The two tight ends — who were joined by team mascot Blitz and former Seahawks wide receiver Paul Johns — visited the Redmond school as part of the team’s Play 60 Tuesdays program, which encourages youth to spend at least 60 minutes each day outside and being active.
EXERCISE AND EAT RIGHT
The visit began with an all-school assembly that could have been mistaken for game day at CenturyLink Field with everyone sporting Seahawks gear and brimming with enough excitement to make the 12th Man proud. The players spoke on the importance of physical activity, sharing with the students some of their favorite things to do when they were young (below).
Miller said growing up in Phoenix, he and his siblings would play all sorts of sports, not just football.
“It was more about going outside,” he said.
Miller said to deal with the more extreme desert heat, they would wait till dusk to begin their games.
McCoy, an only child growing up, said playing outside was his chance to be with his friends and he was always reluctant to come home. Like Miller, McCoy’s childhood was spent playing various sports and games such as foursquare, dodgeball and baseball, in addition to touch football.
Johns, who played for the team from 1981-84 and is now the Seahawks’ community relations assistant director, also touched on gender roles and expectations. He said girls can be just as athletic and good at sports as boys and shouldn’t be deterred because of their gender. This received a round of applause from both female students and staff.
Johns said the main focus of Play 60 is to just be active, which is very important nowadays as obesity is a serious issue for kids. He added that with so many video games and computer games at kids’ disposal, physical activity is falling by the wayside.
Physical activity also allows kids to socialize, learn how to resolve conflict and deal with other issues that may come from interacting with their peers. Johns said gaming often has the opposite effect.
“It makes kids become solitary,” he said.
The Seahawks also spoke about the importance of eating healthy and how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While they admitted that the healthiest food is usually the kind that doesn’t taste good, they told the students things will change as they get older.
“You won’t like it right away,” McCoy said. “You will like it eventually.”
Dickinson principal Karen Barker said the Play 60’s healthy eating message ties into the the school’s fresh-to-order program in which students are able to order their meals on the spot and watch it being cooked right in front of them.
This service is available to students a few days during the week, Barker said.
HOW IT WORKS
Johns said this is the Seahawks’ Play 60 program’s second year. It began as an NFL initiative, but each team in the league has free rein over their individual program.
With Play 60 Tuesdays, Johns said one or two Seahawk players visit two schools every Tuesday during the season (with a few exceptions), for a total of about 26 schools.
The program is currently focusing on school districts in King County. Johns said the elementary schools are selected by the districts’ superintendents, who recommend three schools to him. When the new season begins, Johns said he goes back to the superintendents and asks them for three new schools.
Barker said she learned her school was selected about six weeks ago and while she told the teachers far in advance, she didn’t announce the special Seahawks visit to the students until Halloween — a little more than a week before the big day.
“I decided one week of chaos was enough,” she said about the potential excitement of having professional athletes visit the school.
However, things remained quite calm at Dickinson until the morning of the Seahawks visit.
OTHER IMPORTANT MESSAGES
While Play 60’s main message is about exercising, the players also touched on the importance of academics.
“You can’t get to this level (of football) unless you go to college,” Johns told the students.
Miller and McCoy, who graduated from Arizona State University and University of Southern California, respectively, agreed. The players told students that the subjects they struggle the most with are the ones they need to study the hardest and that it is okay to ask for help.
“If you need help, your teachers are always there for you,” Miller said.
The Seahawks also touched on the topic of bullying, telling students it is not okay to pick on others.
“My thing was just to walk away,” McCoy told them about his bullying experiences as a kid.
Sixth-grader Kylee Traynor said this was the most important part of the whole assembly. Kylee said she used to be bullied and appreciated the Seahawks addressing the issue. And like the speakers, Kylee agreed that bullying needs to end.
“If you’re bullying, stop it,” she said. “It’s not good.”
In addition to the assembly, Play 60 at Dickinson also included “play” time with Miller (right) and McCoy. The two players as well as Blitz the Seahawk joined fifth and sixth graders for a few rounds of capture the flag as the rest of the school cheered along the sidelines.
“It was a lot of fun,” said sixth-grader Luke Gibbons.
Luke, who has attended Dickinson since he was in kindergarten, said Tuesday’s Seahawks Day was the most exciting event that has happened in all of his seven years.
He said having the players come in and talk to students was a good way to spread the message about eating right and exercising.
Johns said since they began Play 60 Tuesdays, the participating schools have been very enthusiastic.
“The response has been absolutely fantastic,” he said.
While the schools benefit from the Seahawks’ visits, Johns said the players benefit as well. They enjoy participating and are able to get out into the community.
Luke said playing with the Blitz and the two tight ends was the best part of the day for him, but it was also clear from the sidelines that the three Seahawks were just a bunch of big kids having just as much fun.
Photos and video by Tim Watanabe, Redmond Reporter