We Are 12 Stories
We Are 12 Stories
The Victory Parade
I been a 12 my whole life. since the recess schoolyard days where i would get teased for wearing a seahawks shirt. Back in those days in the 90's, it was the Cowboys, the 49ers, the Raiders, and Seattle? not so much. But man I was a diehard.
Fast forward to the Seattle Seahawks Victory Parade. One of the best days of my life. It was a very chilly day in downtown Seattle, and I found a spot in front of the mall on 5th avenue. By the time the Seahawks rolled by my area, the crowd starting pushing closer and closer to the street, mosh pit style. I could barely see over the people in front of me and I was so excited I figured it was the price I had to pay to see that Lombardi Trophy in real life.
Right next to me was a woman and her daughter, both very tiny, mom had to be 5'5" tops, and her daughter was even smaller. They both were dressed head to toe all Seahawks gear. the girl had paint on her face with a little 12.
And they both couldnt see. My heart sank. I felt so bad. you could see it on their concerned faces that they knew they both were simply not tall enough to see the parade. the mom was struggling trying to hold up her daughter on her own for her daughter see at least out of the two of them.
I immediately am brought back to my days as a kid where i rooted for the hawks every Sunday. I stood there thinking this poor little girl got all the way here, to be so close to see the Super Bowl winning hometown team, and now finding out the hard way they will not see much, only to hear the celebration going down on the street.
So I took a chance, not trying to freak them out, i ask her mom if its ok if I put her daughter on my shoulders so she can see better, and in return her daughter can record the Ducks rolling by with all the players using my cellphone. Her mom looked at me and cracked a smile sensing I'm coming from a good place, she then asks her daughter if her daughter is interested, and her daughter jumps up and down yelling "yes!" over and over! her mom looks at me and through the loud yelling and screaming of the crowd, motions a thank you with glossy eyes, knowing her daughter will get to experience something we all dreamed of growing up.
So I tell the girl the plan when the Ducks come, and she's excited and jumping up and down. Finally the Ducks roll up to us, the crowd is going crazy, and its really loud. I tell the girl on the count of three to jump and get on my shoulders. I can barely see over the crowd, and the crowd is pushing and swaying back and forth and the little girl is screaming with excitement and I can only hope she remembers to record it for me!
So after the whole team rolls through, I let her off my shoulders and the little girl gives me a huge hug and her mom gives me a hug as well with tears in her eyes thanking me over and over for letting her daughter get to see the Victory Parade. I tell them both no problem, we all say a parting "Go Hawks" to each other and they disappear in the crowd.
I barely got to see most of the Ducks rolling through, but I was so happy that little 12 will always remember she had a priceless view of our Super Bowl winning team!
During the football season, the Fullback Michael Robinson "Mike Rob" did this "Real Rob Report" which you could follow on Youtube. When Mike Rob posted his Victory Parade video, I closely watched the footage to where I knew where I was standing. At a certain point in his video I paused it to where I can see myself, and you can see that little girl on my shoulders holding my cellphone screaming her head off.
That was all I needed; a picture to show me the pure joy on her face. That picture means a lot to me, that the little stranger had a better experience with the Seahawks than I did at her young age. All I wanted to do was pass it forward.
I never got to know their names due to the hectic environment, but I wish them well, and hope they to pass it forward being Seahawks fans.
I moved to Seattle in 1999. First big city I ever lived in and embraced the local teams right away. Went to a few games. Then I was shocked to see I could buy season tickets for the first year at the new Seahawks Stadium. South end zone! Every game seemed to get louder and louder. It was contagious! The team encouraged us as we screamed! I've been to other "loud" stadiums where it's incredibly loud but only on 3rd downs. This was every single defensive play. Every single game! Incredibly quiet when our offense took the field. What an awesome feeling of community it is to be a 12! Every game getting even louder. Can't remember what season but the Giants were coming to town. This was their first game in this new stadium. The local news showed an interview with Eli Manning saying that he heard it was loud but they are from New York and aren't really concerned about this being a factor. Long story short, the 12s set TWO NFL records that game which stands today. 11 false start penalties in one game! 5 in a row!!! Wow! To have been there for this is something I'll never forget. Imagine the noise after 3, then 4, then the 5th false start flag. The pure joy we all had. They could not get a play off. 12 for life!!!
Some people are born with blonde hair, some people are born with a disgust for pineapple on their pizza (the people that favor it are WAY cooler - change my mind). Me? I was born with blue in my veins; and that is 100% because of my father. For crying out loud my first word was ball! Growing up in a small town in Eastern Washington there weren't as many things to do as your bigger towns and cities (even though the Columbia Basin is a summer time paradise) - fall and winter though? It was football season. It brought our family and friends together, great food, comradery and jumping up and down in excitement - or sometimes screaming words I didn't quite understand to the giant wooden console TV; either way, win or lose; we did it all together. We never went to a game, it was a 6 hour one way trip. 2 hours to an airport. We were rural man, and didn't have the most money growing up; but we loved our Hawks and supported them in the best way we could - remember when Training Camp was on campus at EWU in Cheney? We do. That was the closest we got. Seasons went by, and I got older. Middle School Football. High School Football. I remember my freshman year of college, hearing Hasselbeck's "We want the ball, and we're going to score" echo through an auditorium on campus at EWU. I remember infecting my then girlfriend (now wife) with Seahawks fever; she was predominantly a baseball fan, but now dons a blue and green tutu for football games. We moved to Western Washington in 2011 for college - leaving our families back home on the East Side. We were finally closer! Certainly a game was in our future; but school was expensive. We both had jobs, we were able to pay our bills, but when my girlfriend's grades started deteriorating I took on all the bills. We were there for HER education. We weren't going to screw this up; when she focused solely on school, our "extra" money went away pretty quickly, but we were still able to enjoy the games as we had for so many seasons prior and her grades soared. Still, being 6 hours away from our family we would call during touchdowns, half time and those obvious WHAT moments. We shared that stuff.
My father, like I said, was the reason I was a Seahawks fan. He had a great feeling about this kid, and he KNEW that when we signed him? He was going to do great things for us; he knew it in his heart and he talked about it frequently. "He's our guy. He's our shot, and he's going to get us a Super Bowl" --- my father passed away suddenly on August 20th 2012 and never got to see him in a regular season game. It was devastating from every angle, I was an only child and we were 6 hours away - it was the worst moment of my life, but onward we went. My wife graduated, we moved back to the East Side to be closer to her family and my mother, and as our faith in Russ grew, we just knew Dad would've been ecstatic to see the scramble, and what he accomplished as a whole during his first season.
Mom would eventually deviate from her local gatherings, and meet us for games under our "Hawks Game Crew" - which were basically hosted football games for our circle of friends with themed meals, drinks and appetizers - everything that we had always done, just 30 years later and it was ME taking over the helm that my Dad had once held, but under my own roof. August 8th 2019 the Seahawks neon light gets turned on in the Hilson household, our giant 12 flag is raised and the traditions begin; even our "Luchador Retrievers" make an appearance! It's a lifestyle, and we embrace it to the max.
I hated football. I used to watch and just see full grown men pig-pile on top of each other. That all changed when I became a teacher.
A local school district hired me as a fifth grade teacher for the 2013-2014 school year. I was beyond excited, but also extremely nervous. A key to being a good teacher is building a relationship with each of your students, so they will feel safe, motivated, and excited to learn. But as a fresh (teacher) meat, I was concerned about how to bond with my fifth grade boys. I had a lot of sporty boys that year, and I was struggling to find a way to connect with them. I definitely couldn't talk Taylor Swift with them! So, that's when my life changed.
I kept overhearing my boys talk about the Seahawks. They'd talk about players or games during snack time, recess, lining up to go to PE/music, ALL THE TIME! I couldn't believe these fifth graders were that obsessed with pig-piling men. So, I decided to give football another chance. I watched the next game just so I could talk to my boys about plays. The next Monday during my class's morning meeting, we talked about what we did that weekend. I talked about how I watched the Seahawk game and my boys' eyes literally lit up. They were so excited to talk about amazing plays, disappointing plays, and their favorite players. I was in. Over the next several games, I could tell they were more excited to come to school because we'd banter back and forth about players and the games. I would start to integrate the Seahawks into our curriculum. If students needed extra practice on a reading comprehension skill, I could pull an article about the Seahawks and my students would be more engaged in the lessons.
Over the next month, I continued to watch the games to have something to use to bond with my students, but then something happened. When I was watching the games, I started getting hooked to the announcer commentary during half-time and time-outs. They'd talk about how incredible a player was, but more importantly, how hard working that player was. I started to respect the players as people. Hearing about their passion and drive for the game or the fact that they'd stay late to study tape amazed me. The more I heard the backstories, the more I fell in love with the Seahawks. Now I was beyond watching the games to build relationships with my students. I was watching the games for myself so I could watch certain players live their dream and work hard. I couldn't miss a game!
I've come a long way in 6 years. I've come to respect so many different Seahawks for their tenacity and other inspirational qualities. They demonstrate so many qualities that I hope my students will gain. I hope my students are like Tyler Lockett as a young player flying down the field on a return with fearlessness. I hope my students are like Russell Wilson as he goes through his ups and downs and remains positive and has a problem-solving, growth mindset. I hope my students are like the Griffin brothers who have overcome barriers with loyalty, compassion, and kindness. Lastly, I hope I am like my favorite Seahawk, Pete Carroll, on game days as he has focused leadership, but also genuinely celebrates his players' successes, growth and grit.
I'm definitely still learning about the complexities of the game as I knew absolutely nothing before starting my teaching career. This teacher has become a (Seahawk) student. I continue to use the Seahawks to build relationships with my students and engage them in learning. Being new to the teaching profession is extremely hard because you have to prepare several lessons for the next day as well as teach several lessons a day. I'd spend early mornings and late nights at school to make sure I was the best teacher I could be for my students. There are several friends and family members that have supported me as I was about to break down with the stress of teaching and helped me realize my passion for teaching and the kids (even the tricky ones!). No matter what, thank you Seahawks for making me a better teacher! Go Hawks!