Bronco Beat

Boise State football and Table Rock: One icon helping the other

Whether they have spent most of their lives here, or sometimes just a few years for college, Table Rock holds a special place to many in the Treasure Valley, including the Boise State football team.

Coach Bryan Harsin grew up in Boise, played at Boise State, and recognizes Table Rock as one of his home city’s most important landmarks. It took on extra significance 17 years ago after the death of teammate Paul Reyna, a Californian who considered the cross atop Table Rock a sign he belonged at Boise State.

Senior offensive tackle Mario Yakoo hikes it every Saturday in the offseason, often roping in other Broncos to join him.

When Table Rock and the area around it was devastated by the human-caused fire in the early hours of June 30, it struck a chord with the team, especially Yakoo. On Friday, he and two dozen other players covered up graffiti and cleaned up trash for more than an hour atop Table Rock.

“We want to show everybody in Boise we care, come together as a team and help out,” said Yakoo, who is from San Diego. “To me, it’s a symbol. It’s a mountain, we’re in the Mountain West. I had a hashtag on Twitter that said ‘climb the mountain, win the Mountain.’

“It made perfect sense to come out here and help.”

The fire, which burned more than 2,500 acres, has led to a difficult cleanup effort, but support from the the team has impressed those who care for the land.

“It’s just amazing. We were overwhelmed by how many of them wanted to help,” Amber Beierle of the Idaho Historical Society said. “We can’t do what we do without volunteers, so to have all these guys come out, rally around the community, it means so much.”

Armed with neutral-colored spray cans and paints to cover up the graffiti, plus rakes, screens and bags for trash, the Broncos bonded a little differently Friday. Yakoo said Associate Athletic Director for Football Brad Larrondo approached him with the idea, and he found interested players.

There was only enough equipment for 25 players, and there were more volunteers than spots.

“They all rushed over to be one of the 25 guys,” Harsin said.

The Broncos often hike to the top of Table Rock as a team near the end of fall camp in August. Harsin said once the freshmen get comfortable, after arriving on campus last week, he hopes to give them a chance to volunteer.

Summer often provides opportunities for the team to get closer, and turning a negative event into a positive exercise in team building is a prime example of what the Broncos want to accomplish in the offseason.

“It’s a big deal for us,” said redshirt freshman offensive tackle John Molchon of Las Vegas. “We form that bond when we hike up here, and when we’re up here trying to do what we can after the fire.”

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Volunteers who wish to help aid in the cleanup efforts at Table Rock can call the Idaho Historical Society at 208-334-2682.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_southorn