Sports

Falcons’ Rob Knight returns from the wilderness

South Whidbey’s Rob Knight will enter Pacific Lutheran University in the fall where he plans to get his teaching credentials and play football. The road to college hasn’t been easy for Knight, however. - Jeff VanDerford / The Record
South Whidbey’s Rob Knight will enter Pacific Lutheran University in the fall where he plans to get his teaching credentials and play football. The road to college hasn’t been easy for Knight, however.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Record

BAYVIEW — Rob Knight, star Falcon football player and 2007 graduate of South Whidbey High School, could be the poster child for the classic sports comeback story.

In the spring of 2005 Knight was a mess. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd, making bad decisions, getting in trouble and heading toward a lifetime of chronic lousy behavior.

“I had no respect, for myself or others,” Knight recalled.

“Though I loved football, there wasn’t much else I took seriously.”

Then his dad, Bruce Knight, said, “Enough.”

That summer, Knight attended the Red Cliff Wilderness Therapy camp in Utah where he was subjected to a grueling regimen designed to restore that respect. When young people arrive at the camp, their system of avoidance is usually based on an attitude of which they expect everyone around them to compensate for their own lack of responsibility.

It was two months of basic outdoor living and enforced rules designed to change behaviors.

“It was a hard experience, pretty much 24/7 out in the wilds where I had to deal with who I was and what I wanted to become,” Knight said.

His father recalled what happened next.

“He graduated, but back on South Whidbey he continued to struggle in the classroom, made the same poor choices and ended up ‘earning’ enrollment in the Discovery Academy, a therapeutic boarding school in Provo, Utah to work on straightening things out,” Bruce Knight said.

With solid support from parents, fellow Falcon teammates, teachers and school staff, Knight figured out some key academic, motivational and directional issues and successfully completed requirements from the academy in time to begin his senior year at South Whidbey.

Knight credits Falcon football coach Mark Hodson for supporting him through the journey and helping him set short-term goals to reach long-term success.

“Whenever someone asks me about the value of high school football, I will tell them the story of Rob Knight,” Hodson said.

Knight also credits Athletic Director John Patton and former Principal Mike Johnson with incredible patience and support.

Knight’s passion for football was his motivation to overcome his challenges and succeed at whatever task was placed before him.

In the 2006 football season, Knight carried the ball 246 times for more than 1,500 yards. His offensive heroics were 70 percent of the Falcons’ total yardage that year, and he was named offensive Most Valuable Player by the Cascade Conference.

Knight’s successful football season and moderate academic success led him to consider attending college and playing football at the next level. He came very close to being accepted at Pacific Lutheran University for the 2007 fall semester, but fell short academically.

He was determined to get there, regardless.

“If I set a goal, I know I can accomplish it with hard work,” Knight said.

Bottom line? Knight took the necessary classes at Skagit Valley College during the past year, achieved the required grade point average for admission to PLU and will start the fall semester on Sept. 4.

He plans to study for a degree in sports, get his teaching credentials and become a high school coach himself someday.

To get ready for the school’s football program, Knight and his dad found the perfect way to prepare.

“In January this year, we found out about the amazing number of semi-professional teams that thrive in the Northwest that have in large part replaced the community college football programs that were cut nearly a decade ago in many western states,” Bruce Knight said.

Rob Knight joined the Whatcom County Raiders, who were last year’s Cascade League Champions.

With determined coaching by Brian Young and technical mentoring by fellow running back Jordan Carey, Knight has taken his game to the next level and currently shares the conference leading rushing honors with Carey.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2 both young men will play for the conference title and lead rushing award at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium.

Knight’s story illustrates determination, community and school support and the personal triumph of the will.

Adding one more chapter to Knight’s resurrection: as a result of his performance with the Raiders, he has been invited to play for Team USA in an exhibition game in Mexico City on Aug. 15. ESPN2 will be covering the game.

Although Team USA covers some of the costs of the trip, Knight will have a fundraising booth at the championship game Aug. 2 to get assistance with travel expenses.

Anyone wishing to help out can contact Knight at 360-914-0687.

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