On December 17, the Seahawks will use one of their proudest and established traditions to honor the success of Washington state's youth football programs, as they welcome a new group of 12 Flag Raisers to CenturyLink Field.
Prior to Seattle's Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams, the 12 Flag will be raised by the six high school state championship-winning head football coaches in an effort to pay tribute to what their programs achieved this past season.
Almira-Coulee-Hartline High School's Brandon Walsh, Kalama's Sean McDonald, Royal's Wiley Allred, Hockinson's Rick Steele, O'Dea's Monte Kohler, and Richland's Mike Neidhold will help launch what will become a new Seahawks tradition to help grow support for youth football in the state of Washington.
"We salute and thank coaches across the state who have invested their time and expertise into teaching the values of teamwork and integrity along with the fundamentals of football," Seahawks Vice President of Community Outreach Mike Flood said of the campaign's origin. "They make a positive impact on their players and our community."
Kohler, who this year helped lead the O'Dea Fighting Irish to its first championship since 1995 and fourth in school history, was shocked to learn of his involvement, "I am excited, this is a great Seattle tradition and to be one of the first – just overjoyed with this opportunity," he said.
"I think any time you get the professionals doing something to help youth sports it is going to benefit them," Kohler added of the tradition's impact on youth football. "Football excitement in Seattle all starts with the Seahawks. Our participation numbers have not dropped and I give all the credit to the Seahawks and the tradition that they have built under coach Pete Carroll."
John Miller, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's (WIAA) Assistant Executive Director who oversees football, was thrilled to see youth programs recognized as part of the 12 Flag-raising effort.
"The Seahawks have gone over and beyond in being thankful to the 12s and understanding the relationship and how important it is to their success," Miller said. "The same thing is true for those high school coaches that won the state championship. So I really see a direct tie in what happens in successful high school programs and the 12s."
One of the goals of the new 12 Flag tradition is to build the relationship between youth sports and professional football with an eye on closing the gap between the two levels.
"I can't tell you the positive impact it has having the support of the Seahawks and what they've done for youth football," Miller said.
As the 12-Flag-raising tradition grows and relationships between Washington communities and youth football programs develop, Kohler hopes the opportunity "will continue to help build and reinforce our culture at the school. The boys worked hard and now they are being recognized not just at the school level, but at the city and even the national level."