Former NFL star stresses the need to mentor youth

July 3, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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Mack Strong tells Chamber of Commerce  about his foundation, TeamWorks Academy

By Jim Feehan
One positive, healthy influence in a child’s life can do wonders. For former Seattle Seahawk Mack Strong, of Newcastle, that came from his high school football coach.
During his freshman year, Strong told his coach he didn’t like getting hit on the football field and that he was going to try out for the basketball team.
The coach took him aside and asked Strong if he wanted to attend college and not pay for it.
“Stick with football,” the coach said. “Mack, I’ve seen you play basketball.”
Strong stuck with football. He went on to become the second leading rusher in Georgia high school history (second only to Herschel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy and later played in the NFL). Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Georgia, Strong played his entire 15-year career with the Seahawks. Strong was selected to the Pro Bowl twice in his career, in 2005 and 2006.
During a speech before the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce on June 10, he stressed the importance of mentoring youngsters.
“My high school coach was arguably the most important person in my life growing up,” he said.
Two years ago, Strong announced his intention to retire due to a neck injury.
“It was really a no-brainer, my decision to retire,” he said after suffering a herniated disc and having his spine fused. “I then had to start living a real life instead of living a make-believe life as a pro athlete.”
Since retiring from football, he’s gone into broadcasting with Fox Sports Northwest and radio station KJR. He also founded TeamWorks Academy with his wife, Zoe, which mentors and tutors American Indians on the Tulalip and Muckleshoot reservations.
The couple is also active with Childhaven. In April, the Strongs received the Mark Matthews Service to Children Award at Childhaven’s centennial celebration. The award is presented in honor of the Rev. Mark Matthews, who founded the Seattle Day Nursery in 1909. The name was changed to Childhaven in 1985.
The Strongs also participated in last fall’s Tackle Child Abuse, a fundraising event involving the Seahawks and benefiting Childhaven.
Strong said he always appreciated the mentors in his life. He encourages children to work hard, invest in relationships and never give up.
As an undrafted free agent in 1993, Strong said he learned a great deal from veteran teammates.
“I appreciated having someone taking me under their wings,” he said. “When I played football, I played to win. Every kid can be a winner if he works hard, invests in friends and never gives up.”
One positive, healthy influence in a child’s life can do wonders. For former Seattle Seahawk Mack Strong, of Newcastle, that came from his high school football coach.

Former Seattle Seahawk Mack Strong, of Newcastle, discusses the importance of mentoring youngsters with City Councilwoman Lisa Jensen. Contributed

Former Seattle Seahawk Mack Strong, of Newcastle, discusses the importance of mentoring youngsters with City Councilwoman Lisa Jensen. Contributed

During his freshman year, Strong told his coach he didn’t like getting hit on the football field and that he was going to try out for the basketball team.

The coach took him aside and asked Strong if he wanted to attend college and not pay for it.
“Stick with football,” the coach said. “Mack, I’ve seen you play basketball.”
Strong stuck with football. He went on to become the second leading rusher in Georgia high school history (second only to Herschel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy and later played in the NFL). Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Georgia, Strong played his entire 15-year career with the Seahawks. Strong was selected to the Pro Bowl twice in his career, in 2005 and 2006.

During a speech before the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce on June 10, he stressed the importance of mentoring youngsters.
“My high school coach was arguably the most important person in my life growing up,” he said.
Two years ago, Strong announced his intention to retire due to a neck injury.
“It was really a no-brainer, my decision to retire,” he said after suffering a herniated disc and having his spine fused. “I then had to start living a real life instead of living a make-believe life as a pro athlete.”
Since retiring from football, he’s gone into broadcasting with Fox Sports Northwest and radio station KJR. He also founded TeamWorks Academy with his wife, Zoe, which mentors and tutors American Indians on the Tulalip and Muckleshoot reservations.
The couple is also active with Childhaven. In April, the Strongs received the Mark Matthews Service to Children Award at
Childhaven’s centennial celebration. The award is presented in honor of the Rev. Mark Matthews, who founded the Seattle Day Nursery in 1909. The name was changed to Childhaven in 1985.
The Strongs also participated in last fall’s Tackle Child Abuse, a fundraising event involving the Seahawks and benefiting Childhaven.
Strong said he always appreciated the mentors in his life. He encourages children to work hard, invest in relationships and never give up.
As an undrafted free agent in 1993, Strong said he learned a great deal from veteran teammates.
“I appreciated having someone taking me under their wings,” he said. “When I played football, I played to win. Every kid can be a winner if he works hard, invests in friends and never gives up.”

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2 Responses to “Former NFL star stresses the need to mentor youth”

  1. Rosemary Aubrey on September 22nd, 2009 10:25 am

    My son is a Sophmore at Kentridge High School and is on their football team. He’s been raised by a single mom all his life, me – there’s only so much influencing “Mom” can do. I am desperately trying to look for a mentor for him, like Mack Strong, who can talk to him and motivate him to work hard, stay focused, and never give up. It’s been tough! I want him to be successful, and I know he wants to be too. He desperately needs a successful male role model who can motivate him, someone he can really look up to. If you know how I can arrange a meeting with him and Mack Strong, or someone very much like him, that would be GREATLY appreciated. I will not give up on my son, and I sure as heck don’t want him to give up on himself either. Thank you in advance. Rosemary – 206-890-4235

  2. Rita Williams on November 22nd, 2009 6:08 am

    I agree with Rosemary I too am a single mom who is looking for a mentor for my son. Their is only so much that a mom can do. My son is a good child he plays basketball and he is good at what he does. Some times he does get discourage because he don’t have what he needs in his life he don’t really say much so you don’t always know whats going on he is 6’2 but he just needs more and sometimes people make promises and they don’t keep them. We forget the bridge that brought us over and then that discourages the child.So Mack Strong if you are listening and you understand how it feels please email me at ritamaewilliams@yahoo.com or anyone who is willing to reach out. Thank you in advance

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