Haynes wears historical 44 number
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CWU football has the tradition to give the number 44 to the defensive captain and leader of the team. The jersey number 44 is given each year to the player on defense who shows toughness, discipline, tenacity and most importantly dedication.
Junior linebacker, Kevin Haynes is wearing number 44 this year.
Haynes graduated from Battle Ground High School in 2013, where he earned first team offense and defense his senior season; setting his high school single game rushing record of 316 yards. He was also four-year letterman for baseball and basketball.
Haynes redshirted his freshman year, and in 2014, he tied the team with five interceptions and lead the team with 99 tackles. In 2015, Haynes had 73 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble in just nine games. He earned First Team All-GNAC in 2014 and 2015.
“I wouldn’t say I see myself as more of a leader when wearing the number 44, but I know there’s a long line of great players [who] have come before me, and wanting to live up to their standards and expectations is definitely a driving force when representing them,” Haynes said. “The fact that people look up to you and expect your best when wearing the number 44 are the main things that separates me when wearing 44.”
The Wildcats are on a current four-game winning streak. The defense has been outstanding this year, ranked second in the GNAC in total defense allowing 335.6 yards per game. The history of Central Washington football is based on having a strong defense and punishing the opponents’ offense with vicious hits.
The tradition started in 2008 when the team decided to create a meaning behind a jersey number. They wanted to reward players who showed dedication and hard work. Mitch Reffett was the first player to wear 44, then it was passed to Buddy Wood.
Wood became a household name for the Wildcats after winning GNAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. After Woods’ amazing season, wearing the number 44 will always come with lots of expectations.
In 2010, Adam Bighill wore 44 and won GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. Bighill went on to play in the CFL for the British Columbia Lions.
After six seasons of this tradition, the number 44 had only been given to senior defensive players. In 2013, Tovar Sanchez, a junior linebacker, was given the number for his dedication and hard work. Sanchez is now the all-time sack leader for the Wildcats, setting the sack record against Western Oregon earlier this season.
“It meant a lot to me. The person who wears it has such a big impact on the program and they usually work the hardest,” Sanchez said.
“There is a little more spotlight on you and people look up to you because you are holding that number.”
Junior defensive lineman Nicholas Aumua said he looks up to the person wearing the number 44 each season he has been here.
“What separates me from others when given that number is my character on and off the field,” Aumua said. “The qualities the coaches look for is the core values we go by. If they see that in a person, then that’s the guy. Myself and others look up to the player wearing 44 because he is one of the leaders on the team to make us better.”
Players will always look for leadership from their defensive captain. The special number 44 is given to the player who shows dedication and hard work. Tovar Sanchez and Kevin Haynes were given the number as juniors, showing that the year in school isn’t a factor in the decision making for who was the number 44 .
“The way I see it, it goes to the best defensive player who exemplifies the qualities of a team leader and sacrificial servanthood,” senior wide receiver Jesse Zalk said.