Mariners D.R.E.A.M. Team Day
Several thousand students in the Seattle and Highline School Districts got a break from reading and math on Tuesday so they could get some life lessons from Seattle Mariners players.
It was the 15th Annual Mariners Education Day where the entire team, coaches and manager Eric Wedge fan out to area schools to urge the kids to become members of the Mariner Moose D.R.E.A.M. Team.
At TOPS at Seward in Seattle’s Roanoke neighborhood, students cheered loudly when their group was introduced: Brandon League, Brendan Ryan, Michael Saunders, Munenori Kawasaki, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ichiro Suzuki and hitting coach Chris Chambliss.
First up was League, the Mariners All-Star closer, who talked about the letter D, for drug-free. He told the kids that neither he nor his teammates would be where they are today if they had taken drugs.
Brendan Ryan talked about how important it is to have respect for yourself, “for your parents, your teachers,” and continuing League’s anti-drug theme, he urged the kids to “respect your bodies.”
The MC for the assembly, Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs, next introduced batting coach Chris Chambliss as a “teacher” who’s helping the team learn about hitting. Chambliss told the kids education is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. “Reading, math, social studies, everything you are learning about in school. When you learn, no one can take that away from you.”
Munenori Kawasaki a native of Japan, who’s been in the U. S. only a few months, greeted the students in English, then told them, “I grew up in Japan. My English isn’t good enough.” Kawasaki took out a Japanese to English phrase book, which got the kids laughing. Then, with the help of an interpreter, he told the students how important it is to have a good attitude. “Do the right thing with faith and conviction. When I was younger, I dreamed of playing with Ichiro. If you have a great attitude, you can achieve your dreams.”
For the letter “M,” for motivation, pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and Ichiro shared the duties. Rizzs urged the kids to be motivated to read two more books a week over the summer. Iwakuma and Ichiro held up two fingers each to show the kids what they were both challenging the students to do.
Ellie Malone, a 6th grader at TOPS at Seward, thought it was a fun event. “It was cool to have the Mariners come to our school. They had a good message about working hard and making your dreams come true.”
Nathaniel Korahais, a 3rd grader, said he liked seeing the Mariners players up close. “Brendan Ryan is my favorite player. I like the position shortstop and how good he is.”
As much fun as the kids had, the players enjoyed the afternoon as well. “This is an opportunity for us to get out in the community and share our message. The kids and the fans get to see us every night, but we don’t get a chance to see them all the time. It is fun to share our message and see all of those smiling faces and screams for us.”