Tuesday, February 4, 2014

4 reasons why Pete Carroll inspires me

Now, I am not a fan of football, I would rather watch soccer or hockey. But ever since the Seattle Seahawks organization took a chance on USC coach Pete Carroll, I have been inspired as a writer by the happiest coach in the NFL. Well, what does an NFL coach have to do with writing? Let me give you four reasons.
From espn.com, look at that smile!
  1. Coach Carroll is a writer. He did write a book, Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion. But that isn't what I am referring to. He is the author of a young, undeterred team that big names in the NFL said would not make it. The Seahawks took a coach no one else believed in and basically told him to have at it - write the story of a new team. And he did.

    He chose his characters with as much care as any author looking to tell a great story. He picked a quarter back that was too short, a legally deaf fullback, and other "inexperienced" players. This band of misfits (to loosely quote Richard Sherman) became the driving force of the story's plot - players that other teams didn't want, coming together with chips on their shoulders and ready to prove something.

    There were the requisite hardships that the characters had to overcome, like injuries and not making the first cut. And then there was the build up to the climax: an exceptional 2013 season that took them to the Super Bowl and did what everyone thought they couldn't - they won. Pete Carroll wrote a story that had all the elements of a must-read novel.

    Every writer starts off as undiscovered talent. A few get noticed by the big names in publishing, but many accomplished writers make their living in the "little leagues" of small presses and self publishing. And a few of them, most often having been passed up by the big names, do so well that it takes the publishing world by surprise and the big guys are left to wonder "What did we miss?" Pete Carroll is my inspiration that one day, I will have a story that will make everyone notice.
  2. Coach Carroll is enthusiastic about his story. From the first day I saw this man through my TV, I was captivated by how different he was from other NFL coaches I observed (when I was actually watching a game). Where other coaches have severe looks permanently plastered to their faces, or throw the biggest fits that put my 8-year-old to shame, this man always had a smile on his face. Even when he looked concerned, he never looked angry at his team. And when he spoke to his players, he always seemed encouraging rather than demeaning. When things were going their way, he jumped and whooped and celebrated with the rest of them.
    from News-record.com

    It soon became clear that Carroll thought of the Seahawks as family. And like any fatherly (or motherly) figure, when you are proud of your family's accomplishments, you want to share them with others. I would see snippets of pre- or post-game interviews on the news and I just could not help emulating his contagious smile! Even when a game did not go well, this man never disparaged his team or ever looked angry - just disappointed. Even in the face of defeat, he always found something positive to say.

    Writers should be enthusiastic about their craft. You worked hard to create a compelling story. You suffered through the butchering edits, the harsh critiques, the late nights of writer's block to make a plot work or a character believable. Share the experience of your story with everyone! It's your baby, your family member, and it has grown and changed and ready to make you proud. Carroll has inspired me to be able to share my experience as a writer and introduce my work to people with as much enthusiasm and positivity.
  3. Coach Carroll embodies perseverance. You have to believe in something so wholeheartedly that you would be willing to stick to your guns even when the road is difficult and the reward seems so far away. If forming a team that "experts" said would never make it, and standing with that team every day until every one of them believed they deserved respect, and then proving the "experts" wrong in spectacular fashion isn't the embodiment of perseverance, I don't know what is.

    The first time he became a head coach for the NFL, first for the Jets then the Patriots, both teams eventually fired him after short stints because he did not produce immediate results. After a successful run at USC that ended badly, Carroll was hired on by the Seahawks and given a second chance. And four years later, look at his accomplishment. Through the difficulties and triumphs he went through in his coaching career, he made it to the end result he was looking for. And he isn't anywhere near done yet.

    A writer must believe in the story he or she has to tell. Writing the story isn't always the hard part, but rather what must be done after the it is written. You have to make readers believe in your story just as much as you. There will be times when no one is listening, times when someone gives you bad press. But if you believe in the world you've built, others are going to believe in it too. I want to be like Coach Carroll, to persevere through the difficulties of being a writer so that I can be recognized for my work.
  4. Coach Carroll has a following. Since its first use in 2002, Centurylink Field has been considered one of the most difficult stadiums to play an away game in because of the noise. There are a lot of die-hard Seattle fans out there, many of whom have been season ticket holders for years. But when the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll, the team wasn't the only thing evolving.

    I only started seriously watching Seahawks football just to see the happiest coach ever do his job. But I did notice that the stands gradually seemed more crowded, more Seahawk blue, more vocal, and more into the game. In 2011, I got to watch Marshawn Lynch make an amazing 67-yard run that caused fans to shake the ground so hard it registered on the seismograph at the University of Washington. But all I cared about was how Carroll walked the sideline giving every one of his offensive players high-fives and then giving Lynch a hug. He was happy and you knew it. And I became a 12 that day because I wanted to see this team and the coach that believed in them succeed.

    honoring the 12th man
    The 2013 season was the year of the 12's. Never before have I experienced an entire community of fans so ardent in their support for a team. But I believe it is because the team acknowledges that they are nothing without their fans. The 12's have their own page on the Seahawk website, and they are publicly thanked at the end of every game. As a writer, I don't want just a bunch of people following me on Twitter or Facebook. I want to engage with them, hear from them, and feed off their energy just like the Seahawks and their happy coach feed off the 12's. I am inspired to acknowledge the contributions of my fans, no matter how small, so they will continue to be my support. 
So, there you have it, four reasons coach Pete Carroll is my role model as a writer. The story he has written for the Seahawks franchise will always be a memorable one. His real-life characters inspire me to create characters of my own that readers will want to root for - to become my story's 12's. He has taught me to be patient and push through, to "always compete." Thank you Coach Carroll, and congratulations on winning the Super Bowl!

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