When you walk into a press room for the first time, it’s incredibly nerve-wracking. There are fancy journalists with their fancy equipment, so if you are 17 years old like I am, you start to feel very out of place. It’s like walking into the cafeteria on your first day of high school, trying to find a good place to sit down.
Well, for the March 21 We Day at Seattle’s KeyArena, I found the best place in the media room to sit down, because I sat in the first row. I was 5 feet away from where Craig Kielburger, the founder of We Day and Free the Children, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll would be talking with reporters prior to the official start of the day’s programming. I’m sure the fancy journalists hated me for that one.
Kielburger entered the room and told us about the founding and reason behind We Day, then he introduced Carroll.
My mouth dropped, and I was awestruck.
I knew I had to talk to Carroll, but when they opened up the room for questions, I couldn’t build up the courage to ask. I had been planning on asking him something, but it seems easier to speak to a Lombardi Trophy-possessing coach in your mind than it actually is.
“I’ll just wait,” I thought to myself. “I have time.”
But I didn’t have time. These question sessions are only about five to 10 minutes long — or at least it felt that way. More quickly than I had anticipated, they announced they would only take one more question.
“This is it,” I thought. “I did not wake up at 4 in the morning to ride on a bus to Seattle to not ask Pete Carroll something.”
I raised my hand and a lady handed me the microphone. Instantly, I could feel my face turning red and my voice getting quieter.
Now, keep in mind, this is from my perspective. Apparently, I didn’t actually sound like a tomato-faced child who couldn’t speak, at least according to my peers at the event. When I listened to the recording — and it took me two weeks to build up the courage to do that, and, I must add, finally hearing the recording turned my face red again — I didn’t sound socially awkward.
But at the time, I was so nervous I was shaking. The words coming out of my mouth didn’t sound like the ones I pictured in my head. I used the word “whatever” (not Alicia Silverstone style, though), and I paused for a second to think to myself, “You just used the word ‘whatever’ in a press conference, fix this!”
But in the end, I managed to pull it off. And, I must admit, Carroll did not look at me like I was a socially awkward, tomato-faced child. He looked at me like I was any other journalist, and he answered me like I was any other journalist. He respected me, which is an incredible honor to hold.
In my press conference moment, I ended up asking him why he chose We Day. He could choose any organization, he could help so many people, and he could do “whatever” he wants. I asked why he was so passionate about We Day and We Act.
He replied: “The ability of this organization’s skill to reach (out) to the kids. This is so wide open with so much freedom involved for kids to do what they feel is right to do. In so many different ways, you couldn’t ask for a better system to give people the ability to do what they do well and do what they care about and are passionate about. (We Day and We Act) do it so well and they can deliver so the kids really do get connected.
“There is no misconception, (the kids) are active, they have to be active. They are creating stuff, as well as their own ability to envision what they will be able to create as they move forward. There are so many things good about it that I will be with these guys as long as they’ll have me.”
I think this answer was inspirational enough that it was worth all the anxiety I had in asking him my question.
The excitement from talking to Pete Carroll as a journalist didn’t wear off easily. The first thing I said to my peers at the event after the press conference was “I talked with Pete Carroll!” in my giddiest and highest voice. I was in complete shock for the rest of the day. It actually lasted for a few days. Each time someone asked me about it, the excitement came back and my voice got giddy again.
But now, weeks later, it’s not as exciting. It’s settled in more, and I can see that speaking with Carroll was an honor that I am incredibly grateful for.
• Olivia Moorer is a junior at La Salle High School and a member of Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed journalism program for high school students.