Seahawk visits students

The signs said it all — “Go Seahawks,” “Seahawks Rock,” “Hustle for Hasselbeck.”

Footballs and 12th Man banners lined the walls of Hidden Creeks Elementary’s Multi-Purpose Room on Tuesday. Students and teachers decked out in their finest Seahawk regalia waited impatiently to catch a glimpse of the real thing — a real, live Seahawk, starting defensive tackle Bryce Fisher.

And when they did, the gasps were audible. At 6-3 and 270 pounds, Fisher is hard to miss. The most surprising part of Fisher’s appearance?

His uniform — his military uniform, that is.

Fisher spoke at two assemblies. He serves in the Air National Guard, as does Lisa Dowling, a third-grade teacher at Hidden Creek. Dowling arranged for Fisher’s appearance.

Fisher, 28, told his captivated audience of his journey. After graduating from Seattle Prep, he couldn’t afford college. Although he got into every school he applied to, only the Air Force Academy offered him a scholarship.

Fisher played football all four years at the Academy and was chosen by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 1999 draft. But football had to wait, since Fisher owed the Air Force two years of active service.

The first year he worked as an assistant coach at the Academy and the second year he was the transportation officer at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

He is currently a member of the reserves, transferring to the Washington Air National Guard last November, and is the only graduate of the Air Force Academy playing in the NFL.

This is his seventh year in the league. He’s played for the Bills, the St. Louis Rams and was picked up by the Seahawks as a free agent.

“What free agency means is ‘unemployed,’” Fisher laughed.

His message to the students was simple — what you do is not who you are. You can achieve anything.

“I grew up in Renton,” Fisher said. “My mother was an immigrant from Panama and worked as a construction worker. She never finished high school. But all three of her sons got graduated from college.”

But football dominated the Q&A session that folllowed.

“How do you do both jobs at once?” asked one student.

Fisher explained his two careers. The hardest thing, he said, is balancing his schedule. He credits his wife and his new electronic calendar, located in his cell phone.

“What did you want do when you were little?”

Fisher wanted to own a gas station, to the surprise and delight of the students.

“Is (Matt) Hasselbeck nice in person?”

An emphatic “yes” from Fisher.

After living in New York, North Carolina, Atlanta and St. Louis, Fisher said he is glad to be home and hopes to settle in Seattle with his wife and daughters, aged 9 and 1.

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