Coming to the defense of the bandwagon fan

 Hockey fans in Las Vegas can't be described as diehard, but they are still out there having fun. (photo by Christian Petersen)

Hockey fans in Las Vegas can't be described as diehard, but they are still out there having fun. (photo by Christian Petersen)

By Michael Moniz

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a person who takes part in or becomes enthusiastic about something only when it is popular or fashionable is considered a “bandwagon fan.” Chances are at some point, someone has called you this, either to try and separate you from whatever success you’re following or just try to put their own self on a higher level as a fan. I am here to tell that it is 100% fine to be a bandwagoner and that us “diehards” need people like you to help sustain the success of our team.

You see this with every team that has quick unexpected success, whether it’s during March Madness with its alumni scattered through the country and some guy in your office who went to Loyola (happened to me this year), or people that live in the Bay Area and cheer for the Milwaukee Bucks because they are of Greek heritage and their best player is from Greece. These are the small nuances that help bring a whole new demographic of fan to the sporting world. Without them, the product that is out there would be nowhere near what we see today.

If you know me, you know that I am a diehard Notre Dame fan. I’ve followed them probably closer than any other sports team, without having any real connection to the school other than being Catholic and part Irish (not just on St. Patrick’s Day).  But back when I was about five years old, I started off as a bandwagon fan. My older brother loved Notre Dame and everything he liked, I did too. We both jumped on the Notre Dame train that year and luckily they won the National Championship. 30 years later after heartbreak and constant ridicule from friends and family, I now wish big bro John was yelling “Roll Tide” back then instead.

With the Giants title runs in 2010, 2012, and 2014, along with the recent dynasty run by the Warriors, people LOVE to throw shade at us fans and call us out for jumping on a bandwagon. We immediately get defensive and usually spout off a few facts about having a Will the Thrill poster in our room growing up or saying that we used to emulate Tim Hardaway and his killer crossover to prove that we’ve been following the team long before they were considered a success. These people will then move on from bashing us to then going after the actual bandwagon fan base. The fan that doesn’t know more than three players on the team or you could’ve sworn was a Kings fan in the 2000’s. At this point, don’t try and distance yourself from the bandwagon fans. Embrace them.

Fans from other teams will be quick to shoot them down or feel like they need to quiz them on some obscure facts about the 1954 team or something to make them feel like they’re not a true fan. But who cares about the level of fandom? There is no rulebook or certain level of knowledge one must have to cheer for a team. Not everyone can be a huge fan with season tickets or have an infatuation with certain players. Does this apply to movies too? Do people quiz others while waiting in line for a premier and then ostracize them if they don’t know what the weather is like in Mordor from Lord of the Rings?

Fair weather fans mean just as much if not more to the bottom line for your team. They’re the ones that spend the massive amounts of money at the drop of a hat to get new merchandise during the playoffs to feel part of the excitement throughout the city. These fans help fill seats throughout the season for all those diehards that choose to watch the game at home because they want to listen to the announcers.

Yes, they will be the first ones to leave when you’re having a bad season. Who really cares though? Their excitement won’t come close to match yours when your team that you’ve rooted for your entire life wins a title. The feeling you get and the pure joy that it brings you is unlike anything else and can only be appreciated by people that’ve had it. That’s what being a fan is all about.

Bandwagon and diehards are all fans at the end of the day. Just enjoy the ride.

The BIG3 Basketball League arrives in Oakland, filling Oracle with hoop legends

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

A long list of basketball’s living legends will arrive in Oakland this Friday evening for a quadruple header of competitive 3on3 basketball in Ice Cube’s BIG3 Basketball League. Starting at 4pm inside Oracle, Bay Area basketball fans will be treated to four hours of star-studded, albeit over-the-hill NBA basketball. To top it off, die-hard Warriors fan E-40 will be in the house to provide live entertainment.

Now in its second season of existence, the BIG3 Basketball League consists of eight teams, competing for eight weekends, followed by two weekends of playoffs with the championship round held in Brooklyn. Friday will mark Week 3 of the 2018 season, bringing together a collection of players and coaches that made the NBA what it is today.

The Bay Area legends that will be back in Oracle on Friday include Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Drew Gooden and Josh Childress. Gary Payton and Rick Barry will also be seen on the sidelines as coaches. If you look beyond those with Bay Area ties, you’ll find tons more star power, led by coaches Dr. J Julius Irving, Iceman George Gervin, Charles Oakley, Michael Cooper and Rick Mahorn. WNBA legend Nancy Lieberman is also a notable head coach. Other players on the floor will include Mike Bibby, Quentin Richardson, Chirs “Birdman” Anderson, Metta World Peace, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Nate Robinson, just to name a few.

Nobody will mistake this for the NBA Finals between the Cavs and Warriors, but when you put this many hyper-competitive NBA superstars on one (half) court, you’re bound to have some fireworks of some sort, rest assured.

The rules of the BIG3 are fairly simple. The half court games are played to 50, win by two. The teams are comprised of seven players. There are three circles out beyond the 3-point line that count as 4-pointers if your foot is in the circle. There is also a 14-second shot clock and the defense must clear the ball outside the 3-point line when they get a rebound.

The Trilogy, led by Kenyon Martin took home the inaugural championship trophy last season. This year, they are off to an 0-2 start. So far the league leader in scoring this season is Baron Davis. He figures to have another big game back on the Oakland hardwood.

If you can’t make it out to Oracle to see the madness in person, all four games will be available either on Facebook Watch or FOX. If you’re looking to gamble on these games, we recommend you seek help.

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Friday’s Schedule

4pm Trilogy vs. 3’s Company (Facebook Watch)

5pm Ghost Ballers vs. Ball Hogs (FOX)

6pm Power vs. Tri-State (FOX)

7pm Killer 3’s vs. 3-Headed Monsters (FOX)

"20 years in the making" - How Bay Area photographer Ezra Shaw got the SI cover shot he so deserved

 (Photo by Ezra Shaw)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw)

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

Over his 20-year career with Getty Images, Bay Area based photographer Ezra Shaw has been at about every important sporting event you could dream of, usually in the front row, trying not to get run over by a multi-million dollar athlete. He’s shot the Olympics over 10 times, not to mention the Tour de France, the America’s Cup, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and everything in between. If you’ve picked up a magazine or logged onto the internet over the last two decades, chances are you’ve stopped and starred at his stunning work. The articles below his photographs rarely do them justice.

Even with print’s inevitable decline, a Sports Illustrated cover shot is still the holy grail for a sports photographer in this day and age. Few things are as timeless in the world of sport. But 19 years into his career, Shaw still hadn’t had his work grace the cover yet. The box was still left unchecked. But all that would change thanks to a painful knee injury.

“Oh you want to hear about the Julian Edelman cover?” asks Shaw with a strong tone of humility over a coffee in Berkeley. “Well let me start by telling you I wasn’t even supposed to be at that game, to be honest. I was scheduled to be at a ski race that weekend.”

Instead of taking one of the most iconic photos in Super Bowl history, Shaw should have been freezing his toes off in a pair of ski boots on the side of Mammoth Mountain. Downhill skiing has always been one of his most challenging and fulfilling sports to shoot, and Getty was sending him out for a race to do what he does best. The only problem was that he suffered a nagging knee injury of his own six weeks before. Skiing down a downhill course to find camera position wasn’t going to work that weekend.

“I put a call into my editor at Getty and we figured out a solution. One of the photographers scheduled for the Super Bowl was nice enough to switch assignments with me. So I showed up at the football game with a bum knee and he went to Mammoth. The ski race ended up getting cancelled because of white-out conditions and I got an SI cover out of it, so I’m not sure how fair that trade was,” laughed Shaw.

Not only was Shaw struggling with a knee injury that weekend, when he arrived to shoot the Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl, he was assigned a position nowhere near the field. “Usually I’m down on the field, but since my knee was hurt and I was the last photographer on the list, they put me in a seat up in the second deck. It was a comfortable spot, but I certainly wasn’t getting great pictures for the first three quarters,” said Shaw.

Indeed, the game was a dud. Nearing the end of the third quarter, The Patriots trailed the Falcons 28-3. It was seemingly over. But what ensued over the next 14 minutes into overtime was unforgettable. The Pats stormed back with 31 unanswered points, highlighted by a circus catch from Edelman on a miraculous heave from Tom Brady. Both products of the Bay Area.

As it turned out, from his perch in the second deck, Shaw held a perfect position to capture the moment. A photo that would forever freeze-frame a historic comeback into one perfect image.

 The closing seconds of Steph's first NBA Title (Photo by Ezra Shaw)

The closing seconds of Steph's first NBA Title (Photo by Ezra Shaw)

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A graduate of Syracuse University’s famed Newhouse School of Communications, it wasn’t until after college in 1996 that Shaw knew for sure that he wanted sports photography to be his career. That’s when Shaw took former Sports Illustrated editor Maureen Cavanagh up on an opportunity to attend the Summer Olympics in Atlanta to serve as an assistant for the SI photographers. He vividly remembers driving to the Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta alongside Richard Mackson and a dozen of the best of the best photographers in the world. Two decades later, when Shaw was snapping his first Sports Illustrated cover, Mackson just so happened to be a few rows down from him, capturing his own Super Bowl shots. It had all come full circle. 

When you talk to Shaw you learn quickly that sports photography has a big element of luck involved. You have to be in the right place at the right time at the right point in the game. Not to mention the right newspaper or magazine has to pick up the right photo. There are a ton of moving parts. That said, Shaw is a master at giving himself the best chance to succeed.

This involves arriving at events days in advance to scope out the best possible angles and backgrounds for potential shots. For example, he’ll climb into the catwalk attached to the ceiling of Oracle Arena in Oakland to attach a remote camera for shots of overhead dunks. Or he’ll scour sight lines for hours on end at AT&T park in San Francisco to find the perfect landscape shot of the ballpark by The Bay.

“I’m always looking to capture the atmosphere of a sporting event,” explains Shaw. “I want people to feel what it was like to be there. If I have an opportunity to shoot from a wider angle to capture the emotion of the event, I will try to provide that perspective.”  

Not only has Shaw witnessed countless sporting events and championship moments, he’s also seen an industry change dramatically over the past 20 years. Early in his career, Shaw remembers attending games with rolls of 36 exposures of film at his disposal. In other words, he couldn’t miss his moment, he only had so many shots to take on a given night. The process could be time consuming. Today, Shaw arrives courtside with a Canon digital camera that will take 14 frames per second for him. Hundreds of photos are taken at every game he attends nowadays. The idea of sticking out above the rest with a noticeable photo is more difficult than ever. It can't be the only thing you think about on a daily basis.

“Overall, one of the most important things for me is to be someone who is easy to work with among other photographers," says Shaw. "If you are trained correctly and work hard at all the events you attend, not just the Super Bowl or the Finals, the photos will come and your work will be recognized.”

So even if it is a Wednesday afternoon A’s game in Oakland, with a sea of empty green seats in the background and the playoffs nowhere to be found, Shaw will still be hunkered down in the Oakland Coliseum’s wooden photo well, chipping away at his craft. Never knowing how the story is going to end or what will ultimately wind up on the cover when the magazine finally goes to print. 

How to execute a perfect day at AT&T Park

By Michael Moniz

For the people that have never ventured to a San Francisco Giants game or just want to experience it like a veteran fan of 35+ years does it, I wanted to walk you through a “perfect day” at AT&T. At least from my humble perspective. 

Starting off at 10:30am, you arrive at Broderick’s in Walnut Creek.  Arguably the best burgers in the East Bay, having a choice of anything from Bison to Duck to Boar to Angus Beef, you can’t go wrong with any burger. These THICK burgers will give you a base to keep you going throughout the day. Also, they have a HUGE selection of beers and a full bar to choose from to get the day going.  Ask for Mikey. Best bartender in WC.

Hop on WC BART around 11:15 with a full stomach, maybe a few road sodas, and a full phone battery. About 45 minutes later, get off at Embarcadero Station. Now I know most people take MUNI to drop you off in front of the stadium, but that has never been my favorite. I find a lot of joy, walking down Spear St alongside other Giants fans during a beautiful day in June. You see, there are a few hidden gems at the end of Spear St along the Embarcadero that you’ll miss if you take MUNI.

Around 12:00PM, you have your most important decision of the day. Beer or Liquor? Hi Dive or Reds? Two historic stops that all Giants fans go to, these spots are a must to enjoy a quick bucket of beers between a few friends (Reds) or a Tito’s and Soda with two limes (Hi Dive). I personally love Red’s as you can get a bucket (6) of Rolling Rock for about $23. In the city, that’s practically free. Also, you’re literally sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the ships roll in. Can’t beat that!

When you look at your IPhone for the 13th time in the last 45 minutes and you see that it is 12:45, start the 10 min walk down the Embarcadero to the stadium.

Things to look for:

- Pedi Cabs. This is the definition of FU money. Usually cost about $10/person although there is no standard fee. I’ve negotiated to $5 one time. I recommend you to try it at least once in your life. It’s like rolling up in a limo. Cool status thing, but once you’re done and you pay, you realize it wasn’t worth it. Can help you if you’re running late or impress a date!

- Multiple kids selling various items (water, peanuts, etc). These kids are good. They will get you in conversation and literally run after you to try and close the deal. Pretty sure they make more than me.

- At least one person singing/playing a musical instrument. These aren’t the run of the mill people. These are entertainers that usually have a mic and speakers and sing covers well. Throw a buck.

- Two guys selling bootleg Bay Area sports teams clothing and hats. Out of everything, this is by far the best value on the strip. Half of my Bay teams (Niners, Dubs, G’s) clothing wardrobe has been purchased from these kinds of people. Shirts, beanies, blankets, If it has a team logo on it, they have it. Also definitely illegal.

 

Now the clock strikes 1:00PM as you’re entering the park. Best place to enter the stadium is in the back near boat docks. Quickest way into the stadium plus you don’t have to walk up the ramps.

Everyone has different preferences for seats. Obviously sitting as close as possible is ideal, but I’m assuming most of you weren’t a part of Google’s IPO. I’ve sat pretty much everywhere, but my two favorite spots were LF bleachers (137) and deep 3rd baseline (Section 134). The value for these seats is unprecedented in my mind. Bleachers you can usually get for $15-25. Section 134 are probably the cheapest lower level seats while also being very easy to get to, near food, and gives you access to the lower level and able to sneak to better seats.

You’re starting to get hungry as it been a few hours since that Bison burger. As soon as I enter the park, I go and get a nice IPA. New this year to the stadium is a partnership with my favorite beer, Sierra Nevada. Sign me up.

As I sip on the hops, I always like to walk around the stadium once and just take in all the different views. I make my way to my seat after and enjoy my view for the first inning or 2. When that is finished, make your way to behind centerfield bleachers for the famous crab sandwich. Although very expensive ($17.50), it is something that you HAVE to eat. Two pieces of toasted sourdough bread, graciously drenched in butter, around about 3-4oz of crab meat and mayo. Tomatoes are also on this and help make this the BEST sandwich in the park. I typically eat this right away. 

After devouring the crab sando, make your way to get some Gilroy Garlic Fries. I’ll warn you right now. This is pretty much minced garlic with some fries on the side. Been a staple forever, and easily the fan favorite. I’ll grab those and another beer and head back to my seat to enjoy the rest of the game.

As you’re watching Mad Bum throw the heat and Kershaw throwing the meat, remind Dodgers fans around you about their choke job last year. If the Giants can’t win, then I’d like the Doyers to suffer a slow, painful loss like they had last year.

There are 4 songs that could be played during the game. The first is obviously in the middle of the 7th, “Take me out to the ballgame” like at every baseball game you’ve ever been to. You have a civic duty to sing your ass off.  In the 8th inning, if the Giants are tied or losing, they play “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. If they’re winning, “Lights” by Journey is played. Either way, Journey kicks ass. If you’re lucky, you might see Steve Perry sing from his seat.

As the game ends in a 1-0 Giants win over the Doyers with Mad Bum throwing a complete game shutout and hitting a solo homer, you’ll walk out of the park with Tony Bennett singing “I left my heart in San Francisco” in the background.

If you want to keep the party going, I recommend 21st Amendment bar a block away or Pete’s or Momo’s right across the street for a celebratory beer. I tend to like doing that for day games so the crowd isn’t so heavy on MUNI or BART getting home.

So there you have it. The perfect Giants game. I almost forgot, you can actually live it this Sunday, June 17th as the Giants host the Doyers at 1:15PM. Do me a favor and bring a friend or your kid and have yourself a day!

Section925 Podcast Ep. 204 - Right Field Will from the Oakland Coliseum

Will MacNeil, better known as "Right Field Will," is at virtually every single Oakland A's home game in Section 149 of the Right Field Bleachers. Will sits down with Section925 and tells stories about being the most dedicated A's fan of the modern era.

Chris Seisay: The Bay Area’s NFL Draft Sleeper

Raised in the North Bay, Seisay is hoping to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. (Photo by Kevin Cline) 

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

It was a week before Christmas, 2014 and Chris Seisay didn’t have a worry in the world. The redshirt freshman was a backup defensive back on arguably the greatest football team in University of Oregon history. The Ducks were coming off a 51-13 thrashing of Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship at Levi’s Stadium to cap off a 12-1 regular season. In a matter of days, he and his teammates would be heading down to Beverly Hills to prepare for the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. The two men he was backing up, both seniors, were surefire NFL draft picks. Marcus Mariota was at quarterback. Oregon was favored in Vegas. Seemingly nothing could go wrong.

“Then I look up, during a routine drill in practice, and I have half the coaching staff staring at me,” explains Seisay, outside a coffee shop near his home in the North Bay on a recent afternoon. “‘You ready?’ they all said. And I was like, ‘Ready for what? Yeah of course I’m ready.’ Then I look over and see our All-American first-round draft pick Ifo Ekpre-Olomu on the ground with a dislocated knee. It was crazy. Before he was even off the field they were asking me if I was ready to go.”  

At the time, you couldn’t blame head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff for reaching for the panic button with Ekpre-Olomu rolling in pain on the Eugene practice turf. The injury to the star who had led the Oregon defense all year instantly created a gaping hole in the Ducks’ secondary that needed immediate filling. Especially with a defending Heisman Trophy winner looming on the other side of the ball in Florida State’s Jameis Winston. A quarterback who had never lost in college up to that point. An unblemished 26-0 as a starter.

“Next thing you know, like a day after the news broke of the injury, I start getting blown up on Twitter and Instagram by all kinds of Florida State fans. People coming out of nowhere telling me I was gonna get torched by Jameis. How I had no shot. I had to delete my social media for two weeks,” explained Seisay with his customary smile.

As if starting as a freshman in the Rose Bowl against a Heisman caliber QB wasn’t enough, consider that this was the first year of the BCS playoff system, and Alabama and Ohio State were on the other side of the four-team bracket. The Rose Bowl’s cliche nickname, “The Granddaddy of Them All” was now even bigger. All Seisay had time to think about was “Man, just don’t let my receiver find the endzone.”   

Drawing on the guidance of his senior wingman Troy Hill, who is now with the LA Rams, Seisay and the Ducks wound up holding Winston and Florida State to just 20 points in a 39-point triumph over the Seminoles. Oregon would force five turnovers on the evening, snapping FSU’s 26-game win streak and sending the Ducks to their second national title game in school history. Seisay was not only ready, but he shined. He was a legitimate shut-down corner now. Nobody stopped Jameis Winston in college. Until he and the Ducks managed to lock him down in Pasadena.

Eleven days later, Oregon would face Urban Meyer and Ohio State at Jerry’s World in Dallas for the National Title. Seisay tallied seven tackles on the night, but it wasn’t enough. Not with Ezekiel Elliott rumbling for four touchdowns on the ground. The Buckeyes won the first playoff title in college football, but the future couldn’t have been any brighter for Seisay. He had arrived on the biggest stage in college football and delivered, twice.

Seisay lays a hit on Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott in the 2015 National Championship Game. (Photo by Icon Sports Wire) 

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Long before Seisay ever arrived on football’s national stage in a loud green Oregon Duck jersey, he showed up in American Canyon, California during elementary school, by way of bordering city Vallejo. Before 1992, American Canyon hadn’t been incorporated as a city yet. They wouldn’t even have a high school built until 2010.  When he moved into town, Seisay essentially had no idea where he’d end up for high school, but that didn’t stop him from falling in love with the game of football at a young age.

“Both of my parents are from Sierra Leone in West Africa,” explains Seisay. “So they weren't too fond of American football, but my brothers Emmanuel and Malcolm really got me into sports. They had me playing everything in the backyard. Baseball, basketball, you name it. They were always testing me athletically.”

As a fifth grader, Seisay was an unstoppable force on the blacktops of American Canyon, linking up for touchdown after touchdown with his buddies. “This was before Snapchat, so yeah, we just played outside all the time to be honest,” he says.

By the time he entered middle school, a local Pop Warner team, the American Canyon Patriots, were recruiting him hard to come play wide receiver. Even reserving Jerry Rice’s #80 for him. Whatever would help convince his mom to let him put on the pads. Finally, it worked, and within a year, Seisay was hooked. By 8th grade, he followed his friend Chad Miller to the Vallejo Generals Pop Warner program and created a duo that had both towns buzzing. Miller, who now plays for San Jose State, made Seisay his favorite target, riding him all the way to a national tournament in Las Vegas. By this time, every high school coach in the greater North Bay yearned for Seisay’s athleticism, knowing his hometown hadn’t built him a high school yet.

“I looked into a lot of different high schools,” says Seisay. Vallejo High, Saint Patrick-St. Vincent, even De La Salle, but I wound up getting bussed up to Vintage in Napa. That’s what all the kids in my area were doing, so I just went with it. It turned out to be a really fun experience up there.”

After starring as a two-way player on Vintage’s JV squad, American Canyon High School was finally finished. His mother Princess, still lukewarm on the whole idea of tackle football, insisted he stay close to home. Seisay hated the idea, but obeyed her wishes anyway.

“That’s when I met coach Mac,” Seisay remembers with a huge smile on his face. “Ian MacMillan, the best coach I’ve ever had. Period.”

With only freshman and sophomores enrolled on the brand-new campus, American Canyon only could field a JV team that year, and MacMillan was the head man. Seisay was an instant star and immediately hit it off with his new coach/math teacher. Teams like Vallejo, Fairfield and Benicia figured to dominate them, but somehow that wasn’t the case. American Canyon was competitive right away. Coach Mac made sure of it.

As a junior, Seisay led a team devoid of any seniors to wins over Piedmont and Vallejo. The next year, Seisay led the school’s first graduating class to a record of 11-2, including two playoff victories. Seisay was a force on both sides of the ball, recording 92 tackles on defense and 11 touchdowns as a wide receiver. Coach Mac relentlessly sent out highlight videos of his senior star to the biggest programs in college football. Almost everyone liked what they saw.

“For whatever reason, during high school I decided my dream school was Boise State,” says Seisay. “I guess it was the blue turf, the Bronco logo, the uniforms, everything. Every time I played NCAA football on Playstation, I played with Boise.”

And after turning heads at a camp in Idaho in front of head coach Chris Peterson, Boise is where he thought he was headed to play in real life. That is until he stepped foot on campus at the U of O. When Chip Kelly calls, you listen, regardless of what team you grew up playing video games with.

In his first year at Oregon in 2009, Kelly immediately took the Ducks to the Rose Bowl. The next year, he had them in the national title game versus Auburn. Then in 2011 Oregon won the Rose Bowl and finally in 2012 they won the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon was literally a machine at that point and they were asking Seisay to help anchor their defense. He couldn’t say no.

Upon his arrival, however, Seisay would find himself with more unexpected change in his life. Chip Kelly took the Philadelphia Eagles job, leaving Mark Helfrich in his place. Even with Kelly gone, the Ducks were destined for success with Hawaiian wonder-kid Mariota under center, leading them to the national title game, while winning the Heisman. The post-Mariota Era was not so kind, however.

Seisay pictured with his high school coach at American Canyon, Ian MacMillan. (Photo by Marty James)

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Seisay remembers the night in East Lansing, Michigan all too well. With a new quarterback at the helm for Oregon, it was up to a young Duck defense to hold down Connor Cook’s Michigan State offense in a hostile road environment. Toward the end of the first half, Seisay went in for a tackle. When he came out of the play, he felt something tear in his left ankle. Without Seisay in the Ducks’ secondary, Oregon went on to lose by three points. A chance at a repeat trip to the national title was all but lost. Seisay was devastated.

For the next eight games, he watched from the sidelines, nursing an ankle that was slow to heal. The secondary he was supposed to be mentoring from the field was left to struggle, mired in silly mistakes due to inexperience. The Oregon staff kept asking if he was ready, but this time he wasn’t. At least not soon enough.

By the time Seisay fully returned to health, the Ducks found themselves in the Alamo Bowl against TCU. At half, Oregon was up 31-0. Then the nightmare started. TCU had nine possessions in the second half, and they scored on every single one, eventually beating Oregon in overtime.

“I’ve played a lot of games in my life,” recalls Seisay. “But man, that had to be the worst ever. Still can’t believe that went down.”

The bad taste of the season stuck with Seisay throughout the spring and into the summer. Eventually, he decided he needed a change of scenery and longed to return to his boyhood position at wide receiver, so he went for it.

“Portland State had always wanted me as a wide receiver out of high school,” explains Seisay. “I was at the point of my career where I wanted to have fun again playing football. I knew if I went to Portland I wouldn’t have to sit out a year. I could score touchdowns at receiver and be healthy on the field again.”  

Of course, the unexpected always seems to follow Seisay’s football career, and this endeavor proved no different. After two games on offense, a slew of team injuries forced Seisay to accept a role back on the Portland State defense. He happily obliged, leading a secondary that proved to be a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy 3-8 season. The following year was an even tougher road for the Vikings. After two close losses to BYU and Oregon State where Seisay shined, the wheels fell off completely, as the program wound up going winless last year.

Seisay wraps up FSU’s Ermon Lane in the Ducks’ 2015 Rose Bowl victory. (Photo by Gary Vasquez) 

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Since graduating from Portland State with a Social Science degree in the winter, Seisay has been back in the Bay Area training for the next step in his football career: the NFL. He doesn’t seem the least bit intimidated by the challenge. For the past four years he’s run in the same circles of all the top rated defensive backs on this year’s draft board including Derwin James of Florida State, Isaiah Oliver of Colorado and Denzel Ward of Ohio State. Looking at these guys on tape and evaluating their combine numbers, it’s hard to tell the difference between them and Seisay. With a 4.4 40-time and a 38 inch vertical, he’s every bit as athletic as your typical NFL defensive back. And at 6’1”, it wouldn’t be a stretch to compare him to some of the taller corners around the league such as recently introduced 49er Richard Sherman.   

On April 12th, Seisay was in Alameda at the Oakland Raiders’ practice facility working out for Jon Gruden. Sources close to the Silver & Black reported that Chuckie was impressed. And if he’s looking for recent Portland State success stories, he doesn’t have to look any further than DeShawn Shead of the Lions and Xavier Coleman on the Jets, both of which recently came out of the Vikings’ program.

“To be honest, I’m not really worried about what is going to happen on draft night. I’ve put up good stats for four years and played against a lot of NFL caliber quarterbacks. I’m comfortable with what I did on my pro day. I have faith that I’ll get my shot. Then it’s up to me to run with it,” says Seisay.

If and when Seisay gets his name called by an NFL team, he’ll have the whole city of American Canyon rooting for him, including an unknown high school that he helped get off the ground.

By the time I wrap up my discussion with Seisay in American Canyon, we’ve been interrupted twice by well-wishers, members of the community that couldn’t help but stop over to say hello to the Chris they’ve watched grow up and since followed on national television. “See man, there’s support in this city,” says Seisay as he continues our debate of the relative merits of Vallejo legends such as Mac Dre, E-40 and CC Sabathia.

“You gonna make it?” asks one particular passerby.

“Man I hope so,” responds a smiling Seisay.  

“Well I think you are.”

Picking the two "All-Time Teams" of the Randy Bennett/Mark Few Era

 The Gaels celebrate after beating Villanova in the 2010 Tournament to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16. (photo by Jim Rogash)

The Gaels celebrate after beating Villanova in the 2010 Tournament to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16. (photo by Jim Rogash)

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

Right around the turn of the millennium, in a couple of poorly lit gyms in the all-Jesuit West Coast Conference, the programs at St. Mary's College and Gonzaga University found a spark. For Gonzaga, the fire was found under coach Dan Monson, who was hired in Spokane in 1997. In just two seasons, Monson (assisted by Mark Few) laid the groundwork for an unforgettable run in the 1999 NCAA tournament behind the leadership of Matt Santangelo and Casey Calvary along with the sweet shooting of Richie Frahm. 

For Moraga, the flame was lit by Ernie Kent, who rode "Big Continent" Brad Millard and David Sivulich to an NCAA tournament birth in 1997 where they would face off with Tim Duncan and Wake Forest. 

By the fall of 2001, both the Zags and Gaels had welcomed in new coaches with the inflated dreams of somehow turning their tiny schools into major stalwarts of college basketball. With Mark Few at the helm at Gonzaga, and Randy Bennett at St. Mary's, basketball fans have been treated to a steady rise in both programs. Every year, the two schools play each other at least twice and usually a third time in the WCC tournament championship. The rivalry, once lopsided and predictable, has turned into what announcers love calling, "the best college basketball rivalry on the west coast." 

For roughly the last 20 years, both Few and Bennett have recruited some of the most colorful, fun-to-watch players in the world to come to their campuses and battle it out for the all-important WCC automatic bid each year. Section925 decided to take a look back and compile and "All-Time Team" that has played for each coach. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Randy Bennett's Saint Mary's Gaels

Starting 5:

1.     Matthew Dellavedova

2.     Mickey McConnell 

3.     Patty Mills

4.     Omar Samhan 

5.     Jock Landale

Bench:

1.     Daniel Kickert

2.    Adam Caporn

3.    E.J. Rowland

4.    Diamon Simpson

5.    Paul Marigney 

6.    Stephen holt

7.     Emmett Naar

Honorable mention:

Mitchell Young

Rob Jones

Joe Rahon

Clint Steindl 

 Richie Frahm and Gonzaga beat Stanford in 1999 to go to their first ever Sweet 16. (photo by Robert Beck)

Richie Frahm and Gonzaga beat Stanford in 1999 to go to their first ever Sweet 16. (photo by Robert Beck)

 

Mark Few's Gonzaga Bulldogs

Staring 5:

1.     Matt Santangelo 

2.    Kevin Pangos  

3.     Adam Morrison 

4.     Ronny Turiaf

5.     Przemek Karnowski

Bench:

1. Dan Dickau 

2. Casey Calvary 

3. Robert Sacre

4. Nigel Williams-Goss

5. Derek Raivio

6. Kelly Olynk

7. Richie Frahm 

Honorable Mention:

Cory Violette

J.P. Batista

Jeremy Pargo

Josh Heytvelt

Matt Bouldin

Elias Harris

Kyle Wiltjer