Late Monday night Cascade football first-year head coach Joe Cronin received a phone call letting him know there would be a special guest at his practice the next day.
Dennis Erickson wanted to stop by and see how things were going.
“We can use all the help we can get,” said Cronin, who is taking over a football team that hasn’t won a game in two years. “It was really cool to have him out there and show his support for some kids that need to feel loved; need to feel appreciated.”
After a brief meeting about Gold Cards — fundraising cards the Bruins players sell — the team came out to the field to stretch but found Erickson and a group of other Everett civic leaders waiting for them. Cronin told his players to take a knee and introduced Erickson, who proceeded to talk to the team about the importance of practice, getting better every day and working hard.
“It couldn’t have been better,” Cronin said. “Here it’s Dennis Erickson and he was talking about all of the same things we’ve been hitting. You would have thought he was their coach.”
Erickson was fired by Arizona State on Nov. 28 and told The Herald in January that he expects to sit out the 2012 season and isn’t sure he’ll ever coach again. “He said he’s got a lot of free time,” Cronin said.
Erickson isn’t a Cascade alum, in fact just the opposite, he was the star quarterback at rival Everett. But Erickson’s dad, Robert “Pink” Erickson was the first-ever head football coach at Cascade and the younger Erickson played football with Cronin’s dad, Burt, at Everett. Cronin said Erickson hasn’t been the only community member to come out and throw their support behind the rebuilding Bruins.
“My former coach Paul Lawrence (longtime Everett football coach) came out and a bunch of former Cascade greats have been coming out to practice,” said Cronin.
After the pep talk Erickson joined the Bruins for their “Win on 3” chant and also did the Bruin Whisper, a team-building cheer Cronin resurrected from the Terry Ennis years. Erickson also bought a Gold Card off of senior tight end Steven Gallardo and showed off one of his National Championship rings to the players.
“The kids’ eyes were like saucers,” Cronin said. “I mean this guy coached at Miami, where he won two national championships, then he coached the Seahawks, Niners, Arizona State. It was incredible.”
At the end of his talk Erickson, who lives in Couer d’Alene, but still spends a lot time in his native Everett, promised the Bruins he’d try to get to a few games and that he’d be following the team’s progress throughout the season.
“I said ‘Hey, you can help me call a few plays,” Cronin joked. “He just shot right back: ‘Nah it’ll be nice to have somebody else second-guessed for a change.’”