Not even the 100-plus degree heat could keep central Washington Seahawks fans from coming out to catch a glimpse of their favorite NFL team.
Seattle wide receiver Chris Matthews, defensive tackle Jimmy Staten, the Sea Gals, Blue Thunder Drumline, and team mascots Blitz and BOOM traveled through Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Lake Chelan, and Wenatchee this past week to kick off the first leg of the team's '12 Tour' across the Pacific Northwest.
Hundreds of 12s eagerly awaited the club's expedition at each stop, many of whom were decked from head-to-toe in Seahawks blue and green, clutching 12 Flags that waved back and forth in what little wind the area had to offer.
"This is Washington, this is our state," said the 25-year-old Super Bowl XLIX standout Matthews. "We're the only football team that's out here and we have a huge amount of fans that love sports, that love football. I expected it to be a huge turnout and that's what happened."
After a brief stop to enjoy the scenery at Snoqualmie Falls, the 12 Tour continued with a fan rally and 12 Flag raising at Yakima's Performance Park, where Matthews and Staten entertained questions from 12 Tour emcee Gee Scott of 710 ESPN Seattle. From there, the tour ate lunch at Yakima's iconic Miner's Drive-In Restaurant, where Matthews and Staten got behind the grill to cook up a few burgers for the Seahawks fans on the site.
The Seahawks' Central Washington #12Tour with wide receiver Chris Matthews, defensive lineman Jimmy Staten, the Sea Gals, and mascot BOOM continued East to Yakima with a 12 Flag raising and stop at Miner's burgers for lunch.
"Coming from a small town - Waycross, Georgia - it's a lot like this," said the second-year Seahawk Staten. "We have like a small little downtown area. So I love it, man. It reminds me of home."
The 12 Tour then transitioned some 80 miles east to the Tri-Cities for a visit with the Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin counties. Led by Matthews and Staten, the tour went from room to room interacting and posing for photos with the kids.
Twenty-five children from the Boys & Girls Club boarded the 12 Tour bus to spend that night with the Seahawks at the Northwest League baseball game between the visiting Vancouver Canadiens and Pasco's own Tri-City Dust Devils - the same team Russell Wilson played for before he became the Seahawks quarterback in 2012. Matthews and Staten each threw out the ceremonial first pitch and participated in an on-field Q&A session between innings.
"This is my first time out this way and I can feel the love out here," said Staten, who got to visit with Dust Devils pitcher Cecil Tanner, a former high school basketball teammate of his back in Georgia. "There's so many fans out here who are giving us tons of support today. We thank those guys for coming out."
The Seahawks' Central Washington #12Tour with wide receiver Chris Matthews, defensive lineman Jimmy Staten, the Sea Gals, and mascot BOOM landed in the Tri-Cities, where the Seahawks joined children from the Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin counties at the Tri-City Dust Devils baseball game.
The tour hosted a free '12 Fest' at Kennewick's Lampson Stadium the following day featuring on-field football activities, photo ops, and a Sea Gals dance clinic before making its way to Lake Chelan the next day for even more Seahawks-themed fun in the sun with 12s at Don Morse Memorial Park. The central Washington 12 Tour's last stop came at a fan rally and 12 Flag raising at Wenatchee's Pybus Public Market before returning home to the Seattle area.
"I just want people to understand that we're humans, too," Matthews said. "We like to come out and have fun and play with the kids and do fun things on the football field. It's a great time out here. We get to interact and meet new faces, see new people, and of course this is the other side of town for us. We get to see the other side of town and how excited they are."
The Seahawks' 12 Tour continues July 7-9 in Alaska, July 9-11 in Vancouver, B.C., and July 16-18 in Boise, Idaho. For more details, check out Seahawks.com/12Tour.
The Seahawks' Central Washington #12Tour stopped in Lake Chelan, where wide receiver Chris Matthews, defensive lineman Jimmy Staten, the Sea Gals, and Blitz the Seahawk enjoyed a day on the water and in the sun with the Seahawks faithful.
The last stop on the Seahawks' Central Washington #12Tour saw wide receiver Chris Matthews, defensive lineman Jimmy Staten, and the Sea Gals visit Wenatchee's Pybus Public Market for a fan rally and 12 Flag raising.
Selfies taken by Sea Gal Gretchen as she heads out on the Central Washington #12Tour to Yakima, Tri-Cities, Chelan and Wenatchee.