Reflecting on the Hawks’ first-ever state football championship in December, two teammates said a sense of community—on field and off—was key to their success.
“After we won the state championship, it was so special to look up (in the stands) and see the whole community of Hockinson was there,” said senior quarterback Canon Racanelli.
The win against Tumwater marked the end of a fairytale season in which a team from a little-known district in Southwest Washington just kept on winning. The team bus returned to Hockinson High School under police escort, and the team was met by crowds of supporters and fire trucks from District 3. They received atta-boys when they visited the Hockinson Market, on trips into Vancouver and even, recalled senior defensive lineman Kyle Brabec, on a post-season flight to Florida.
“You’re playing in front of the whole community, and it seemed like the whole of Clark County was behind us,” Canon said. “It feels like the world,” Kyle added.
The sense of community that surrounded the team was reflected in the players’ dynamics on the field and off.
“Often teams have the talent but not the connection as a team,” Kyle observed.
The teammates said head Coach Rick Steele played a key role in that as he mentored team members and taught “Man Class,” a weekly gathering where he encouraged his players and others to make good choices in every decision, whether big or small.
“We started to be more than a team,” Kyle said.
“It’s something I’m going to carry with me the rest of my life,” Canon said.
Kyle recalled the moment when everything came together for the Hawks. It was at the end of Liberty game, the win that launched the team into the semi-finals.
“That was when we first locked everything in,” Kyle said. “We trusted each other.”
And that carried the Hawks all the way to the state championship.
“It shows if you really want something and are willing to put in the effort, you can achieve those dreams,” he reflected.
Originally published in Hockinson’s November 2017 newsletter “Education Matters.”