Dave Canales turns to the picture hanging on the wall in his office, the one just left of the numerous pictures of his family. In that decade-old photo, the 2004 Carson High School freshman football team is huddled up following a victory, listening to a message from Canales.
"This is my first team ever," Canales said. "Carson High School, Gene Vollnogle Stadium. You couldn't have told me it was freshman football; it was the Super Bowl every day at practice. We approached it that way because we wanted to give them something to be proud of."
It was only a decade ago that Canales was helping coach the freshman football team at his alma mater, and if his coaching career had peaked with him working his way up to coaching the varsity team at Carson for the rest of his life, Canales would have been just fine with that.
"My dream was just to be the head coach at the high school," Canales said.
Instead, thanks to the urging of his wife, Lizzy, who recognized that her husband had a knack for this coaching thing, Canales expanded his dreams a bit, and 11 years after his first season coaching freshman football, he'll open training camp as the receivers coach for the Seattle Seahawks. Canales, who started out with the Seahawks in 2010 as a quality control coach having made the move from USC to Seattle, replaces Kippy Brown, who retired this offseason.
"We're very excited about Dave rising up as the new wide receivers coach," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's got great enthusiasm, he's a very strong communicator, and he's very innovative.
"Kippy was a tremendous part of our staff and played a big-time role in helping our young players and young coaches develop. He's a lifelong friend and we'll always be so grateful for his contributions."
Not long after Lizzy Canales urged her husband to consider college coaching, he was able to land a position coaching tight ends and special teams, then later quarterbacks at El Camino College. While at that job, Canales connected with Steve Sarkisian, then an assistant under Carroll at USC and a former quarterback and coach at El Camino. That connection led to Canales getting an invite to help at USC's offseason camps.
"Just wanting to learn more brought me to USC to learn from Coach Carroll," said Canales, who was still teaching high school English while coaching at El Camino. "I just went there to learn, and every year I'd be there every Tuesday during the offseason. I didn't know any opportunities were going to come up, I just wanted to be better at my junior college. That created a relationship where Pete hired me. I was teaching 12th grade English, like last-chance English. I was sitting there and Pete called me on the phone and gave me that opportunity."
Since that phone call, Canales has worked various roles for Carroll both at USC and in Seattle, most recently as an offensive assistant working with quarterbacks, and before that working with Brown and the receivers.
"I felt very fortunate to be able to have learned from Kippy," Canales said. "The success that we've had, to be able to roll into that with those two years of experience with Kippy, I just feel really comfortable. Then also there's the (receiver) room; the guys that are here started when I was working with Kippy in 2011, Doug (Baldwin) and Ricardo (Lockette), then Jermaine (Kearse) came the year after that, so I had a chance to work with him. So yeah, I feel a really cool level of comfort with this group, like we grew up together."
And Canales feels like he is prepared for the next step in his career in no small part because of the man he is replacing.
"The most important thing that Kippy taught me was just to let the players tell us what they need and what they're going through," he said. "At that point in my career in 2011, I was young and hungry and wanted to fix all of a player's issues in one practice. One of the biggest things is that, with Kip it never felt out of control. With Kip it was like, 'I've seen this before, this is nothing new and it's going to happen again.'"
A player-by-player look at Seattle's wide receivers ahead of the Seahawks' 2015 training camp.