships. That school is the Western Oregon Men’s Lacrosse program.” Golden observed that the last posted roster on the website was in 2022, so while the team did not appear to play in 2023, there is a chance they will come back the following year. His article proved to be true, and with a fresh coach and majority freshmen roster, they are rebuilding the program from the ground up. 

This grassroots operation of revitalizing the team’s former glory was not in vain — first-year Coach Wyatt Livengood actively recruited the vast majority of the team, and the newly minted group recently finished an undefeated season within their division of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association. 

Jack Livengood was a regular player during the season, and when asked about their absence from the MCLA last year and subsequent success during the 2024 conference, he stated, “Last season we didn’t have enough players to field the team, so we didn’t have a season. This year we barely had any players. We had 11 players, there’s 10 on the field, so that’s one sub. Always running around, that’s a lot of hard work. It kind of brought our team together, and we had the mentality that we just have to work together.”

Chris Skelton was a benchmark player for the team this season after his hiatus during the canceled 2023 season. Skelton described why he chose to return to the sport, saying, “I just saw a bunch of dogs out here and I thought, this will be fun. That’s all I saw. We’ve got a bunch of young kids, our team is mainly freshmen and we have no seniors this year, we just had a lot of potential and a lot of commitment — basically, a lot of energy out here. That was kind of what brought me back out here, it was a whole new team, mindset and coach, and it’s been so much fun this year.”

Will Panagakis, a freshman on the team, discussed his experience with facing competition within the club Lacrosse conference. “It’s kind of like, when you step up to the plate, you’ll realize that we’re in the big leagues and I gotta step up. When you step on the field, I don’t know how to explain it — it’s like a wake-up call really, because everyone is so much bigger than you’re expecting.”

When asked about the recruiting prospects for their following season, Skelton said, “We’re expecting a low amount of guys come in, but we’ve been searching up schools, going and watching their games this past week and a couple weeks ago, we’ve been talking to some of the (high school) seniors, and we’ve got a good amount of interest and kids actually want to come to Western next year, so that’d be fun to see what they actually do.” 

Panagakis added, “We were undefeated in the league, so if we get a couple more people we should be pretty good next year. In our league, we play Gonzaga, Central Washington, Puget Sound, Humboldt (Cal Poly Humboldt) and Pacific Lutheran University. Mostly California and Washington teams, but in the spring we’ll play the Ducks (University of Oregon) and the Beavers (Oregon State University).”

Caden Lampert implored students interested in club sports to test the waters: “If you want to go out and be active, just come out and try it. It doesn’t hurt to say you’re not going to but at least come out and see what it’s all about, because you may love club sports and you may want to keep playing it,” Lampert said. 

Panagakis encourages Western students to attend club lacrosse competitions: “If you want to attend a game, I’ve brought a couple of people and they said it was one of the coolest sports they’ve ever come and watched. You don’t understand it when you’re watching it, and that’s the best part — there’s a whole bunch of stuff going on at all times. Lacrosse is something that’s happening at all times, and that is why I like it so much. If you want to come to a game, they’re so entertaining and you should definitely come,” said Panagakis.

Skelton also had a message concerning the lack of coverage for club sports and what students can do to make a change. “Show up and show out, basically just that. I mean, rugby’s playing, swimming’s competing, soccer’s playing, lacrosse is playing, everyone should just show up and have fun and support your team. You all go to Western, so just support everybody.”

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Formula One back in United States for Miami Grand Prix

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

The Miami Grand Prix hosted a plethora of talent in recent weekends, where Formula One and the Formula One Academy both held their most recent Grands Prix. Both races ended on the podium for McLaren drivers, Lando Norris and Bianca Bustamante — first for Norris and second for Bustamante. However, there is an importance in the presence of the Academy racing in Miami, Florida. 

Historically, there have only been five female drivers in the male-dominated motorsport, and only two have ever completed a Grand Prix or scored points on a Formula One Circuit. 

Competing from 1958 to 1992, these drivers became pioneers in a sport where they were not initially welcomed. 

In 2004, Formula Women was created for female drivers and ran for three seasons before its ultimate cancellation in 2007, and in 2019 the W Series was also introduced, but was once again canceled and cut short after three seasons — both due to financial reasons.

However, following the cancellation of the W Series in 2022, Formula One announced it would be funding its own all-female racing academy, to promote and prepare young drivers for higher levels of competition.

There are currently 15 drivers in the Academy, with three drivers on one of the five teams. Additionally, 10 drivers are sponsored by one of Formula One’s teams, while the five not sponsored by a Formula One team are then sponsored by the series’ partners. 

While the first season’s races were not broadcasted — a decision that received pushback from fans — Formula One Academy received huge support from across the globe, as women and girls were finally able to see representation in the male-dominated sport.

A large contribution came from the Formula One drivers, some including Lewis Hamilton, Charles LeClerc and Lando Norris and their brands promoting their sponsored cadets. These sponsored drivers wear the teams’ livery and colors on their cars, as well as participate in press conferences, media tours and dual race weekends at select tracks. The Miami Grand Prix was one such race weekend.

Both sets of drivers had practice sprints on the track, as well as qualifying races to see where in the grid they would be placed, before it cumulated in the Grand Prix race May 5. The Academy races once more than Formula One does, to give the drivers more experience on the track. 

With Formula One Academy racing at 11 p.m. EST in the final race that Sunday, May 5, they were set well ahead of Formula One’s race that evening at 4 p.m. EST. 

Alpine driver Abbi Pulling went two for two in Miami, pulling ahead of McClaren driver Bustamante by a margin of 3.8 seconds in the final laps. Bustamante was looking to right the mistakes she made in the first race, and ended up creating a seven-poll difference in her results — going from P9 to P2.

McLaren was also extremely successful in the Formula One race later that evening. Drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri began the race in P5 and P6 respectively, and while Piastri failed to finish in the top ten, Norris secured his first win. 

Before the race, it had been 539 days since a non-Red Bull or Ferrari driver had won a Grand Prix, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leading the charge in wins, followed closely by Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles LeClerc. Sainz is currently not signed to a team for the 2025 season, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton signing to Ferrari.

Norris was the only driver in the Formula One circuit to make podium appearances while also having no wins under his belt, a total of 16 appearances. In 2021, after a victory at the Russian Grand Prix slipped through his fingers, fans on Norris’ Instagram dubbed him “Lando NoWins,” a nickname he would ultimately change to “Lando NowWins.”

“About f—–g time! Finally! Finally! I’m so happy,” Norris had cheered to his race engineer. Formula One racers are connected to their engineers via radio comms. Norris is also the first McLaren driver to win in a United States Grand Prix since 2012 — Hamilton was the last driver to do this at the Austin Grand Prix. 

Two teams dropped new livery for the Miami Grand Prix for their vehicles: Scuderia Ferrari and Visa Cash App Red Bull — VCARB. 

On April 23, 2024, Ferrari began teasing their livery reveal by posting images to Instagram of Sainz, LeClerc and their vehicles in a 3D style with the caption “Coming soon.” Other posts soon followed of the team and crew wearing blue uniforms.

However, when the team released images of the livery May 1, fans were less than thrilled. Rather than the all blue car they were expecting, the livery now bore eight blue HP logos in varying sizes. Reactions to the livery varied, but all voiced their disappointment, “Ferrari and disappointing fans – the saga continues,” said Instagram user @desaiiiyash15. “(One) month marketing, (one) million posts, for this…” 

The chameleon livery that VCARB unveiled May 3 received a more positive response from fans of Formula One, the “oil slick” look inspired by the colors of Miami and the chameleon Cash App Visa card. 

“The suits. The livery. VCARB ate everyone up, I fear,” said Instagram user @khemkheang_art21. Many others shared this reaction and suggested the team use the livery for the rest of the season.

While Formula One Academy will not race again until June 21 – 23 in Barcelona, Formula One will be in Emilia-Romagna for the Italian Grand Prix May 24 – 26. Races will stream on the Formula One Network and ESPN+.  


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Results of the rugby teams matches’ at nationals

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

With both men’s and women’s+ rugby in Washington D.C. for the National 7s Tournament Collegiate Rugby Championship, each team faced formidable opponents from all over the country. Though it wasn’t an easy fight, the Western rugby program put on a good show, representing the West Coast and Oregon in the Small College division. 

First-round nerves hit both teams, dropping them to lower brackets in the first round. Women’s+ limited experience on the national stage may have manifested as they went scoreless until the third round, where they scored five tries against eighth-ranked team, Sewanee the University of the South. 

“It was a bit nerve-wracking because it was our first time going, but we all fought as hard as we could,” said junior Shabryna Herrera. “We all wanted it. It was a great learning experience, not just for me, but for the team.”

This tournament was the second time the men’s team had attended the 7s CRC, and they fared better than their counterparts. Going two and two in their matchups, their results this year were an improvement from last year. 

The teams now travel into the offseason, with many members of the men’s team playing for the Oregon Sharks Rugby Academy to hone their skills. Some players include Justice Donahoo, Isaac Bare, James Tiboni and Jacob Smith. Bare was also in a six-way tie for the most tries scored by a single player in the tournament — he scored five tries total — as well as in the top ten for most points scored all weekend — a total of 25. Smith was in the top twenty for conversions — the kick after a team scores a try, similar to a field goal in football, which offers the scoring team the opportunity to add two more points to the board. 

“It was really fun to go to a large tournament like this,” Bare said. “I think the tournament was (a) good experience for our team because most of our team is returning next year and that has me already excited.”

Bare also talked about how it was a fun opportunity to compete against players he had met at the Men’s Rugby All-Stars tournament. “In our final we played Denver and one of their players was my roommate at All-Stars and it was fun to have the opportunity to play against them,” he said.

Sophomore Micahel Hager shared similar thoughts on his experience at Nationals. “I didn’t get the chance to travel with the team to the tournament last year, so it was an entirely new experience,” he said. “It was fun. A lot of the guys had never been to (Washington) before. We’re a pretty young team, but we’ll definitely be back next year.”

The men’s team took third place in the Bowl Bracket and eleventh overall, and women’s+ took second place in the Shield Bracket and fourteenth overall. The results of the matchups are below:


First round — versus Christendom College, loss 7 – 31

Second round — versus Howard University, win 29 – 10

Third round — versus Loyola University Maryland, loss 12 – 21

Fourth round — versus Denver University, win 20 – 14


First round — versus Colby College, loss 0 – 50

Second round — versus Ohio Wesleyan, loss 0 – 34

Third round — versus Sewanee the University of the South, win 25 – 24 

Fourth Round —versus Baldwin Wallace University, loss 0 – 34

Both men’s and women’s+ begin practice again in the fall for their 15s seasons. 

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The 2024 NFL Draft

Written by: Michael Hager | Freelancer

The National Football League’s annual draft was held in Detroit, Michigan, which is home to the Detroit Lions. This year’s draft was in the downtown area at award-winning Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza. The NFL draft started this year on April 25, 2024, and ended April 28.

The NFL draft is comprised of seven rounds, each consisting of 32 picks. Every NFL team has the opportunity to make a selection in each round. The draft order adds an intriguing layer to the process. 

To maintain competitiveness and provide struggling teams with fresh talent, the NFL allocates the highest draft picks to teams with the poorest records. This means that the unfortunate silver lining of finishing as the worst team in a season is the privilege of acquiring the Number One Overall Draft Pick in the subsequent year. 

Conversely, the reigning Super Bowl champions are relegated to the back of the line and receive the number 32 pick in each round. The remaining teams are positioned based on their regular season records, playoff performance, and, if applicable, other relevant factors. 

The underlying principle is straightforward: by granting the most advantageous picks to struggling teams, the NFL aims to facilitate their improvement and sustain competitiveness across the league.

Nothing is set in stone in the intricate world of NFL draft picks. Teams have the flexibility to trade their picks for other selections, players or a combination of both. 

The complexity of these exchanges is exemplified by a prime example from the 2024 draft. Last year, the Chicago Bears held the coveted Number One Overall Pick in the 2023 Draft. However, they made a strategic move by trading it to the Carolina Panthers before the draft commenced. 

In exchange, they acquired wide receiver DJ Moore and a package of four draft picks spanning multiple drafts. One of these picks included the first-round selection in the 2024 draft. 

The gamble paid off handsomely for the Bears. Despite relinquishing the top pick to the Panthers, who selected quarterback Bryce Young, the Bears secured the Number One Overall Pick in the current draft season, thanks to the Panthers finishing with the league’s worst record in the previous season.

Trading draft picks is a dynamic process. It allows some teams to accumulate multiple picks in a single round, while others may have fewer or none at all due to previous trades. 

Teams strategically weigh the advantages of current and future drafts, searching for bargains in later rounds to maximize their chances of success. While the process may seem complex, adept maneuvering can yield significant rewards in the NFL draft.

For reference, offensive positions include Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Offensive Tackle, Offensive Guard, Tight End and Center. This is the first time in NFL draft history where there were no defensive players selected in the first fourteen picks — additionally, this is the first time all quarterbacks were selected in the first round. 

At the start of the draft, the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, goes on to the stage and says his famous line, “With the first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft the…” 

With the first pick, the Chicago Bears — from Carolina — selected QB Caleb Williams, from the University of Southern California. This year, the Bears have the first pick and it’s been known by the sports world that Williams would become their first choice. Williams has been projected to be the first pick ever since he declared his entry for the draft at the end of the season. 

For the second pick, the Washington Commanders selected QB Jayden Daniels, from Louisiana State University — LSU. Daniels was a close second behind Williams for the first pick of the draft. The 2024 Heisman winner will likely bring great talent to the Commanders, but only time will tell.

The New England Patriots had the third pick and selected QB Drake Maye, from the University of North Carolina. The Patriots have been searching for their next Tom Brady — Maye has a shot at being just that.

In the fourth pick, the Arizona Cardinals selected WR Marvin, “Maserati Marv,” Harrison Jr, hailing from Ohio State University. The Cardinals got a true number-one receiver to help out Kyler Murry. Harrison was projected as the best receiver in this draft. 

The Los Angeles Chargers, with the fifth pick, selected OT Joe Alt, from the University of Notre Dame. Alt is expected to be a great help to Herbert and the Chargers with the offensive line. 

The sixth pick, the New York Giants, selected WR Malik Nabers, from LSU. Surprising the world, the Giants chose not to draft a QB, instead opting to bring in fresh receiving talent. Naber talks a big game and hopes that he can help QB Daniel Jones turn things around in New York.

The seventh pick, the Tennessee Titans, selected OT JC Latham, from the University of Alabama. The Titans shore up their offensive line to help out their young QB, Will Levis. 

For the eighth pick, the Atlanta Falcons selected QB Michael Penix Jr., from the University of Washington. The Falcons shocked the world by drafting Penix after they signed Kirk Cousins to a huge deal earlier in the year. Kirk Cousins said to the press, “Honestly, that might be worse than 28-3.” 

With the ninth pick, the Chicago Bears selected WR Rome Odunze, from the University of Washington. The Bears get some young help at receiver, hoping to grow with their young offensive players.  

The New York Jets swapped places with the Minnesota Vikings and, with the tenth pick, they selected QB J.J. McCarthy, from The University of Michigan. McCarthy, fresh off a National title, was swooped up by the Vikings, in the hopes that Michigan produced another Brady.

The eleventh pick, the Minnesota Vikings, swapped places with the New York Jets and selected OT Olu Fashanu from Pennsylvania State University. The Jets are hoping that this addition will help QB Aaron Rodgers last more than three and a half minutes on the field. 

The twelfth pick, the Denver Broncos, selected QB Bo Nix, from the University of Oregon. This was also a surprise to fans because, with Nix becoming the last QB in the draft, they seemed to steal it away from their division rival the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Las Vegas Raiders, with the thirteenth pick, selected TE Brock Bowers, from the University of Georgia. The Raiders were stunned that there were no more QBs left on the board at pick thirteen, taking Bowers who should make a big impact with a lackluster receiving core. 

With the fourteenth pick, the New Orleans Saints selected OT Taliese Fuaga, from Oregon State University. Fuanga has the potential to be a great help to the struggling offensive of the Saints. 

Finally, the fifteenth pick, the Indianapolis Colts, selected EDGE, Laiatu Latu, from the University of California Los Angeles. The Colts now have a defensive player off the board, making Latu the best defender in the draft. Time will tell if this proves to be the case. 

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Jason Slowey on NFL and Western

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

In a recent interview with Jason Slowey, the Howl Sports Network delves into his experience of being one of three Western players in history to be drafted into the National Football League. The exclusive interview was held on April 24, 2024 — the 12-year anniversary of Slowey’s original NFL prospect interview with KOBI-TV on NBC5. The original news story featured a 23-year-old Slowey in his senior year at Western. Slowey is now 35 years old and, among his other accomplishments, secured a position at Sacramento State University in 2023 as their newly minted rush ends coach. 

Slowey’s interview with KOBI-TV walked viewers through a regular day in the Western football program. After a short tour of his house and pre-workout routine, the video pans to the weight room beneath the football stadium and a quick clip of the track. 

During the filming of Slowey’s power cleans and single-arm dumbbell bench press, he shared that “It’s hard for a lot of people to start something when they’re not good at it, and that’s why people quit things. They start it and they’re bad, then they’re done — but you can get past that.” 

He explained that, at the time, Western didn’t have a sports performance coaching staff, so the program coaches were responsible for lift programs. “Coach Ferguson was our weights coach. We didn’t have Cori Metzgar until my senior year — she’s actually a good friend of mine now — so Coach Ferguson was in charge of the weights programs and what we did in the weight room.” 

Slowey was recruited straight out of high school in 2007 and spent his first year in the program as a redshirt, meaning that he had little to no game competition and was measured on his performance in the weight room. 

“So, the first day we came into weights, and Coach Ferguson did this challenge with the team where we had to bench press 225, as many reps as we could. I only did three reps. I was the weakest player in the program, but I just took that as an opportunity to get better. Me and a few of my friends would go in when no one else was in there, and we would teach ourselves how to lift in our off-time. I wasn’t the strongest or best player coming in from high school, so I just dedicated myself to becoming better in the weight room and on the field.”

Eventually, Slowey would become one of the strongest prospective blockers in the NFL. In an article written by Sports Illustrated reporter Tony Pauline, he described Slowey as “…one of the nastiest blockers in the draft.” Slowey attributes that to his lengthy time in the weight room and dedication to gaining weight and muscle, thinking back to the time when he could bench press 225 only three times before failure.

Slowey was in his senior year at Western when Coach Ferguson pulled him aside and told him he was being considered as an NFL prospect. “We had a bunch of recruiters and teams coming to practice, coming to lift, seeing how I was with the guys and how much weight I moved during my workouts.” Following a successful 2011 season, the following year’s NFL draft was held on April 26-28, 2012. 

“I was in my home here at Western, and I had about twenty people at my house for the three days it was being aired. My friends and family were excited, but I was trying to play it cool. By the time we got to the last day, I started getting nervous with the possibility of not getting chosen. On the third day, I got a call from my agent, and they told me I was going to be a sixth-round pick. That’s when I got selected by the 49ers,” said Slowey.

Slowey played with both the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders during his time in the NFL, then he went on to play for the BC Lions, in the Canadian Football League and spent some time playing arena football for the Portland Thunder. Due to Slowey’s lengthy struggle with a back injury, he retired from the sport in 2014. 

Slowey stated, “I was dealing with my back injury for a long time, and I ended up retiring. But I’m just like every other athlete that’s had to deal with an injury that caused them to stop playing because I still wanted to be involved in the game somehow, I wanted football to still be in my life. I came back to Western and I asked about a coaching position with the football team, but there wasn’t one at the time, so I took up a job with track and field. I was able to work with both sports at the same time and just worked my way into eventually coaching football.” 

Slowey worked at Western until 2022 and was offered a position at Sacramento State University as the rush-ends coach.

“It was a bit weird, the transition from playing offense my whole life to coaching defense. I was an offensive lineman and a center all my career, so to come in and coach defense was interesting for sure, but I’m having a good time. It’s been a journey and I’m grateful for everyone that’s been along for the ride.”

Slowey had some words of advice to players in the Western football program, having come out of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference — GNAC — himself and securing his place as one of three players to represent the Western football program on a national level. 

“Trust the coaches, trust your teammates and trust the program. It sounds like a bunch of coaches’ lingo, but it’s true. Trust the process that’s been set in front of you, and put in the work to get to where you want to be.”

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Western’s men and women’s rugby to Nationals

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

For the first time in Western’s history, both men’s and women’s rugby teams are going to the Collegiate Rugby Championships — CRC — National 7s tournament. The ruggers — as rugby players are often called — stamped their tickets to Washington D.C. for the second time for the men’s team and the first 7s tournament attendance for the women’s team. Both teams have competed in the National 15s tournament at least once. 

Initially, the women’s team hadn’t even realized they could put in their bid for nationals. 

“Our coach was like, hey, did you know, like we could go to a qualifying match and go to nationals? I was like, do it, and then we did it and we went and I was like, we should have been doing this,” said senior Claire “Car” Rickis. Rickis is the club’s president and has played rugby for five years. 

A Howl representative recently had the opportunity to sit down and interview the members of the women’s rugby team. It was evident the team was a close-knit group, as they all spoke highly of each other, along with playful jabs that are common amongst friends and teammates.

When prompted with questions about zombie apocalypses and deserted islands, they shared a variety of answers but dissolved into laughter when Rickis said teammate Estela Miranda-Aguilar would be most likely to resort to cannibalism.  

“There’s a lot of high energy, and I think ambition that everybody feels. It’s like a shared goal,” said senior Ever Young. Her teammates voiced similar feelings of excitement and pride.

To qualify for Nationals, the women’s team needed to win the Fool’s Gold tournament, facing off against the College of Idaho, Willamette University and the University of Idaho. Standings in this tournament were based on the wins and losses of each team. 

In the Fool’s Gold tournament, which was hosted at Western, the women went 2-1-0, leading the qualifying tournament with 11 total points. 

Coach Nic Smith feels confident about the team’s ability to come home successful from Washington: “I truly feel great about our chances of coming back home with a trophy. The team has trained hard, they play better and better each game, they’ve learned so much about rugby, and the want is there,” Smith said. 

The men’s team shares similar positive energy on the road to Nationals.

“I think we’re pretty prepared. I think we have a good shot going in,” said sophomore Jacob Smith. “Most of us have been there before, so we’ve just got to capitalize and do what we know.”

In last year’s 7s CRC, the men were knocked out in the second round by Babson College — who went on to win the tournament — and placed tenth overall in the nation. 

Recently, they added the title of 2024 Northwest Men’s Collegiate Rugby Conference champions under their belts, accomplishing this for the second year in a row. 

After losing to the Oregon Institute of Technology — OIT — in their first match, they quickly bounced back and dominated the pitch against both the University of Puget Sound and Willamette University in the second and third matches. Gonzaga University was also supposed to participate in the tournament but ultimately dropped out due to undisclosed reasons. This meant the men would play OIT a second time to decide the conference champions. 

Western’s loss against OIT in the first match determined that Western would start the match with a seven-point deficit. 

After scoring quickly in the first half after a total of seven minutes of play, Western proved a strong opponent this second time around. The teams went try for try in the second half, but Western was able to capitalize on OIT’s weaknesses and come out victorious.

“We’re a second-half team,” said senior Sangato Letisi. “But we’re working on becoming a first-half team.” The team’s first half against OIT in the second matchup was certainly their strongest outing of the tournament. 

OIT is the strongest competitor Western faces in their conference but has struggled in recent history to make waves against Western’s strong defense. 

On April 20, the brackets for both the men’s and women’s tournaments were announced. Each bracket is split into an east and west region, with the top sixteen teams from across the nation competing for the championship. The two regions represent the three different styles of bids each team has given. 

The men’s teams can qualify in one of these three ways: by winning their national qualifying tournaments, a conference champion bid or an at-large bid. The women only have two avenues: a conference champions bid or an at-large bid. 

Western’s clubs qualified with the men winning their tournament and the women being the conference champions. 

The men will be facing off against the one-seeded team for the west, Christendom College. The Christendom men’s team were champions for their conference this year and are a part of the Cardinals Men’s Collegiate Rugby Conference. Virginia Military Institute competes in this conference as well, ranking third in the east region.

The women sit as one of the middleman teams, meaning they will play Colby College Women’s for their first match-up. Like Western’s women team, Colby was the champion of their conference — the Rugby Northeast Women’s Collegiate Conference.

The 2024 CRC will be taking on a new bracket format this year: for the first time, a Cascading Bracket will be played. 

Completely eliminating pool play and knock-out rounds, the Cascading Bracket has four brackets of play: the cup, bowl, plate and shield brackets. If you lose in the cup bracket, you will drop to the bowl bracket, rather than being eliminated from the tournament. This ensures more matches for each team, as well as more exciting brackets.

This is also good news for Western’s rugby teams, as it means they will not be knocked out if they lose. Last year’s loss against Babson eliminated the men’s team on their first day of play, meaning they did not compete on the second day of competition. This new bracket format will mean Western will face opponents on both days.  

The men travel to Washington on April 24, and the women will follow in their travel schedule tomorrow. Play for the teams will occur this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the men’s championship game being played on Saturday and the women’s on Sunday.

For the CRC, Western’s rugby teams will also be traveling the furthest to compete: a total of 2,862 miles to Washington. Other universities from Oregon — Oregon State University men’s and the University of Oregon women’s — follow close behind Western in how far they have to travel. Oregon universities will travel a combined roundtrip of 17,010 miles. 

Matches will be live-streamed on the National Collegiate Rugby website and the Club Sports YouTube page. 

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