Each week during the season, Washington State will have a surprise captain, usually a star from the school’s past.
Saturday the Cougars’ 12th man wasn’t a former player. It was current team member Cory Mackay, who was paralyzed below the waist last May in a one-car accident.
Mackay might have been starting at defensive end Saturday if not for a roll-over on state Highway 26 as he headed home after last school year, leaving him with no movement from the waist down.
Instead, he’s now at home in Redmond, Wash., going through rehabilitation, taking on-line courses from WSU and vowing to return to Pullman in the spring.
He joined the team Friday at the hotel and came into the locker room before the game to talk with his teammates before heading up to the south concourse.
Mackay, wearing his No. 6 jersey and a white NY baseball cap on backward, rolled his wheelchair up the ramp to the pole accompanied by WSU president Elson Floyd. He raised the Cougar flag just before the coin flip, acknowledging the cheers of the crowd with a wave of his left arm.
Seeing Mackay meant a lot to his teammates.
“It’s a tragic thing that happened,” senior center Kenny Alfred said. “There needs to be respect paid to that and that’s what was done. I think that was great.”