Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Building the Foundation for Boxer Football

Bryce Kerschner '14

I hail from the small town of Jordan Valley, Oregon. If you have just paused and asked yourself where you might find this quaint little town, believe me you aren’t the first. I arrived at Pacific University in June for a quick tour of the school I had already committed to sights unseen. Why would any person in their right mind choose to attend a college without setting foot on campus? The answer of course would be the offensive coordinator for Pacific’s football team, Coach Jim Craft. 

Jordan Valley is approximately nine hours away from Forest Grove and one mile from the Idaho border, which puts it roughly in the southeastern corner of Oregon. My graduating class was 13 students and the student body consisted of 30 students. Also, being a 1A school in Oregon, we played 8-man football, a completely different game than I experience now every fall Saturday in a Boxer uniform. 

My senior year, needless to say, recruiters weren’t exactly breaking down the door to get the Player of the Year for the High Desert League. Of the letters and emails I received, Pacific had a different appeal; brand new team, brand new coaches, and uncertainty about how the program will perform. I was slightly skeptical of actually being successful on such a team, but my perception greatly changed one December afternoon when coach Jim Craft arrived at Jordan Valley High School.

Winters in Jordan Valley are filled with snow, sleet, hail, and every adverse weather condition you could imagine. However, Craft managed to get himself from Portland to Jordan Valley in a two-wheel drive car. Of course, being from a small town, everyone is up to date about each other and I am fairly certain they all knew who he was once his car entered city limits. If they didn’t, they all were informed when he checked into one of our finer accommodations. After a few brief encounters with our friendly neighborhood service station staff, Craft became aware of small town life; one filled with doors without locks in our local bed and breakfast. 

After surviving what undoubtedly was one of the longer nights of his life, Craft pitched his recruiting spiel to me in our locker room during lunch. Despite the skepticism I earlier felt about the program, I can honestly say my perspective was drastically changed. If this guy was so bent on getting me to this college that he plowed a Toyota Camry through the slush, stayed in a motel room without any definite security system, and endured the locals at the Basque Inn; perhaps this was the place I needed to be.

I chose to attend Pacific University only two weeks after I had met with Craft and could not wait to start the next chapter of Boxer football. Despite being already committed, I felt the need to visit the campus. Fast forward to June after my senior year; I stood in the locker room devoid of the lockers in which I now use frequently. Before, I visited a field lacking any football markings or field goal posts next to the field house which is now covered with field turf. 

It’s amazing what I would have missed if I judged Pacific by its cover. I hope to look back after I hang up the cleats for good and reflect on what my fellow teammates and I built with a sense of fulfillment and pride. So far as a team we have taken enormous steps forward but the journey is still far from over. 

Kershner '14 is the Communications Assistant for the Office of Alumni Relations and is seeking a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing and is a fullback for the varsity football team. More information about Boxer Athletics can be viewed at

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