Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener will make his first career start on Saturday against Hawaii, kicking off an eight-game 2020 schedule. He’ll make some throws, maybe hit a few big gainers and get an offense with a lot of potential into the end zone.
But those will not be the first plays a Haener has made at Bulldog Stadium.
“My dad grew up here and my parents actually met for the first time ever, started their relationship, in Bulldog Stadium,” Haener said in a Tuesday Zoom meeting. “Now I’m going to start my first game here on Saturday, so it’s pretty awesome.”
Haener’s father, Ryan, was back in town after graduating from UC Santa Barbara. His mother, Julie, now a news anchor on KTVU in the Bay Area, was working for KJEO-TV (now CBS47) as a weeknight anchor and health reporter.
“I think my dad and my mom had mutual friends and they all went to the Bulldog football game because, you know, obviously, why not? Great setting,” Haener said. “My parents happened to not really talk — I don’t think they really talked or interacted. But my dad kind of saw my mom for the first time and was like, ‘Who is that lady?’ They were like, ‘Oh, that’s Julie Haener, or Julie Hogan at the time, you’re never going to talk to her. Why are you going to go after her? She’s a news lady.’
“My dad was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ From there, he was asking around, asking who she was, what she did. The first time he sent something to her house, he sent her some flowers, he said, ‘Wow, what a smile.’ From that time on they started talking, getting to know each other. She actually had a boyfriend at the time, and it kind of ended up dissipating because he was in Washington and she was here, and then they kind of just gravitated toward each other and … then I came along.”
Haener is spot-on, said Ryan Haener, a Bullard High grad. “I was standing there talking to some friends and felt like someone was looking over in my direction and I looked over and I saw this cute blonde and we kind of made eye contact back and forth for several minutes,” he said.
“I asked a girlfriend at the time who was with me, ‘Who is that?’ They said, ‘That’s Julie Hogan. That’s the new news lady, News 47.’ I said, ‘Well, I think I’ll ask her out,’ and she started laughing at me. She said, ‘There’s no way, you’ll never ask her out …’”
Jake Haener grew up in Danville and went to Washington out of Monte Vista High. He transferred last fall and on Monday was named starter by first-year coach Kalen DeBoer.
That, obviously, went over well at home.
“It was crazy,” Haener said. “My mom was calling me back and forth, and we kind of had an idea last week of what was going on, so I’ve been talking to my parents and communicating with them what was coming and what was going to happen. So my mom was really excited, obviously, calling me everyday, actually calling me multiple times a day, I’m not exaggerating. She was worried, asking me these questions and my dad was kind of just like, ‘Hey, let the kid relax. Let him enjoy what’s going on right now and let him be with his teammates.’
“She’s really caring, my dad is, too, and they’re both really supportive. They wanted to know what was going on, so I told them that I’d call them every day and keep them in check with everything and let them know what was happening. They were really excited, really happy, and now, my dad was like, ‘It’s great, enjoy it for a day or two, but nothing matters if you don’t execute on Saturday.”
Kuwada writes for the Fresno Bee