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Ten Lake Oswego Football Players Suspended For Early Season Games. One Quit.
Lake Oswego football coach Steve Coury. via

Lake Oswego football coach Steve Coury. via

What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, but the same rules don’t apply to football camp.

Imagine yourself as a high school sophomore good enough to play varsity in one of Oregon’s best football programs. It’s so good that players from other schools transfer to LO for the experience.

You might be a star sophomore, but only seniors get to take the preseason trip to cement the team bond before playing the games that count.

So you wait your turn.

Once you’re a senior it’s your turn. You’ve got the world by the tail and you’re swinging it. Nothing can go wrong. You’ve been part of the team. The memories are locked in for a lifetime of review.

This is your senior year, the icing on your cake, and you and the fellas are ready to rumble.

What could go wrong?

Dreaming The Football Dream

You’ve been looking at the schedule. Southridge is going down. The South Medford Panthers? Pull their claws.

Then the third game, the one that defines the early season against the West Linn Lions. You’re ready for the big cats, but you won’t be there.

Neither will nine of your senior teammates. Ten of you decided to take a break from the hectic pace of preseason expectations and reflect on how you got there.

Maybe the conversation included youth football and the great Neil Lomax. Probably talked about some of the football stars you met at other camps. It’s a heady time.

During such moments of expansive dreams, you might even look past the upcoming season. You’ve heard from college recruiters. Some of your senior teammates know where they’re going. Not all will play football.

But right then and there, late at night in the foothills of Mt. Hood, the future burns brighter than ever. You are all undefeated stars, the faces of Lake Oswego football, the guys sophomores want to be, the guys youth football coaches point to and say, “Do it like he does it.”

Then someone sparks a joint and things changed.

Coach Coury’s Code Of Conduct

The city of Lake Oswego feels like a special place with a namesake body of water, surrounding hills, and fabulous houses. From the outside it looks like a beautiful destination for anyone with enough scratch to buy into the dream.

Even the high school, located on Country Club Road, has the vibe of ‘we look good, feel good, and we’re smart.’

But don’t kid yourself about Lake Oswego. It’s no different than Klamath Falls, Coos Bay, or even Crenshaw Ave. in south central LA.

The Lake Oswego Lakers know what it means to get down and dirty. You don’t win as many football games as they have and still keep your soft collar popped. These guys play for keeps. They know the way to the top and they want to be there again.

By the time they’re seniors, the players have spent more time in the weight room than a tanning booth. Football studs identify themselves by their wins and losses, no other stats matter. These guys are no different, except for one minor detail.

Ball players at LO sign a conduct pledge with the coach. He lives up to his end, they live up to theirs.

You Get Better By Doing Hard Things The Right Way

A big part of growing up happened after those ten seniors smoked a joint, which must have been the size of a Cuban cigar.

The coaches got a whiff of the chronic that night and let it ride until the next day. No sense rousting a bunch of loaded guys in the woods.

When they asked the players who toked up to stand up the next morning, twenty feet hit the ground. So did the Lakers’ season.

The guys stood up. They took responsibility for their actions. No finger pointing, no accusations, just accountability.

Talk about a teaching moment in high school.

They knew all about the conduct contract. They knew what the coach would do. And they know they wouldn’t get hazed by their teammates since they are seniors.

Four game suspension, in-school suspension, community service, then their first game back against the Tualatin Timberwolves on September 26th. They can still practice with the team, just not play. By the time the Tualatin game rolls around they’ll have a better picture of their last season.

Rules To Follow Or Rules To Break

Is this fair punishment for weed in an era of medicinal marijuana with pictures of the plant on the covers of responsible publications? Is it fair when a measure for recreational marijuana is up for a vote?

To all who subscribe to the idea of dumb jocks do dumb things: when you sign a pledge to live up to the standards of an elite program, your behavior must be elite.

The coaches could have visited the kids on the stoner circle and puffed away with them, explaining how rules were meant for little people, then swept it all under the rug.

Instead, the players won’t play in the early season, and after the season they’ll have to answer recruiters’ questions about their character. This is the gift Coach Steve Coury handed them. Ten players have a bond the others don’t, and they will overcome the problems they share. Will they do it on the football field?

At least nine of the ten will. One has already quit the team, according to the Oregonian.

“This will be very impactful,” Coury said. “I think it will impact kids that weren’t even involved that were a part of the team. It will impact hopefully the decision making. It will impact leadership and standing up for what’s right, and not caving in to peer pressure.”

To Be One Of The Guys You Have To Be A Man First

To any players who quit: Change you mind and rejoin the team, son. Your actions are in full view of your former teammates, your current teammates, your youth coaches, and every kid who ever looked up to you. This isn’t the time to hide out, it’s time to man the heck up.

You made a mistake? You hung with the wrong crowd? Show you’re a difference maker by making a difference, not running away. You’re a Lake Oswego Laker, that’s what you earned. You also earned a four game suspension, the same as the other guys who didn’t quit.

Be a winner and stick to your pledge. Show the little footballers how to take a hit and come back. You don’t lay down on the field, why lay down in real life? Ask Coach Coury for your helmet back. Ask your teammates for forgiveness. Then go out and crush the opposition. That’s what football players do. They don’t quit when it gets tough.

Sports have a way of sorting people out. Some get good breaks, some get bad breaks. Quit football when you’re too hurt to continue, not when your feelings get hurt. That’s the name of that game.

Then go thank your coach for showing you what men do instead of weaseling out of a conduct contract when it’s inconvenient.

Prediction: Lake Oswego Lakers in the state final.

Part Two: Don’t Be A Quitter.







About David Gillaspie


  1. Alex Paul says:

    I had a friend get kicked off our high school basketball team for drinking. What a stupid thing to do both back then and now for these football players.

    They shouldn’t have gone out for the team if they can’t obey the rules. On the other hand, given our society today, the Oregonian endorsed legalizing recreational marijuana today, can you blame these kids for thinking it is no big deal to smoke?

    Maybe the team’s code of conduct should just read, if you’re convicted of a felony during the season, you’re off the team. Until proven guilty in a court of law, we will assume you are innocent. Maybe the bar is just being set too high? I feel bad these guys can’t play. Senior year won’t come again!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Good call Alex. How fired up with the Lakers be their first game back against Tualatin? They’ve got a bond for life with this event, and they’ll check each other with, “Remember what Coach Coury said.”

      More of us ought to have a memory, a reminder, like that.

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