Pete Carroll called it an "amazing experience" for the Seattle Seahawks to host the football team from Marysville-Pilchuck High less than a week after a shooting at the school left three students dead, including the shooter.
The high school team practiced at the Seahawks’ facility Tuesday. Carroll was there to meet the team, along with a number of players, including cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and wide receiver Doug Baldwin.
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"It was an amazing experience to feel their gratitude. They were most grateful for the opportunity to be here," Carroll said Wednesday. "Obviously, the Seahawks are a big deal to them. To see them react to Richard Sherman coming out and Earl Thomas and all the guys, and Bobby Wagner, greet them and shaking hands and taking pictures and having fun with them. It was tremendous. As always is the case, both sides receive a lot out of that kind of exchange."
Student Jaylen Fryberg opened fire at the school’s cafeteria on Friday, killing two students and wounding three others. Fryberg killed himself. Fryberg was a popular freshman who played football and was crowned homecoming royalty days before the shooting.
The team practiced for about two hours inside the Seahawks facility.
"They were kind of shocked to see us I guess a little bit," Sherman said. "They seemed like some excited kids. They seemed like for a moment in time they forgot about everything that happened and everything that was going on and were able to enjoy the moment and take pictures and smile and laugh and have a good time."
Baldwin said the experience made him think of his 12-year-old brother.
"The thing I think about a lot is that you can’t take for granted the time you can spend with him or the time you can take to talk to him," Baldwin said. "Just appreciating the people you have around you, loved ones, family members, friends, because anything can happen."
The shooting came on the day Marysville-Pilchuck was scheduled to play Oak Harbor High for a division championship. Instead of attempting to reschedule the game, Oak Harbor forfeited the game to Marysville-Pilchuck, agreeing to finish second in the division.
Carroll made a point Wednesday to highlight the generosity of Oak Harbor’s decision and said the Seahawks hope to host Oak Harbor next week. Marysville-Pilchuck is scheduled to play its first game since the shooting this Friday night.
"It does speak to the power of sport and how it is such a unifying element in our culture and you could just see it in this local community," Carroll said.