Aug. 28, 2006
The Eastern Washington University Football team is dedicating this week's game against Oregon State in the memory of long-time Cheney, Wash., High School head coach and former OSU football player Tom Oswald. Kickoff Thursday (Aug. 31) is 7:10 p.m. at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.
Oswald passed away on Aug. 4 after a battle with cancer. He won 165 games in 25 years in Cheney after playing for OSU in 1970-71. Eastern will wear stickers on their helmets with the initials "T.O." and Tom's family will be attendance at the game.
His son Drew, who lettered for EWU in 2004, will serve as an honorary captain for the Eagles. Drew will be joined in Corvallis by his mother Susan, his sisters Sarah and Amy and his brother-in-law Shane Kernen.
"We wanted to do something to honor Tom for this game since he was a player at Oregon State and such a huge part of our community and Eastern for so many years," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff. "I know he was looking forward to possibly attending this game. He'll be attending it a little differently, but honoring him is the least we can do as a program."
Oswald graduated from Cheney High School in 1967, then played at Spokane Falls Community College before transferring to OSU. He played for Dee Andros, who directed the Beavers to records of 6-5 and 5-6 while Oswald was there.
After a year as a graduate assistant coach at Oregon State, he spent two seasons as a coach in Grant's Pass, Ore., where he met Susan. After one year as a graduate assistant at Illinois and two seasons as head coach at Kennewick, Wash., High School, Oswald returned to Cheney as head coach in 1977.
He compiled a 167-90-7 career record in 27 seasons as a high school coach. His Cheney teams made the playoffs a dozen times and played in state championship games in 1988 and 1989. Among the players he coached were Steve Emtman, a first-round NFL draft choice in 1992, and veteran NFL offensive lineman Rick DeMulling.
One of his favorite sayings and keys to his success was: "Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Oswald and Wulff worked together at many Eastern summer football camps over the years. In 2004, when Drew was playing for the Eagles, Tom attended nearly every Eastern game and practice despite regular cancer treatments. Wulff asked him to give the weekly Friday night pre-game speech to the team the night before Eastern knocked off No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois in the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.
"He was a great friend of mine for the 14 years I've been here," added Wulff, who came to EWU as a volunteer coach in the fall of 1993. "He helped me out a lot as a coach. Tom was always positive and was a huge supporter of Eastern Football. He and his family have been great for the community."