More than 3,000 fans helped the Seattle Seahawks raise the 12th Man Flag at Doc Harris Stadium Saturday, in Camas.
“I don’t know if you heard, but we won this thing called the Super Bowl,” said Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, delivering a roaring response from the crowd. “How could you not be energized for the next season? We gotta get another one of these rings and another one of these trophies.”
Baldwin and teammate Phillip Bates answered questions from the fans. The Sea Gals and the Camas High School cheerleaders performed for the crowd. Blitz, the Seahawks mascot, brought out the Vince Lombardi Trophy for everybody to see. After these pre-game festivities, all of the people in the stands rushed on to the field to play.
Dominic Wetten, of Colton, Ore., and Jonah and Noah Drenoske, of Milwaukie, Ore., conquered The Blaster obstacle course several times. They also raced to see who could pump water into a balloon the fastest and make it pop.
Parents Steve Wetten and Brianna Drenoske, and grandmother Denni Christler, are huge Seahawks fans. Steve and Denni attended the NFC Championship game between Seattle and San Francisco at CenturyLink Field. They had a bird’s eye view of Richard Sherman’s interception in the end zone that sealed the victory for Seahawks.
“And the place just went nuts,” Steve said.
The Seahawks extended the Play 60 Family Fest an extra 30 minutes. This gave Chanell Gaines and her children more time at all of the different stations. Her daughter grabbed some pompoms and danced with the Sea Gals.
“I’ll remember getting pictures of my children with the players and the cheerleaders,” Gaines said. “They were all very patient and generous.”
Baldwin and Bates didn’t just sit on the sidelines. They joined the fans in the jumping, running, tackling, passing and catching stations.
“It was great for people from all over the area to come out and hang out with us for a bit,” Baldwin said. “We enjoyed being able to spend time with them and throw the football around. It’s getting all of the kids and the parents excited about the season.”
“Any time you can play with kids, it’s a blessing,” Bates said. “We’re just kids like them, trying to live our dreams and help them live their dreams.”
Doc Harris Stadium was the final stop on the South 12 Tour to the Oregon Historical Society Museum in Portland, Ore., Big Al’s bowling alley, in Vancouver, and Leroy Haagen Memorial Park, in Vancouver. Bates and Baldwin will be thinking about all of the fans they met on this tour once the season starts.
“Every time I go out on the field, these people help me get better and work harder so we can do more things like this,” Bates said.
“No matter if our fans live across the world, or 100 miles from Seattle, we are going to find ways to reach out to them,” Baldwin said.
The 12th Man grew by thousands Saturday, in Camas. The overflow of smiling faces brought tears to Bates’ eyes. Baldwin said this festival reminded him of his childhood days, running around camps and looking up to professional athletes.
“I don’t believe I’m a role model. I don’t feel like a hero. I’m just a regular guy playing football,” Baldwin said. “Just to see the gleam in their eye, and to know I’m making an impact on them, means a lot to me.”