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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Grip on Sports: As Washington State opens its home football season, the Cougars move forward instead of moving on

In this photo taken Aug. 16, 2018, Washington State wide receiver Brandon Arconado puts on his helmet while wearing a sweatband with a #3 on it in tribute to former WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski during NCAA football practice in Pullman, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Everyone has experienced sadness mixed in with the joy sports can bring. That’s part of how sports mirror life. But one would hope a certain type of sadness would never be included. It has this year at Washington State. Read on.


• It’s a hard subject to broach. And one we hope we never have to broach again. When Tyler Hilinski took his life in January, the act forced all of us to examine the epidemic of youth suicide. Again.

Over the years there have been way too many. And way too many young athletes in this area. One would be too many, but even with my failing memory I can recall more. And every time I do, it is with sadness.

Washington State opens its home schedule this Saturday with a late-night matchup against San Jose State. If not for that one act, Tyler Hilinski would be making the start at quarterback. He’s not and the Cougars will be acknowledging why.

The emphasis will be on remembering his accomplishments, not memorializing his death. It’s a path experts urge them to walk. Tyler’s parents, Mark and Kym, will be in attendance, though I can’t imagine how hard it must be for them to get on the plane and fly from Southern California. 

(Before we go further, I want to link Ivan Maisel’s story on ESPN’s website. Maisel, a veteran sports writer, lost a son to suicide a few years ago. After Tyler’s death, he contacted Mark Hilinski to talk. Nine months later they set down again and shared memories. It’s a tough story to read but worth your time. Make sure you have some tissues nearby.)

The Hilinskis will raise the Cougar flag. WSU’s players are wearing a No. 3 decal on their helmets. Most are wearing the blue wristbands from the Hilinski’s Hope foundation taped under their wristbands. Many of his teammates are remembering Tyler in their own way. 

And, as part of the Washington State’s “help and hope” focus, a blue Hilinski’s Hope flag will fly in Martin Stadium’s west end zone this season.

That’s the organization the Hilinskis founded after Tyler’s death. Its aim is to help with suicide prevention and mental health awareness. It is a worthy cause we all wish wasn’t needed.

But it is. Sadly.


WSU: Theo Lawson delved deeply into the subject today with this story. It is a story you should not miss. … The week goes on, with Theo also putting together his Pac-12 picks and posting a transcript of the online chat he held yesterday. … The Cougars practiced and afterward Mike Leach and Dave Nichol talked with the media. Theo has videos.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, it’s time to start looking forward to Saturday’s games. … Washington has lost left tackle Trey Adams to season-ending surgery. … Oregon wants to start faster in the second half. … The new kickoff rule is fine for Oregon State. … Try to stop Bryce Love by stacking the box and Stanford is fine throwing the ball. … A couple of receivers are playing starring roles for Colorado. … The tight ends are standing out for Utah. … Stanford and USC each have one of the St. Brown brothers. … UCLA’s Caleb Wilson has spent his whole life wanting to play in Oklahoma’s stadium. … Arizona State may be missing a starting offensive lineman against Michigan State. … Arizona has to turn Khalil Tate lose. 

Gonzaga: Larry Weir’s most recent Press Box pod covers the Geno Crandall situation as well as other subjects. … BYU officially announced Jesse Wade’s transfer

EWU: It is appropriate Eastern beat writer Ryan Collingwood wrote this look at area players in the NFL. After all, the Eagles have two players starting in the NFL – for the same team. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, the Oregon Ducks are focusing on Portland State’s quarterback. … Oregon State won’t be overlooking Southern Utah. … Montana State is relying heavily on newcomers. … Northern Colorado wants improvement on defense. … UC Davis opens at home against San Diego. … Montana faces off with Drake.

Indians: The North Division playoffs opened last night in Everett, with the AquaSox putting Mariner pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound for a rehab start. The Indians answered with their ace, Yerry Rodriguez. Of course, the game ended up being more about the hitters, with Spokane winning 7-3. The best-of-three series continues tonight in Spokane. … In the South, host Eugene took a 1-0 series lead with a 3-2 win over first-half champion Hillsboro.

Chiefs: Around the WHL, Portland is looking at its future. 

Preps: It’s a busy day, which is the norm on Thursdays in football season. Dave Nichols and Sam Adams have their Pick 6 and Steve Christilaw previews the GSL’s cross country season. Steve also has a feature on Ferris’ new coach. … There was competition last night as well, and we have roundups from soccer and volleyball.

Mariners: Despite picking up a 5-2 win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles last night, the M’s didn’t gain ground on the A’s. And, with less than two-dozen games remaining, that is a loss. … The seventh inning has been the bête noire of the Mariners. … It seems King County and the Mariners have reached a compromise.

Seahawks: Safety Earl Thomas ended his holdout, came back to the Hawks’ practice and issued a promise on Instagram. His presence, and the chip on his shoulder, may be really positive for the Hawks. … Shaquem Griffin will start Sunday. 


• There is no chance Earl Thomas will return to the Hawks next year, is there? So if you own a Thomas jersey, don’t be afraid to wear it even in the game snack includes Nacho cheese or ribs. The stains won’t matter in 10 months. Until later …