Former Mountain View HS football star, now a captain in the Army National Guard, appreciates gesture from man who returned his Husky jersey
There is a picture of Ben Huebschman, in his No. 14 University of Washington uniform, standing on the sideline with the huge Seattle crowd in the background.
“Every game was wild,” he said of that experience.
He got to wear the jersey, walk the sideline for a few games as a walk-on quarterback in the fall of 2003.
But a whole lot of pride. He practiced and wore the uniform of his favorite Pac-10 football team.
He made it.
In 2001 and 2002, Huebschman helped Mountain View — with its unheard-of-back-then-pass-happy offense — to back-to-back state semifinal appearances, the first time a Clark County high school team had accomplished that feat. He graduated in the Class of 2003, then headed to Seattle.
His high school coach used that picture to motivate younger players.
“The coolest picture ever!,” Mike Woodward wrote on a copy of that photo. “Our very own Hibby suited-up @ Husky Stadium.”
It was one memorable season for “Hibby” before he left the Huskies for Western Washington University and a better opportunity to play.
Still, his heart never left UDub.
Oh, and his jerseys. Those were left behind, as well.
Some 17 years later, Huebschman is now Capt. Huebschman in the Army National Guard, living in Lacey, working as an active guard full-time servicemember.
Earlier this fall, the Army captain got to put on a Husky jersey again. His old white jersey. All due to a family of Husky fans who loved the number 14, who had obtained that jersey years ago, and instead of throwing it out, the owner went on a quest to find Huebschman.
“He’s the nicest guy in the world,” Huebschman said of Chris Traynor, the man who had Ben’s jersey. “I even offered to pay. He said no way.”
“No, man, it’s your jersey,” Traynor told Huebschman.
In a normal year, Traynor said he would have driven to Lacey to give the jersey to Huebschman over a beer. With COVID, Traynor instead just shipped the jersey to him.
“It got to me in a couple of days,” Huebschman said. “It really looks nice, too.”
Traynor, who played quarterback for Eastside Catholic, and his dad are diehard Husky fans. When Traynor was a sophomore in high school, he and his dad went to a spring event for the Huskies. There was a sale of older football equipment and jerseys. Traynor’s dad bought the No. 14 because that was his son’s number.
Just so happened, it was the No. 14 with Huebschman’s name on it.
“I wasn’t quite sure who Ben was at the time,” Chris Traynor acknowledged.
But he loved having that No. 14, and the family kept that jersey for years, even after Traynor joined the Army.
Last year, when he got out of the Army, his mother found a box of clothes and asked her son if there was anything there he wanted to keep. Chris saw the No. 14 jersey.
It turned out Traynor had a friend who played for UW who also had a jersey returned to him years later. Traynor knew how appreciative his friend was for getting it back. He figured this Huebschman guy, whoever he was, would want his jersey, as well.
Traynor reached out to Ryland Spencer of Cascadia Preps, who knows just about every high school football player of note in the state for the past 10 years or so. But not necessarily all the players before then. Spencer did not know who Huebschman was, but he had another source he could call.
Yes, that would be yours truly. My first two football seasons as a high school sports reporter in Clark County were in 2001 and 2002, watching Mountain View football soar to new heights. I knew getting a hold of Huebschman, all these years later, would take one, maybe two phone calls/texts.
Sure enough, the connection was made.
Traynor and Huebschman talked, exchanged contact information, and now Huebschman has that No. 14 in his possession.
“I had no idea,” Huebschman said of the jerseys even being available. “I thought they took the last names off. It’s really interesting.”
The jersey itself is special. But Huebschman is more impressed with Traynor’s actions.
“The act of kindness was the cooler thing,” Huebschman said. “To go that length to find me was pretty cool.”
The jersey brought back a lot of memories for Huebschman at Washington.
“It’s a massive program. Great school. Great facilities. Really great coaches. You get a good mixture of people. A lot of walk-ons, a lot of full-scholarship guys. It was really cool to be a part of something that big,” Huebschman said.
Still, he knew the odds were against him in terms of ever playing quarterback for the Huskies. He transferred to Western Washington.
“I had a great time up there,” he said of Bellingham.
Still, nothing compares to being on the field, even if he did not play, in front of more than 70,000 fans. Huebschman appreciates every moment he was with the Huskies.
In high school, Huebschman and the Thunder made state-wide headlines with their offense. They were in shotgun, throwing the ball 30, 40, sometimes more than 50 times a game. There are a lot of programs who air it out like that now, but back then? It was pretty much Mountain View.
Huebschman was the Class 4A state Player of the Year as a senior, throwing 36 touchdown passes and for more than 3,600 yards.
Back in 1995, Ridgefield won a small school state title and Evergreen made the semifinals. Then nothing for Clark County for six years until Mountain View went to back-to-back semifinals.
Since then, Clark County has had one three-year gap between semifinal appearances. And this decade has seen state championships from Camas and Hockinson (twice each) and Union.
“At the time, you don’t realize it,” Huebschman said. “Things really did change after that.”
Southwest Washington became a football power.
Football, Huebschman said, gave him an identity.
“It helped me make more friends. It was a really special time in my life,” he said. “You create those bonds with friends you’ll always have. You carry it with you the rest of your life.”
After college, Huebschman was a paramedic for two years in Portland before accepting an opportunity to go full time with the Army National Guard.
Capt. Huebschman wears a uniform that means a lot to him every day.
And at home, now, he can look at a special jersey from years ago, bringing back memories of a special time, on the sideline with the University of Washington football team, at Husky Stadium.