SOU has provided lasting memories of football and friendships for four members of the tight-knit Searle family. Sport phenoms and Raider Hall of Fame brothers Sammy (class of 1989), David (1992) and Ted “Baba” Searle (1989) each agree that their time at SOU helped shape them as the men they are today and led to lifelong friendships and an ongoing connection to the university.
“From my first day, it was incredible,” Sam said. “The people there, the staff, teachers and students were so kind and supportive, and I formed relationships that continue to this day.”
Sam said he was thrilled when his son Taylor (2015) decided to attend SOU and play football.
“I was so happy, knowing that he would find the same kind of support and friendship that my brothers and I had,” Sam said.
Even though he heard all the stories about SOU from his family, Taylor said he was still surprised at the easy camaraderie he felt from classmates and teammates from the beginning.
“Initially, I wanted to do my own thing and go somewhere different, but when I visited SOU, I just fell in love with the place,” Taylor said. “With the football team, it was an instant connection, like you already have good friends before you even take your first class.”
Sam was the first of the family to attend SOU after a friend suggested he check it out.
“Coming from Hawaii, I wasn’t expecting to be so moved by the natural beauty of the campus and the town, but it is really a beautiful place and I loved everything about it,” he said.
His brother, Ted, soon followed.
“Sam and I were really close, and when he went I knew I wanted to go there as well,” he said. “It was wonderful. We had a great group of guys on the team and a supportive community.”
Ted now lives near Portland, where he is vice president of operations at International Wood Products.
“The work ethic and the relationships our team and classmates built with one another stayed with us,” he said. “We took care of each other, from football games, to homework, to firing up the grill on weekends.”
Sam and Ted were considered to be among the Raiders’ best defensive players during their time at SOU. Sam garnered attention for his 18 career interceptions – ranking third in team history – which helped win many games.
Ted was named Columbia Football Association Player of the Year and earned NAIA All-America honors after totaling 130 tackles before he left school to raise a family. He finished his college career with the second-most tackles in program history, at the time.
Their younger brother David joined SOU and the Raiders in 1989.
“I had played at the University of Hawaii my freshman year, but I wanted the opportunity to play ball with my brothers,” he said. “It was by far some of the best times. I have some really fond memories.”
David made the team’s top five in nearly every passing and total offense category over his three years as a Raider. He earned consecutive all-conference honors and became the first SOU quarterback to throw for more than 500 yards in a game. He was the season record-holder in passing yards, touchdowns and total offense when he graduated with a degree in communication.
“It’s fun to look back on our experiences at SOU and to share our stories with our children,” David said. “It’s great that Taylor got to go there, and it’s fantastic to think we have a family history with SOU.”