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Ashland Daily Photo - A picture a day from beautiful Ashland, Southern Oregon USA in the Rogue Valley
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Bus of champions (and more)

bus drivers of champions cj and ean

@SOURaiders @SOU_Football

Today’s first photo requires a bit of explanation. These were the players’ bus drivers for the entire week. I took this at Tuesday’s practice as our bus drivers watched from the sidelines. That’s CJ on the left and Ean on the right. I asked them how it felt to be the bus drivers of the future NAIA Champions, and they smiled and said I should probably get a photo of them. All week long I asked them how the bus drivers of champions were doing. Perhaps this planted a seed in Ean’s head? More on this possibility below.

SOU football coaching staff national champion banner 2014 naia

The coaching staff at SOU is second to none. Although Coach Howard is not eligible for the NAIA Coach of Character Award, as he hasn’t been at SOU for five years yet, if NAIA officials could have witnessed everything he has done they would certainly make an exception.

I had the unique opportunity of standing on the opposing sidelines for seven of our games this year. I do this so that the SOU sidelines and crowds are in the background of most of my photos. Anyway, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the interactions between our players and coaching staff are very different than they are on other teams. The love, honor, and respect the SOU team has is incredible and a major contributing factor to the team’s success in my opinion.

Coach Howard gets the fact that coaching is about developing better people, better student athletes, and not just about how many TDs someone has. Of course, the former leads to the latter as demonstrated by this team.

sou football daytona drew gibson laurence calcagno

SOU football daytona cheer

SOU football daytona team in good light

SOU football daytona daniel breaux

Daniel Breaux with the sack

SOU football daytona dylan young

Dylan Young’s fourth catch of the evening would be his last as a Raider and the 159th during his two years in Ashland

SOU football daytona austin dodge gets on bus and take photo of trophy

Austin Dodge enters the bus after winning the championship and immediately takes photo of championship trophy sitting in Coach Howard’s seat

After the game everyone was in an absolute state of euphoria. We’ve all seen championship celebrations on TV. Sometimes you even get to experience them as a fan at the stadium. But to actually be there, with the players, takes things up several notches.

Back to my first point about our bus drivers…

I boarded Ean’s bus after the game. Spirits were high. As we pulled out of the stadium, without warning, Queen’s “We Will Rock You” pounded out of the stereo speakers, and the bus erupted into a celebration well beyond what I’ve witnessed before, anywhere.

I don’t know if Ean always does this, or if my constant reminders during the week that he was driving the future champions possibly sparked this idea in his head to make sure he had “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions” at the ready, but either way, thank you Ean for making a special moment that much more memorable for these guys.

P.S. He also hooked up Austin Dodge’s iPod to the bus’s stereo to play “Sweet Caroline” after Queen.

SOU football daytona austin dodge singing we are the champions

Austin Dodge singing Queen’s “We Are The Champions” on the bus after the game

SOU football daytona coach howard and grandson and trophy and hand in the air

Coach Howard may not have sung as much as the players, but he still enjoyed the moment with his well-deserved trophy

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