The Seahawks’ cornerback had just purchased a digital camera so he can take pictures during an Armed Forces Entertainment Tour. Lewis was practicing this week by taking pictures of teammates, and he even approached team photographer Corky Trewin in the cafeteria at Virginia Mason Athletic Center to get a few pointers before he leaves Saturday for the two-week tour of military locations in Kosovo, Bahrain and Djibouti.
“When they asked me, I was just like, ‘Who me? Out of everybody, you want me?’ ” Lewis said. “Then, I was like, ‘OK, cool.’ So I jumped at the opportunity to go to a place I’ve never been and to meet some people that you don’t get to interact with face-to-face normally – the troops. So I think it’s going to be a good outing, and I’m excited.”
The Sea Gals’ eight-member show group, led by director Sherri Thompson, also is making the trip – which will take them to four military sites in 10 days. The Sea Gals have made these types of trips before. But this is a new adventure for Lewis.
“I have no idea what to expect,” said Lewis, who was selected the team’s Man of the Year in 2010 for his off-field contributions in the community.
That’s where Sea Gal Stephanie can help Lewis, well, focus on the upcoming adventure.
“I would just tell him, ‘Roll with the punches,’ Stephanie said. “Because anything can happen.”
She knows, because Stephanie also went on the AFE tour last year. But this one will be unique for the Sea Gals, as well.
“This tour is going to be a little bit different, because we’re going to where the soldiers are deployed,” she said.
Last year, the European tour took the Sea Gals to the military bases where the soldiers were stationed. This year, they’ll visit Camp Bondsteel and Film City in Kosovo, as well as deployment posts in Bahrain and Djibouti.
“Last time, it felt a lot like we were just traveling to Fort Lewis,” Stephanie said. “This time, I know a little bit of what to expect – as far as the turnout and what are fans are like. But I know in Kosovo, we will be staying in huts. So that’s going to be new and exciting.”
Accompanying Lewis, Thompson and Stephanie R. will be the other members of the Sea Gals’ show group – Stephanie S., Lindsay, Heidi, Nicole, Courtney, Laura and Olivia. They will entertain the troops, while Lewis is expected to just be himself – outgoing, engaging and up to the challenge.
“I just look at it as another opportunity for me to build relationships with whomever it is I come in contact with,” Lewis said. “This is a chance to go out and meet the troops who fight for freedom, as we enjoy the luxuries of life. So I’m very thankful to be selected to go on such a trip.”
As are the Sea Gals, even though all eight of them have made other trips to China, Guam, Germany and the United Kingdom.
“We’ve kind of been all over the world, but this is actually the Sea Gals first time making a trip in the Middle East area, and we’re going to the only base in Africa,” Stephanie said.
While the destinations are new, the purpose isn’t. They will be there to bring a slice of “home” to the soldiers who are far from home.
“It’s really exciting, and it’s different for us,” Stephanie said. “When you’re at a Seahawks game, although we have fans there, they’re there for the Seahawks game and we’re on the sidelines adding to the game. On this tour, people come just to see us. So we’re the show.”
And it will be up to Lewis to add to the show, by thanking those who tackle some thankless tasks.
“I know that we all have a certain role to play in life and mine definitely wasn’t to be out there in fatigues fighting for Uncle Sam,” he said with a smile. “So I’m very thankful for those who are doing that – for all of us. I’m just excited for the opportunity. I’m ready to take on any challenge that awaits me.”
And also ready to chronicle the adventure in pictures.