“I knew I was going there since I was pretty much born,” said Laney Erickson, a fifth-generation Cougar. Her destiny was seemingly predetermined.
When the time came for Erickson to deliberate on her college options, there was one choice that stood head and shoulders above the rest—Washington State University. Not only was it close to home, but also the familial ties that ran deep in her family made it one of her easiest, and best, decisions.
Erickson grew up attending football games at WSU and hearing stories of her family’s days attending the university. Cougar merchandise of all kinds was displayed around her house, from towels to chairs to cups.
WSU’s indelible presence within the Erickson family is undeniable, spanning multiple generations. Erickson’s sister, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and even great-great-grandparents proudly bore the title of WSU alumni. Furthermore, both sets of aunts and uncles joyously identify themselves as devoted Cougs. The legacy of attending WSU runs deep within their bloodline, transcending mere tradition.
The experiences and stories shared by her family members further solidified Erickson’s desire to attend WSU. Everyone talked about the highlights of the WSU community. Tales of enduring friendships and the boundless joy experienced during their time in Pullman evoked within her an intense longing to partake in the same remarkable journey.
“Each one of my family members found their spouses at WSU, even my sister. And my grandparents got married and had my mom in Pullman. Before that, my great-grandparents met each other there,” Erickson said.
It was clear that the small town brought people together in a way that many colleges cannot offer, and the spirit of being a Cougar was not something taken lightly by students. The close-knit community drew Erickson in.
“My mom has a group of six friends that she does yearly girl trips with, and that made me want to have the same. As for my dad, he and his college friends meet up for WSU games a couple times a year and even park their RV tailgates together,” she said.
Erickson attended many sporting or Cougar-related events growing up, where she got to meet all her parents’ college friends. This led to her hearing a plethora of stories from dorm days, date dashes, sorority sisterhood events, and tales of Butch T. Cougar.
Her parents’ college friends became second parents; from how much she was able to see and have fun with them, it was clear that Pullman brought them all together in the best way for reunions.
This led Erickson to rush her freshman year and join the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, where she created those friendships for herself. She was encouraged to join a club or sorority by myriad family members who were all members of Greek life.
“Squeezing them tight, and never letting go, they make Pullman a whole lot of a better place,” Erickson said about friends made.
What sets WSU apart from other universities are the unparalleled passion and pride that come with being a Cougar. The sense of belonging within the WSU community is remarkable. Whether it’s a random encounter on the street or a full-blown conversation, the simple phrase “go Cougs” connects Cougars from all walks of life. This unique bond creates a tight-knit community that is truly special.
“The sense of community when you first visit WSU is overwhelming. Because in a small town, sometimes community is the best thing you can have,” Erickson said.
When Erickson first set foot on campus, she was immediately struck by the overwhelming feeling of togetherness. In a small town like Pullman, community becomes an essential part of daily life. At WSU, it’s not just about attending classes and pursuing degrees; it’s about forming meaningful connections and building lifelong relationships.
To anyone considering attending WSU, Erickson’s advice is simple: become a Coug!
“These years will be some of the best of your life, and there is no better place to spend them than in Pullman. Embrace the vibrant community, immerse yourself in the spirit of WSU, and cherish the moments that will shape your future. And if you have the opportunity, continue the tradition of WSU attendance in your family. Encourage your children or other family members to experience the same joyful moments and forge their own lifelong connections,” she said.
“I definitely want to continue the tradition of WSU attendance in my family so that they can have the same joyful experiences as I have and all the family members have had before them,” Erickson said.
For the Erickson family, this cherished tradition has become a cherished reality, forever binding them to their beloved alma mater. As a Cougar, you become part of an illustrious legacy and a network of individuals who share an unbreakable bond. So proudly adorn yourself in crimson and gray, exclaim “go Cougs” with unwavering pride. The wheat fields and brick buildings hold a sense of home for all.
Laney Erickson with her mom and sister (left), Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house (top middle) Erickson with her mom, dad, and siblings (top right), Erickson with her grandparents (bottom right).
Laney Erickson’s sister graduated in 2020. Here are some clips from the Daily Evergreen during her years attending Washington State University.
Erickson’s parents graduated in 1992. Here are some clips from the Daily Evergreen during their years attending WSU.
Erickson’s grandparents graduated in 1970. Here are some clips from the Daily Evergreen during their years attending WSU.
Erickson’s great-grandparents graduated in 1934. Here are some clips from the Daily Evergreen during their years attending WSU.
Erickson’s great-great-grandparents graduated in 1910. Here are some clips from the Daily Evergreen during their years attending WSU.