The Pride of Seattle

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Seattle Seahawks fan. I’m really excited about the season they’re having, and their chance to go to the Super Bowl. They play in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday, and I’m lucky enough to be able to go to the game!

I didn’t even know that much about football until I got to USC. But while I was there, I didn’t really have a choice. During that time, Trojans Football was the thing. The football team made us the it school. Everybody there watched the football team. That was the sport that everybody went crazy over.

When I first got there, people would ask, “Are you going to the game?” I was like, “Oh, no, I’ll probably just do homework. And they’d say, “Homework? This is college. In college you go to the football game.” When I finally went, it was a wow moment. The stadium is huge. Everybody is just so into it. I had no idea it was that big.

My freshman year, they went to the Orange Bowl, and the program was starting to turn around (so I heard from other people who were there before me). That next year is when we went to the Rose Bowl, and had to share the title with LSU. My junior year, we won the National Championship down at the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma.

That was right around the time I started paying attention to the Seahawks and the NFL, my junior year in college. At that point, there were actually people in the NFL that I knew personally from USC. Guys that I went to school with and had classes with, players that lived in the same apartment complex, and whose girlfriends I was friends with..

One of the first guys I knew that went to the pros from USC was Lofa Tatupu, and the Seahawks drafted him. Lofa was actually one of my good friends early in college. I met him my freshman year, and he lived down the hall from me in my apartment building. Once the Seahawks drafted him, I really started paying attention, and then he went to the Super Bowl his rookie year. It gives you a different feel when you watch someone you know on a personal level compete in a sporting event. You want to see them do well.

Tatupu

So it was great to see guys like Lawrence Jackson, Allen Bradford and Mike Williams play for the Seahawks. Mike is married to one my best friends. I never got to make a game while he was there because I have my business schedule on track, and I don’t alter my schedule to go to a game. But I would go over to their house or hang out with her, and watch them play. For those two years, it was great. We hang out down here in LA all the time, and then when I’d go up to Seattle, she’d be there too.

It’s cool to watch people that I went to school and became friends with play in my home city. It’s different from being a kid and watching from afar. When you know people personally, the connection to it is different. It’s not like a jump-on-the-bandwagon-type-thing for me because I know those guys.

COACHING CONNECTION

I felt an even bigger connection to the Seahawks when they hired Pete Carroll. I love Pete. When I was a Trojan, he was a Trojan. He did all kinds of great things for our school. Everybody at SC still claims him as their coach because of what he did for our program. Those were the best years ever for USC Football. Now, it’s like he’s creating the best years of Seattle Seahawks football. That’s our coach. It’s amazing just to watch him do such great things for my home city.

PeteCarroll

Back at USC, I would see Pete and people on his staff on an almost daily basis in the weight room. I worked out with strength coaches that now work on the staff for the Seahawks. I even lifted with Pete sometimes. The weight trainer who trained me there used to get Pete in for a quick workout, so occasionally, he would come in while I was in there. Whenever I’d see him, he was always full of smiles. He was very personable, and I feel like he’s a real down-to-earth, energetic guy.

That’s probably the thing that I like most about Pete, his energy. I like that when the team scores or does something good, it’s like Pete did it himself. That’s how he was at USC too. His reaction to plays and his reactions to his guys when they come over to the sideline are so great. He just shows so much love for the sport, and for the way they’re playing. You can’t help but love that as a fan.

ENERGY AND INSPIRATION 

I also find it inspiring watching the Seahawks. Football is a crazy sport because of what you have to do with your body. You’re constantly getting hit, and falling on the ground with dead weight on you. You’re running around with pads on, but guys are still out there and have all that energy for the whole game.

Sherman

My favorite player on the team now is probably Richard Sherman. That’s my go-to-guy. He just has this energy about the way he plays that, to me, is crazy. He’s just so aggressive, and always hyped and ready to take down any and everybody.

In my sport in my event, we run for twelve seconds. That’s it. That’s all that you have to be hyped for.  Football games are long. To have that kind of energy that Richard has for the  entire game is impressive. I couldn’t imagine having to be like that for that long. He is so young and energetic, and that energy spreads throughout that team.

On the offense, I like Russell Wilson. I think he’s everybody’s favorite. It amazes me how well he plays and how he leads the team, relative to how young he is. I like his decision making out there on the field. He seems very poised, and is very good at reading where his receivers are. The way he plays and the way he reads the game, he seems like a vet. I like when he runs the ball too. (I feel like he should run it a little more.)

I also like Golden Tate. He has that cocky confidence that some guys have where it’s kind of a mixture of both, but in a good way. He’s fast as I don’t know what. Jermaine Kearse has been impressive this season too. He went to UW, and I think he’s from around Seattle.

JermaineKearse

I’m sure his family has got to be having the time of their lives and really having fun with that, being from the area and getting to watch him play for them.

TIMES HAVE CHANGED

I do remember going to Seahawks games when I was growing up and they played in the Kingdome. It was always fun to watch the home town team in any sport because that’s your home city. Of course, you want them to do well.

But back then, I was more of a Sonics fan than anything else. It was during that era when they went to the Finals. We had Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Vin Baker, and Nate McMillan. That was the team I really paid attention to. I also played and loved basketball, so that was why I was so drawn to them.

1996 NBA Finals Game 6:  Seattle SuperSonics vs. Chicago Bulls

With the Sonics and Mariners doing so well in the 90s, I think the Seahawks got kind of overlooked by the city back then. I think people loved football and watched the Seahawks too, but they weren’t that good, and they definitely weren’t as big as they are now.

Now that the Sonics are gone and we no longer have a NBA team, everyone’s attention has shifted to the Seahawks. That definitely plays in their favor. Granted, they’re also doing amazing right now, but I still think it helps them that all there is in Seattle right now is football and baseball, and there is no competition during football season.

Whenever I go up there, I see so many Seahawks jerseys and Mariners stuff. Way more than I see Clippers, Lakers, Dodgers or Angels stuff down in LA. People in Seattle wear their team stuff every day — not just game day. At this point, I think everyone in Seattle is a die-hard sports fan. Whether the team is doing good or bad, they just root for the home team.

But going to a Seahawks game is an entirely different experience. CenturyLink is amazing. It feels like being at a real football stadium vs. the Kingdome when I was a kid. The energy in there is crazy. You have no choice but to be screaming right along with the rest of the fans.

CenturyLink

When I went earlier in the year with my dad and my brother, our voices were gone and our ears were ringing by the time the game ended. But it’s so much fun. It’s like an adrenaline rush.

I’m sure it is going to be even crazier on Sunday. I can’t wait!

Rehab Progress, Turning 30 and Enjoying Seattle

It’s been almost two months since I had surgery, and so far, the recovery is going pretty well. I still have a little ways to go, but I hope that this next six weeks will be that jump up to that next level, closer to getting me back on the track.

It took a while for me just to be able to walk. I couldn’t walk for the first two weeks and was on crutches for the next three weeks, then moved to a cane, and gradually, worked my way back to walking on my own. I’ve been doing it on my own for the last couple of weeks, but I’m still trying to get the strength back in my legs and still building that up day by day. I also still have some scar tissue in the area where they did most of the work that needs to break up.

Once I was first allowed to start doing rehab work, I had to do a lot of straight leg work because I couldn’t do anything with a bent knee that shortly after the surgery. It was a lot of work with ankle weights, calf raises, ankle curls, glute exercises, all designed to strengthen the muscles around the knee to help take pressure off the knee.

I can feel the difference on a week-to-week basis. Since they’ve cleared me to do a little more, I’ve also been riding a stationary bike and running in the pool, which has helped a lot. The next step is to do more with a bent knee because that’s going to simulate more how I run, and the position that my body will be in.

At this point, I have to just go based on what my body feels like. With certain exercises you can feel when you’re ready to move up or do something different. The last couple of weeks, I started feeling like that and the trainers I’m working with felt that way too without me even having to say it. The doctors have said, “You know your body. You can feel when you’re ready to move up.”

The important thing is to listen to my body because my mind is definitely ready ahead of when my body will be. Until my body is ready, I have to listen to the pain, and really think about what I can and can’t do. If I feel any type of discomfort, I just have to back it off and maybe try again in a couple days.

You can progress pretty fast, but you don’t want to push it to where you hurt something else because you’re not ready.

This rehab is similar to what I went through the last time I had knee surgery. It seems like it went a little quicker last time, but I had different work done this time so I had to be a little more careful with the exercises in the beginning — that’s why they implemented some of the straight leg exercises — to make sure I was progressing slowly instead of jumping right in.

Outside of my rehab, I have to remind myself to limit my activities. I’m used to doing a lot of things in one day and really getting after it, but sometimes I really need to remember to slow down.

Having the surgery toward the end of the season has helped me take it slow a bit. But at the same time, I haven’t run in a couple of months, so I can’t fight the feeling that I am a little behind. Because of that, I would like to get started earlier than I normally would if I had completed a season. It makes me want to speed this thing up so I can do some running and jogging.

I’ll be checking back in with the surgeon in St. Louis in a few weeks, and I’m hoping to be cleared to ramp it up a bit so I can get back on the track soon.

TURNING 30

I just celebrated my 30th birthday earlier this month, so I was in Seattle for a while to enjoy it with my friends and family.

I feel like when you go through things like what I’m going through with rehab, the important thing is to remember that there’s still life outside of track, and to enjoy the important moments that are still there. That helps me keep my mind off of sitting there and beating myself up because I’m watching everyone else compete while I’m just sitting out.

Everybody that I have around me has been really supportive during this time. My parents and my friends have been great. My husband has done so much for me in the last month, there are times I don’t want to even ask for anything else, but I’m sure he enjoyed it, even if I got on his nerves at times.

While I was in Seattle, I got to participate in several great events for the city.

After speaking at the Love and 4Giveness event in St. Louis, I helped Jackie Joyner-Kersee organize to bring the Love and 4Giveness program up to Seattle last Saturday. It really meant a lot to me for her to come and shed some light on the athletes in Seattle, and the running programs they’re trying to set in motion.

That night, Jackie and I attended the Tabor 100 banquet, where they honored Paul Allen and Chris Hansen. Obviously, Paul Allen is a big deal here in Seattle, so they wanted Jackie to attend and they invited me to attend as well. It was a fun-filled day.

PART OF THE 12TH MAN

To complete a great weekend, I went to the Seahawks game against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday night with a bunch of my friends, my brother and my dad.

It was so much fun — that was probably the best time I’ve ever had at a game. It was so loud — we used the word crackin’ — it was crazy. Everybody was totally into it. It’s great for Seattle to have an environment like that. It just shows you how successful the city is and can be. I think the city is thriving now with jobs and sports. Without a NBA team here since the Sonics left, everybody channels their energy into football.

I also feel a little more of a connection to the Seahawks because of Pete Carroll, who is doing an amazing job. Pete was the coach at USC during my time being a Trojan, and he took our team to a whole new level.

They made history and it was great being at USC during that era to be a part of that. There are several other members of that USC staff now in Seattle, and to be able to enjoy that connection in my home city now, it’s a good feeling. I feel like they’re my people and now they’re here in my city, so I get the best of both worlds.

DRIVEN BY YOUR SUPPORT

I just want to say thank you to all of my fans for supporting in me and believing in me.

I’m always thankful to the people who support me even if it’s just a little message. After I tweet something about therapy, people will tweet something like “hope you’re having a speedy recovery” or “get better soon,” just those little things. I’m very appreciative of those things. I may not get to respond to all of them, but I do read them, and it helps me get through that time.

You guys push me to do nothing but great things, and I want you to expect nothing but great things these next four years. I expect to have the best four years of my track career.