By David Krueger Herald Writer
RENTON — In the wake of a tragedy, the Seattle Seahawks made Tuesday afternoon a very special occasion for Marysville Pilchuck High School’s football team.
The Tomahawks spent Tuesday afternoon practicing at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center — the Seattle Seahawks’ practice facility. Tuesday is generally the Seahawks day off, so head coach Pete Carroll invited Marysville Pilchuck — and Oak Harbor — to practice at his team’s facility.
Oak Harbor couldn’t make it. The Wildcats, who graciously gave the Tomahawks the Wesco 3A North title after the teams’ game was postponed last Friday because of a deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High, hope to practice at the Seahawks’ facility at a future date.
The Tomahawks, however, were able to bus down for what Marysville Pilchuck coach Brandon Carson called an exciting “field trip.”
“The Seahawks really rolled out the red carpet for us and did a great job of taking care of us today,” Carson said. “We’re really appreciative of them. It was really great. It was really helpful.”
Carson said he reached out to the Seahawks, who quickly responded with the practice invitation. Then it was up to the MP players to accept.
“I talked to my captains and asked if that was something they wanted to do,” Carson said. “They looked at me like, ‘Is that even a question?’”
So, the Tomahawks held a two-hour practice at the Renton facility as they prepare for Friday night’s Wesco 3A championship against Meadowdale.
“It was crazy! And upped our practice tempo!” Marysville Pilchuck senior Austin Joyner said in a text.
Carson said it was surprisingly easy for the team to remain focused in the home of the defending Super Bowl champions despite the Lombardi Trophy being housed in the same building.
“Once we started practice, for the kids and the coaching staff, just being able to practice in the facility where the world champions did, I think we had a great practice,” Carson said. “We got stuff done. We’re heading toward getting fully prepared for Meadowdale.”
A few Seahawks players, including cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and tackle Russell Okung, were on hand to greet the Tomahawks along with the Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
“Our hearts just opened immediately to try to help in any way that we can,” Carroll said in his press conference on Monday. “… We hope that we can do whatever we can in our support, our fans’ support.
“You feel so helpless, but we wish that we could do something to ease the pain of all of the people that have been troubled.”
After Tuesday’s practice, the players took to social media to thank the Seahawks for the experience.
“One of the best practices I’ve ever had,” senior running back JJ Valencia tweeted, along with a picture with former Seahawk wide receiver Sidney Rice. “So grateful for being able to practice in the VMAC with the team. #MPStrong.”
“The 2nd best day of my life only behind winning the Super Bowl!!” Daryl Cerdino, a junior running back and linebacker, posted on Instagram. “Thank you @seahawks [for] letting us practice in the V-Mac. It means a lot to this team and community #MPstrong #GoHawks.”
The trip came a day after Marysville Pilchuck’s first practice since the shooting. Carson said it helped lift his team’s spirit as it gets back to focusing on football and making a deep run in the postseason.
“We were together today for close to six hours and that’s part of the healing process,” Carson said. “Just being together and riding the bus. Sharing in this experience together.”
The Marysville Pilchuck players and coaches thanked the Seahawks for welcoming them to their practice facility, with Carson even getting a chance to talk with another head coach in Carroll.
“I just thanked him profusely for what this means to us and our community,” Carson said. “He said, ‘No problem. Anything you need you know how to get a hold of us.’ He told the guys they’re thinking about them and they care about them.”