I can't remember exactly how it started, but it began during the 2017 football season. The scoreboard sounded the horn, signaling halftime. The Woodinville Falcons walked across the Pop Keeney field and entered the locker room. I filtered into the room with them, and took my usual seat upon one of the training tables off to the side.
The first few minutes were pretty quiet. Players had time to themselves. Many donned headphones and listened to music, while staring at the floor. Those who were banged up or bleeding searched out the trainer. Before long, assistant coaches would enter the room and begin with noisy halftime adjustments.
Amid all that, assistant coach Ronald Jones worked his way around the room. He was passing something, perhaps hand warmers, to those requesting them. To cap it off, he hauled out a big bag of candy for any assistant coaches that wanted some. A Japanese candy called Hi-Chew. Their official slogan says they're "The Sweetest, Fruity, Chewy Treat!"
Jones walked over to the training table where I sat. He offered a fist bump and an orange flavored Hi-Chew.
Woodinville went on to win the game. Afterwards, I was wrapping up my interview with head coach Wayne Maxwell. Jones walked past and credited the win with the fact that he had given me the Hi-Chew.
And so began this little tradition. Over the next three years, the Falcons went 33-4 whenever Jones gave me the candy. The one time we failed to do the hand-off, Woodinville lost. That might've been my fault, as I did not accompany the team to the locker room at halftime, per usual.
During much of the 2019 season, I started eating "Keto". Every week, Jones made his way around the locker room, before handing me a Hi-Chew. Every week I thanked him and slipped it into my pocket, with it remaining ensconced in its colorful wrapper. As the season wore one, the Falcons kept racking up the wins. Meanwhile at my condo, a small pile of Hi-Chews steadily accumulated on the end table in my living room.
To date, the last Hi-Chew I received was last December during the state semifinal game against Bothell. I was in a bit of a funk, as I had been let go by the Woodinville Weekly. If the Falcons lost that semifinal game, it would presumably be the last time I covered Woodinville football. That game felt weird from the opening kickoff. Surprisingly, the Falcons struggled to run the ball and quickly fell behind.
At halftime, Jones handed me a Hi-Chew. I said, "Hey Ron, the way things are going, you might want to give me two!" He handed me another, but it was to no avail. Bothell won 31-21, and Woodinville's season was over.
But with the advent of this website, I'll live to report on the Falcons another day, and continue to receive that halftime fist bump and Hi-Chew.