ARLINGTON – Like many of us who grew up in Western Washington, Michael Van Beek of Arlington is a fan of the University of Washington Huskies.
But when it came time to decide where he wanted to play football, the young man decided to head east.
“I got older and wiser; I don’t like the city,” he said.
He had a scholarship offer to play at Central Washington, but he decided instead to be a “preferred walk-on” at Washington State University.
He explained that status means he’s on the team, “just without the money.”
Van Beek turned down CWU because he always wanted to Division 1. And Pullman just felt right.
“It’s an overall feeling I have,” he said. “I won’t have to adjust” too much to that way of life.
Van Beek plans to head there after high school graduation for summer school, where he will take a few classes and workout in the weight room and attend meetings with the team. The coaches plan for him to redshirt next year. He’s been told he can earn a scholarship if he outplays others in practice.
Van Beek, 6-foot-3 and 282 pounds, received post-season honors for his line play on both offense and defense. He’s been told he’s better at offense, but WSU likes him on defense. Van Beek, who plans to major in business, said he’s open to either.
His dad, Tom, said he’s glad his son picked WSU.
“I’ve been a Cougar fan all my life. They’re the underdogs,” he said. And, “He’s more of a country person than a city slicker.”
He said ever since his son’s first Game Day visit to Pullman, he’s dreamed of playing, “Big time TV football.”
Van Beek’s mom, Tracy, said at the Letter of Intent day signing at Britt’s Sports Cards that she didn’t want him to play football.
“I tried so hard to get him not to play football,” she said, adding she recalls at age 6 him saying he wanted to play in college.
She said it hasn’t been easy, as he’s had to deal with some injuries. She added his coaches share in his success for “building him into who he is today.”
Asked if his son has any aspirations of playing pro ball, Tom smiled and said, “One step at a time.”
He added the odds of playing college football are slim, and the “odds of going pro are slimmer.”