For countless years, fans of the Washington Huskies celebrated gridiron scores by marveling at the Husky Helmet Car whirring around the track at Husky Stadium. The golden four-wheeler has since been relegated to the garage, but UW diehards still have a unique vehicle that separates them from the pack. On game days, Purple and Gold supporters march to the sea and travel via boat to arrive at the coliseum. It’s the sort of pregame experience that you can only find in the Pacific Northwest.
If their penchant for sailing the waters of Lake Washington weren’t enough, Husky loyalists can also lay claim to one of the most renowned celebration moves in all of organized sports. In 1981, “The Wave” was born in Seattle during a football contest between Washington and Stanford. On that fateful day, a UW cheerleader urged the crowd on hand to rise up and take part in the coordinated cheer. The synchronized effort wasn’t performed as seamlessly as designed, but it is credited with inspiring the Dawgs to score 28 unanswered points and defeat the Cardinal.
The university’s first football team debuted in 1889 and enjoyed success on the gridiron almost right away. While those young pups never played in more than ten games a season, they were victorious in most of their matchups. As the schedule expanded, UW just kept winning. From 1907 to ‘17, the Purple and Gold rolled through 64 straight contests without being beaten (for the record, they won 60 games and tied four times). In ‘23, the program booked its first appearance in the Rose Bowl, and two years later, returned to Pasadena. After a third trip in ‘36, Husky fans would have to wait more than 20 years before seeing another postseason showing. However, the delay would prove to be worth it. Jim Owens orchestrated 10-win campaigns in both ‘59 and ‘60, and led the Dawgs to two victories on the Rose Bowl stage, as well as a share of the national championship.
Field general Don James assumed the head coaching reins in ‘75 and is arguably the man responsible for giving the Dawgs their bite back. Over the course of 18 seasons on the sidelines, James guided UW to 14 bowl appearances, including six trips to the Rose Bowl. In both ‘84 and ‘90, the Huskies posted double-digit wins and received consideration for the NCAA crown. Finally in ‘91, the Dubs went a perfect 12-0 on the year and captured a consensus national title.
Just like how fans are encouraged to take part in “The Wave,” visiting teams are implored to follow the instructions in the school fight song and “Bow Down to Washington.” Whether it’s on the gridiron or the hardwood, Husky Nation will settle for nothing less than victory. Purple and Gold have long been viewed as the colors of royalty, but diehards in Seattle have their sights set on something other than a regal throne: more hardware to add to their growing trophy case.