Former WWU football player marches on
March 24, 2009
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
by MICHELLE NOLAN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Pat McCann will go down as the last outstanding pass receiver at Western Washington University, but his most heartfelt goal is to become known as the last fine football coach to come out of the program.
McCann, a spring graduate and a much-honored standout on the Vikings' final football team, will hit a Western field one final time on Sunday, March 29, when he will lead a benefit football camp for elementary and middle-school youngsters.
The clinic, to be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the field near the Wade King Recreation Center, will cost $25.
Ironically, McCann's star guest, Bobby Engram, will be involved in perhaps his final football duty in Washington state. Engram, a 36-year-old, 13-year NFL veteran, recently signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after eight years with the Seattle Seahawks.
"We've signed up 56 kids already (as of the past weekend)," McCann said. "We have room for plenty more. People should go to the Whatcom Family YMCA or call there for registration information."
McCann, who set up the camp along with former Western teammate Kevin Jones, feels sad that it seems as though none of the kids who attend the event will ever play college football in Bellingham.
Instead, many of them will have to do what McCann did when he graduated from Olympia High - seek a football opportunity out of state. Although he was all-league at Olympia, he didn't have receiving numbers big enough to attract significant college attention and so played two community college seasons at College of the Canyons in Southern California.
"Finally getting the opportunity to play at Western meant everything to me," said the 6-foot-2, 195-pound wide receiver, who caught 58 passes for 1,057 yards and 11 touchdowns to earn all-conference and third-team all-region honors in Western's final season.
It was the only season at Western for McCann, who hopes his football days aren't done. He plans to participate in two Canadian Football League tryouts, but regardless of whether he plays the pro game, he plans to stay in football.
"I definitely want to make a life-long career out of coaching on the college level," he said. "I love college football."
McCann figures local youngsters are in for a treat when they get the chance to see Engram, who caught 399 passes in the past eight seasons for Seattle.
"An old football friend of mine from (rival) Capital High, Skyler Fulton from Arizona State University, runs the Bobby Engram Foundation," McCann said. "That's how he (Engram) wound up agreeing to come to our camp, since it's a benefit for both his foundation for sickle cell anemia and for the YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign."
"I wanted to make the camp affordable to everyone, so that's why it's $25," said McCann, who majored in exercise science with an emphasis in sports psychology. "The money goes to two great causes, and the day will help me fulfill an on-field requirement for one of my final college classes."
McCann had to endure a lot to play college football. An injury knocked him out of his first community college season, and then he had to face the culture shock of competing with Southern California high school talent and speed for playing time at College of the Canyons.
"There's just an amazing amount of talent and speed in California," he said.
McCann has wanted to coach since he was young, so when his brother, Jeff, wound up teaching at Alemany High, Pat enrolled at nearby Cal State Northridge in the fall of 2006 and took advantage of the opportunity to coach football at the nearby high school.
"But I still had the football bug and came to Western in the spring of 2007," he said. "But it turned out that because of the complications of quarters and semesters, I couldn't play until 2008. But I was able to practice with the team in 2007. Coach (Robin) Ross and the staff were incredibly helpful to me.
"There were multiple times always the way I thought of quitting football, but now I'm so glad I didn't."
McCann fulfilled the Western staff's faith in him by having a season strong enough to warrant the attention of CFL scouts.
"I'll participate in a tryout soon with Edmonton (April 4 in San Mateo, Calif.) and the B.C. Lions have shown interest," he said. "I'd like to think I have a shot. That's all I ask for. I'm healthy and in shape. I feel I'm at my peak physically and mentally."
McCann is especially pleased to see the local YMCA benefit from his project.
"I believe in the YMCA's core values of stressing caring, honesty, respect for others, and personal responsibility," he said. "And I can't imagine when I was a kid having a chance to see someone like Bobby Engram. I'm excited to have him visit us, too."
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