Cody Habben finds success on UW line

February 8, 2011

By Melanie Coleman

Cody Habben

Football may rank among Cody Habben’s top priorities, but family always comes first.

“That’s one of the things we’re proud of,” Mike Habben said of his son. “Both our boys understand what family means.”

“We’re very close,” Habben added.

The family is so tight-knit, in fact, that when the 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive tackle for the University of Washington capped off his 2010 season with a Holiday Bowl victory against Nebraska, many of his family members were there to celebrate.

“We had over 20 people fly out from the Midwest to watch the game,” Mike Habben said.

Regardless of continuous family support, getting to a Holiday Bowl during his senior year, which Habben described as an “ultimate high,” was a process.

Along with his older brother Zach, the former all-state lineman at Skyline High School began his involvement with sports at a young age.

“Growing up, they did all the Little League things,” their dad said. “If it had to do with a ball or a bat, we were playing it.”

The road to football glory

Football entered the picture when Habben was in eighth grade, and in 2005 he led Skyline to a 35-21 win over Woodinville in the state championship game.

The next step was playing for a Pac-10 Conference team.

Habben arrived at the University of Washington in 2006, where he said he was required as a member of the football team to live in the Terry/Lander dorms during his freshman year at school. It was there that Habben met fellow newcomer and future star quarterback Jake Locker, and the two quickly cemented a friendship.

“We got to know each other and then from there sort of hit it off,” Habben said.

After their dues were paid in terms of living on campus, Habben and Locker, along with a core group of friends, rented a house. Though they have moved “quite a bit” over the years, Habben and Locker continue to room together.

“They have to move to get rid of all their junk,” Habben’s dad joked.

The close friendship with Locker and other teammates helped Habben stay positive over the years, even when the Huskies took some hits, including going 0-12 during the 2008 season.

Yet even in the face of adversity, there was never any remorse on Habben’s part.

“I never regretted my decision to come to the UW,” he said. “I’ve always loved it.”

In the wake of defeat, Habben said he grew as an individual.

“Having that season helped us build a lot as men,” he said.

Despite triumph or failure, Habben’s family continued to be his foundation, lending support when he needed it most.

“We never missed a game,” his mom Lisa Habben said.

Special relationships along the way

Personal growth for Habben also occurred off the playing field, as he continued work he started in high school, mentoring disadvantaged kids and making trips to Seattle Children’s on various occasions.

Out of these visits came a special friendship with young Husky football fan Kyle Roger, who was diagnosed with brain cancer.

According to Habben’s dad, both Locker and Habben took it upon themselves to spend time with Kyle up until his death a few years ago.

“He really enjoyed that experience, the stuff he did at Children’s, and working with other kids has been something he wants to do for the foreseeable future — help them out,” Habben said of his son.

Back on the field, Habben and the rest of his team looked to find their form and finish out their college careers strong.

The 2009 football season appeared to be more promising with the arrival of new Head Coach Steve Sarkisian.

“He brought a different mentality to the team, a different energy,” Habben’s dad said.

More influential to Habben, however, was offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto, who also came to the University of Washington in 2009.

“I think he’s one of the greatest coaches in the nation,” Habben said. “He’s truly a teacher of the game and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”

Hard work and dedication paid off, and the team was rewarded with a Dec. 30 win in San Diego at the Holiday Bowl.

“I had a great time playing with my friends,” Habben said. “It was an awesome way to go out with them.”

What’s next for Habben is uncertain.

Before exploring his dream of playing in the NFL, Habben appeared in the Eastham Energy College All Star Game on Jan. 23 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

He is training for an upcoming Pro Day in March, a type of supplemental draft for the NFL.

What is certain, though not surprising after getting to know Habben, is which team he would ideally like to play for, based almost solely on its proximity to his extended family.

“It would be Minnesota. It’s about three hours away from my grandparents down in Iowa,” he said.

On the Web

Get more information about athletes mentoring children at www.athletesforkids.org.

Melanie Coleman is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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