Phillipsâ€™ passion for the Axe runs deepBy Andrew Phillips November 16, 2011, 5:09 pm
Editor’s note: Andrew Phillips was a standout offensive guard at Stanford, starting 38 games for the Cardinal. Twice, the Maryland native was named honorable mention All-Pac-10. He graduated last year with a degree in the classics. It was not an easy year for Phillips, whose father, William, died in a floatplane crash last August 9 in Alaska on a fishing trip, along with Alaska senator Ted Stevens and former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe. One of the four survivors was Andrew Phillips’ younger brother Willy, 13. Andrew, the oldest of four sons, had just finished his first day of fall training camp when he received news of the crash and immediately flew to Alaska to be with Willy. He helped him recuperate and rejoined Stanford in time for its season opener against Sacramento State, where his teammates named him an honorary captain as a tribute to his father, a former football player at the University of Evansville. Andrew Phillips is now working on his master's degree at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce. He played in four Big Games.
-By Andrew Phillips
As a Stanford student-athlete, your life is broken into routines. Everything is regimented: get up, go to class, go to meetings, go to practice, study. Rinse and repeat. The cyclical nature of life on the Farm can be both a burden and a haven for different types of people. And though the structure of my day might have changed from time to time, there were certain things that stuck with me, familiar habits that I kept for years. I don’t think I missed a burrito Thursday at Jimmy V’s from my sophomore year onward, and my favorite place to study was a secluded desk next to a window on the upper floors of the stacks in Green Library. It’s these little things that I now miss the most about my Stanford years, the little details that made my school what it was to me individually.
However, there is one routine that I miss particularly this week. Every Friday during the season I left our walk-through, showered, and long before the rest of the team I’d walk from the locker room across the basketball court in the center of the Arillaga Family Sports Center out to the waiting bus. But before I got to the bus I’d walk by the display case where the Stanford Axe is kept. Sometimes I gave it a quick tap of recognition, other times I’d stop and read the display case a little bit, but every Friday of every season I kept this routine. Some years the Axe was there, shining beautifully in its case, a reminder not only of the tradition of our program but of the victory from the previous year. Other years it wasn’t there, a cardboard picture in its place instead, and I’d make a quick promise to myself to do everything I could to bring it back where it belongs. As my career carried on many things changed; coaches came and went, and classes of seniors made their tearful goodbyes, but my personal tradition stayed constant. The Axe reminded me on a weekly basis just how lucky I was to be playing college football. As I watch my team prepare this week for another opportunity for greatness, I can’t help but be reminded of all the times I walked by that display case and was inspired by the history of my program. It’s one of those little moments I’ll cherish forever about Stanford.
I may not be a student-athlete anymore, and I will never again go through my little tradition of walking by the Axe. But I do know that there are 105 guys on the team now who will walk by that display case on Friday afternoon. This week more than ever, they will have it in their hearts just as I did to keep the Axe where it belongs. The Axe is more than a symbol of a forgotten past, or a cheap metaphor for a simple game. It’s a call to greatness. A challenge. A dream. The Axe is Stanford Football, and it’s not going anywhere.
Stanford University Class of 2010