I am not really a football fan. I learned the basic rules because my high school boyfriend watched hours of the stuff. I still ask my husband about 20 questions every time I watch a game – which isn’t every weekend and isn’t usually for the whole game.
“Why did they kick for the 3 points? What the heck is a safety again?” I’m glad I married a patient man.
But I like the Seahawks. Some of my affection is because they’ve been winning, I admit. However, most of my fascination with the team revolves around Pete Carroll and his ability to lead a group of players to those wins.
A few years back, the college where I work brought in a motivational speaker named Lou Tice who was once a high school teacher and football coach in Seattle. What Tice had to say about training your brain and altering you beliefs to get better results fascinated me.
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Tice described taking his high school football players to New York to compete nationally for the chance to work with NFL players. He worked relentlessly to set his kids up for success by getting them to envision the new environment and use mental techniques to see themselves succeeding. The techniques were so successful that the Seattle high school players earned most of the positions at NFL camp that year.
When Carroll came to Seattle in 2010 from the University of Southern California, I read a long article about him and his connection to Tice along with the work he had done with youth in Los Angeles. I was intrigued.
I then started to track the team my husband used to call the Sea Turkeys because of the way they “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”
I wanted to know if Carroll could do the same thing Tice had done but on a hyped-up national stage, complete with the tremendous pressures of football frenzy. Because I am not a natural football fan, I was more interested in the techniques he used than the football itself.
Everyone now knows Carroll succeeded. Another Seattle team went to New York and won something much bigger than a place in a football camp. I watched the 2014 Super Bowl all the way through from start to finish – something I had never done before.
Since then, I’ve listened to Carroll’s audio book and looked more closely at the ways he inspired his team. “Win Forever” describes the methods he uses both on and off the field to achieve his dreams and help others to reach their own. I find myself wondering how I can use his creative energy and ideas in my teaching, my writing and with my family.
I’m not saying that the game of football is the best thing for us to adore. I’d love to see us pour millions into education or into our broken transportation system. I can't even truly call myself a 12th woman since the first 11 players are men.
Instead, I am saying people can do amazing things. A tiny percentage of us can do it on the football field. Most of us lead quieter lives. The powerful gift we get from watching success on the TV screen is the inspiration to do better ourselves wherever we work and play even when the odds are stacked against us and we have to recover our version of an onside kick.
For that, I am grateful to Carroll and his team, regardless of this year’s final outcome. I now intend to watch my second Super Bowl game from start to finish.
Who knows? I may even give in and buy a jersey.
Karrie Zylstra Myton of Puyallup teaches at Bates Technical College and writes children's fiction. She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.