Nate Shubert flew to Spokane on Monday to prepare for the 4A/3A East-West All-State football game with his West teammates. But the Kamiak senior got a little inside information before he headed east of the mountains from a family member that is quite familiar with the annual all-star game.
Roy Yates, Shubert’s grandfather, played in the same game almost 50 years ago. Having that family tie is incredibly special to Shubert, who talked to his grandfather about his experience last weekend prior to departing for Friday night’s 6 p.m. game at Gonzaga Prep High School.
“It’s super special,” Shubert said. “I look up to him so much, just as my grandfather. It’s really awesome knowing I’m going where he’s gone. It’s really exciting for me, being able to play and having that connection with him.”
Yates, who played for the West squad in 1957, told Shubert to continue to do the same thing that got him to the all-star game: play hard.
“We had a family gathering in Leavenworth so he and I were chatting a little bit,” Yates said. “I just told him to do what he always does: which is try really hard and work hard during the week and everything will turn out just fine.”
In Yates’ final high school football game, his West team defeated the East 28-14 at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane. At the time, players spent two weeks together – as opposed to the one week players get now. Yates said that extra time allowed for strong bonds to be formed with his teammates, many of which he’s still in contact with today.
“I think when you’re able to do this things hopefully he’ll develop and maintain some of the relationships I was able to maintain when I was there and stay in contact with some of these guys over the years,” Yates said.
“We have a group of guys that get together for coffee and one of the fellows that I met at the East-West game is someone that I see all the time now in Everett. Like old guys do, we sit around and talk about things like that (game).”
It was Yates who first introduced Shubert to the East-West game, taking him to the 2006 game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“I’m super excited. It’s something that I’ve watched,” Shubert said. “My grandpa took me to it when (former Ferndale High School and University of Washington quarterback) Jake Locker was in it. I’ve seen it happen. I’m excited to be a part of it and actually play with the guys.”
Another person excited for Shubert is Kamiak head coach Dan Mack. Mack has been praising the tight end for years and is excited to drive over to Spokane to see Shubert, who will continue his football career at Idaho State University, play one final high school game.
“Nate Shubert, what a great kid,” Mack said. “He’s just an outstanding football player. Nate has an innate ability to compete at a high level. He is dedicated to the sport of football. He put in the time to get there. When Nate was a sophomore in our program, we knew that this kid was special.
“And as good of an athlete as he is, he’s a better person. He really is an outstanding young man. He’s going to do great things in his life. And he’s going to catch a lot of balls for Idaho State. Idaho State got a very fine player when they offered Nate Shubert a scholarship.”
Mack, who has coached the East-West game twice, called Shubert “one of the most-liked kids on our football team at Kamiak the last couple of years,” and expected the players on the West team to instantly bond with him.
“He’s a very likable person,” Mack said. “He’s competitive, when he crosses the lines for practice he’s going to be competitive. But he’s just a great person. … He’s got a lot of respect from the kids on our team and around the conference. Nate’s going to have a lot of fun over there.”
Shubert has a couple goals for the East-West game. But his priority is following in his grandfather’s footsteps once again – by ending up on the victorious side.
“I think it would be really cool to score a touchdown or have a highlight play,” Shubert said. “But I’m not really trying for any of those things. I think it would just be really cool to win. To emerge victorious.