Mentors showed Hasselbeck the way

Sports are great for developing self-esteem as well as toughening us up for what the world has to offer throughout out lives. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck took the time recently to recall which coaches have helped turn him into the player he is today as well as what they had to offer outside of the game that consumes so much of his life...

First and foremost was his own father, Don Hasselbeck, a former NFL tight end and the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks noted that his dad's intensity and drive are what really influenced him most.

"My dad was my little league football coach and I'm sure some of the parents thought ‘this guy is too competitive, this guy's too intense' and things like that, but we were winning, we were having fun, we were getting better, we were growing and we were like ‘our coach believes in us, he expects more from us'," Hasselbeck recalled while talking to Brock Huard and Mike Salk on KIRO 710 AM. "We did these pushups where it was however old you were, that's how many pushups you needed to do and it was a little tough, but then the next year it was ‘you have to do double your age' and it was a challenge and it was like ‘this coach thinks we can do it, so let's do it' and again some of the parents were probably like ‘that's a little too much, you don't need to be doing 35 pushups at that age', but it was great and I think that's what's great about sports -- you learn about yourself, you learn about how far you can be pushed, how much you can go for it and you build confidence and those kinds of things."

Shortly after graduating from high school, Hasselbeck received a scholarship from Boston College where he was under the tutelage of ultra-intense, old-school Tom Coughlin who is the current head coach of the New York Giants.

"I can remember my first year at Boston College, I was a freshman and Tom Coughlin was the head coach and I remember thinking ‘this guy is either crazy or he's one of the greatest coaches of all time' and it was probably both," Hasselbeck recalled. "But he developed so much character in that freshman class and after I got through that year I was like ‘if I can survive that then I can survive anything'."

Hasselbeck went on to be drafted by the Green Bay Packers where he was introduced to the NFL way by Mike Holmgren.

"I have the utmost respect for Mike Holmgren and the stuff that I've learned (from him)," Hasselbeck noted. "We were together for a good chunk of time, but I feel like I've learned so much. There's been things already that have popped up, watching cut-ups of other quarterbacks around the league, and they're struggling and I find myself saying to myself ‘oh man, if they just did it the way Mike says to do it, they would be successful' but I feel that way with every coach I've had.

"Whether it's my first quarterback coach, Gary Crowton, who went on to be a great head coach or Dirk Koetter who's now in Jacksonville or Dan Henning who invented the ‘Wildcat' in Miami or Andy Reid, the list goes on and on, I just feel like I've picked up little things from each person, technique-wise, big-picture-wise and how to study an opponent and then I put guys like Jim Zorn and Mike Holmgren in the category of showing me how to be a better husband, how to be a better father, how to be a better teammate and a leader in the locker room and I think those are things that a lot of the quarterback coaches out there won't coach that, but that was something that Mike Holmgren would coach and Jim Zorn would coach on that and teach on that and those are things that will last longer than football."

Hasselbeck is now in year two without Zorn, who he spent the most time with once he arrived in Seattle. The two have a great relationship according to the Seahawks signal-caller, but that doesn't mean things always went smoothly.

"That first year, (he and his wife Sarah) had our first child, I was hurt, I was so far away from home and he was coaching me on things other than football," Hasselbeck said. "It's funny, because Jim and I got along so well and Mike was really, really hard on me, but there was a moment when, Trent Dilfer was actually the starting quarterback that season, and Jim and I really got into it at practice and he might have even kicked me out of practice, it was really ugly, and when that happened, Mike Holmgren, for the very first time, he came over and he was the big brother all of the sudden. I had never seen that side of him, so I think at times it was 'good cop, bad cop', but it was great having a guy like Jim coaching you because he's so competitive.

"We would do these drills, like it's a quarterback challenge and he'd always have a football just to prove he could still sling it and it was fun, it was competitive, it really didn't feel like work at times even though it was and he has a lot of wisdom and experience to draw from."

Turning his thoughts to the upcoming season without two of his mentors, Hasselbeck says so far he believes the team is putting in the work necessary to rebound from a 4-12 season.

"I think right now the feeling is great about the team," Hasselbeck, who plans to swim across the Columbia River within the next two weeks said. "Everyone has really put in the effort this offseason. We report July 31st and everyone has been working real hard these six weeks on our own, wherever their hometown is or wherever they've been working out and they get to come back and show off what they've done.

"We've got a conditioning test on the 31st, we weigh in, we've got a body fat test, we have our first practice and you can send a message without saying a word, you can send it to your teammates, to the coaches, to everybody and say ‘I've really put the work in, how about you?' and I think the feeling is that everybody's really bought it and put the work in. Everybody's going to show up feeling good and being in shape. I think our coaches have really pushed us and we've answered the call."

And that's all you can ask as a coach and a mentor.


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