Pete Carroll isn’t just the face of A Better Seattle. He took his message to the Capitol on Wednesday, when the Seahawks’ coach showed his passion and commitment to helping at-risk kids.
Pete Carroll has a vision. He would like to change the vision for those youths growing up in neighborhoods where dying or going to jail seem to be the only alternatives.
The Seahawks’ coach took his message to the Washington state legislature on Wednesday, looking to generate additional financial support for A Better Seattle – which funds youth outreach activities in the greater Seattle area and is patterned after the A Better L.A. program he started while coaching at the University of Southern California.
“There’s a vision that we found in dealing with A Better L.A. that I know is here, too,” Carroll said. “Kids that are in these difficult situations feel like they’re either going to die or they’re going to go to jail. I used to listen to them tell me that time and time again.
“I would hear that and it finally hit me, that’s their vision and absolutely you’re right. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. It showed me how clear it was that we’re in the business of helping kids shape a new vision with hope.”
It’s that vision of refocusing those kids’ vision which led Carroll to hitting the end of the campaign trail. As he arrived at the Capitol, a 12th Man flag was being raised by 9-year-old Reid Larsen, who was wearing a Russell Wilson No. 3 jersey and a Seahawks hardhat.
Once in the Capitol, Carroll’s whirlwind visit began in the office of Frank Chopp, where the House speaker explained to the Seahawks’ coach what his agenda for the morning would be and Carroll laid out the goals of A Better Seattle. From there, Carroll was escorted to the Reception Room, where he was greeted by a receiving line of dignitaries and workers – posing for photos and signing everything from Seahawks jerseys to footballs to mini helmets to copies of his book, “Win Forever.”
Then, it was on to the House Chamber, where Carroll was greeted by a standing ovation. That was followed by visits to the Democratic and Republican caucus rooms, with the Democrats presenting Carroll with a Seahawks flag signed by each representative and Carroll reciprocating by giving caucus leader Eric Pettigrew a 12th Man Flag.
From there, it was on to the office of Gov. Jay Inslee, which was followed by a visit to the Senate chamber and a final visit to the office of Sen. Rodney Tom.
At each stop, Carroll’s message and setup were the same. He began by talking about the success of the Seahawks’ 2012 season before transitioning seamlessly into his message of helping at-risk kids find success in their lives.
“I’m fired up about our football team, but we’re here for a different reason today,” Carroll said. “We’re hoping to continue to spread the message and save some lives and save some families.”
Carroll also retold the story of how A Better L.A. got started. He recalled the Monday he was driving to work at USC and heard on the radio that four youths had been shot and killed over the weekend in gang-related issues.
“On Tuesday, it was two more kids and then three more kids,” Carroll said. “But Thursday, it was 11 kids that had died in related issues.”
Carroll had always wanted to do something to help these kids where violence is part of their daily life. That proved to be the impetus.
“We didn’t know what to do, so we called a meeting – kind of like this,” he told the Democratic caucus. “We got the word out that we wanted to talk about what’s going on. We didn’t know what we were, who we were; we had no idea what we were going to get done.”
One meeting led to another. Getting more influential people onboard led to others getting involved.
“What happened was, we started a dialogue. We started a language that in time became a vocabulary for us,” Carroll said.
The talk turned to action, which prompted reactions.
“I asked the people that were involved at the time, ‘If you want to get involved, just do what you say you’re going to do. And if you’re not, just be quiet and let us do what we’re going to do and see what happens,” Carroll said.