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Fogerson plays with heavy heart

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
Published:
PASADENA, Calif. — Even before the tackler met him, University of Washington running back Johri Fogerson knew he had made a mistake. Clear as the Southern California skies, he could hear someone tell him so.
God, Johri!
That’s the sound Fogerson heard after catching a pass in the flat and trying too hard to shimmy and shake. The play resulted in only a one-yard gain, and immediately he heard the voice of one of his former coaches in his head.
It was the voice of Phil Lumpkin.
Fogerson’s former basketball coach at O’Dea High School was in his thoughts Saturday, when the UW football team lost 24-23 to UCLA. Fogerson had dedicated the game to Lumpkin, who died suddenly earlier in the week after a short bout with pneumonia.
“Every time I went out to practice this week,” Fogerson said. “I could hear his voice in my head.”
God, Johri!
It was Lumpkin’s trademark gasp of frustration. And, like the memory of his former coach, it was with Fogerson on Saturday afternoon. One could say that he played with a heavy heart.
“I cried, and I definitely miss him dearly,” Fogerson said after catching four passes for 27 yards Saturday afternoon. “But it didn’t affect how I worked this week. He’s gone, and you have to get through that.”
Fogerson found out about Lumpkin’s death about the same time most of Seattle did, last Monday night. He had just come off the UW practice field when he discovered, in Fogerson’s words, “about 25 text messages” on his cell phone.
“It was totally unexpected,” Fogerson said. “I thought he’d be coaching until he was 75. He was one of the most active coaches. That blew my hair back.”
Eventually, Fogerson tried to push past his pain and stay focused on the goal of getting UW back on the winning track.
Even though that didn’t happen, Fogerson was back in the rotation after seeing his role limited in the Huskies’ two previous games.
With three games left on the schedule, Fogerson plans to continue dedicating them to his former coach.
“Things mean a lot more now, after the way he died,” Fogerson said. “He’s going to be missed by the whole O’Dea family.”
Story tags » Huskies Football

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