Master Sergeant Traci Williams is hard to keep up with. Before the Veteran’s Day Seahawks game on November 11th, she was running in a million directions; leaving tickets for a volunteer, gathering cell phones for the troops, making last minute plans for an on-field re-enlistment, and organizing the ultimate surprise, reuniting a soldier from Afghanistan with his wife and daughter. To handle so many logistics in such a short amount of time should be overwhelming. But for Traci, the co-founder of the Military Sea Hawkers booster club, the first woman to ever lead the Seahawks out of the tunnel, and the first to appear on a Topps’ trading card – it’s all in a day’s work.
It all started in 2001, when Traci was deployed to Kosovo. Feeling frustrated that the AFN (American Forces Network) was only playing East Coast football games, she had an idea. She decided to start an online Seahawks booster club as a way to stay informed of all the Seahawks action while on deployment. After getting permission from Mike Flood, VP of Community Outreach for the Seattle Seahawks, the Military Sea Hawkers was born. With an initial membership of 15 at it’s inception in 2002, the Military Sea Hawkers now boasts more than 700 members.
Not long after establishing the Military Sea Hawkers, Traci was up for re-enlistment, and she wanted to do it at the same place she watched her favorite team play football. After receiving permission, “as long as she handled the logistics”, Traci was proud to have a two-star general re-enlist her on the field. As word spread, more and more people asked to re-enlist in this manner. Now, this ceremony has become a frequent site at Centurylink.
In 2008, Traci received a call from Mike Flood saying that the Topps Company was going to do a football trading card for the Armed Forces fan of the game. They were offering this to all 32 NFL teams as an insert into the Topp’s card packs. Traci was thrilled to hear about this, and while speaking to Mike, even offered to help them pick a worthy soldier. What she didn’t realize, is that they called because SHE was the one chosen to be on the card. When I congratulated her on such an accomplishment, she humbly laughed it off. “Some poor kid in Florida”, she laughed, “is opening a pack of football cards and asking, who is Traci Williams?”. When all was said and done, Traci became the very first female to appear on a Topps’ card.
Another great honor was bestowed on Traci in the Fall of 2010. Once again receiving a call that she didn’t know was meant for her, Traci offered to help the team find a worthy person to lead the Seahawks out of the tunnel for the Veteran’s Day game. This was a huge honor, for there had never been any non-player to do this before. Yet again, what she didn’t realize is that they wanted HER to lead them out. As we talked about what an amazing honor this was, she agreed and added, “the players kept teasing me and telling me not to fall in those big combat boots, or they might run me over”.
It was such a privilege for me to get to spend Veteran’s Day with such an admirable woman. For all the accomplishments that I’ve mentioned, there is one trait that impressed me the most. The morning was busy and chaotic, as Traci worked to get everything organized before game time. Amidst all this chaos, we constantly passed Seahawks fans that knew Traci, and stopped to say hi. I knew she was in a rush, but she always stopped what she was doing, asked how they were doing and shook their hand. It was easy to see how much everyone likes and admires her.
It seems even Blitz is a fan.
For more information on joining the Military Sea Hawkers, visit their website at www.militaryseahawkers.com.
Other Moments from the Veteran’s Day Ceremonies at Centurylink Field: