As Dennise Fredrickson pulled into the drive-through lane at the Sunset Boulevard Starbucks in Renton, she had no idea who was about to deliver her daily espresso.
It was Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who “worked” an hour-long shift – and also worked the room – on Tuesday afternoon as part of the partnership between the Seahawks and Starbucks to benefit his A Better Seattle program.
“I had no idea Pete was going to be here,” a still-stunned Frederickson said as she pulled away from the drive-through window. “I go to Starbucks once a day. I was in line and thought I saw him from a distance and I said, ‘Is that Pete Carroll?’ ”
The obvious answer: Of course not, because the coach of the Seahawks was at Virginia Mason Athletic Center putting together the game plan for Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch with the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field. But just as obviously, this was indeed a special occasion.
“Oh my gosh, this is so exciting,” Fredrickson said.
Needless to say, this was not just another Tuesday afternoon at the Sunset Starbucks.
Carroll, wearing a green Starbucks apron with a “Pete” name tag, greeted a gathering of 150 or so fans who packed the joint. He posed for pictures and autographed everything from footballs, to jerseys, to the bill of a visor, to the special Starbucks cards that also are helping raise funds for A Better Seattle.
Then Carroll really got busy. He took orders and passed out drinks from behind the counter. He took a couple of turns at the drive-through window. A one point, the crowd broke into “Happy Birthday to You,” because Monday was Carroll’s birthday.
“We’ve had so much fun with the 12s, and we’ve had a great interaction and exchange over the years, it’s just great to be able to give back to them,” Carroll said. “They give so much to us. We give back as much as we can. But you get to get this close and connected and have fun with it, it’s really a great joy.”
“Guest Barista” Tuesday also was played out at nine other Starbucks locations as linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was at the University Village store; left tackle Russell Okung was at the Starbucks on NE 44th in Renton, just across I-405 from VMAC; tight end Luke Willson was at the Russell Investments Center in Seattle; linebacker Mike Morgan was at the Starbucks on Martin Luther King Jr. Way; kicker Steven Hauschka was at the Rose Hill Starbucks in Kirkland; wide receiver Bryan Walters was at the Starbucks on NE 8th in Bellevue; defensive lineman Greg Scruggs was the Union Station outlet in Seattle; defensive back DeShawn Shead was at the Southcenter Starbucks; and defensive lineman D’Anthony Smith was at the South Jackson location in Seattle.
“This is a great thing for the entire community and all of Seattle, and just a great thing to be partnered with A Better Seattle and with Pete Carroll and the Seahawks,” said Carol Wise, Starbucks vice president of regional operations. “What a cool thing that customers can come into their local Starbucks, get a Starbucks card that’s a Seahawks card and with every purchase you donate 25 cents to A Better Seattle.
“So by doing what you do every day, you give back to local youth in the community. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Last year, the Seahawks version of the Starbucks cards raised $50,000 for A Better Seattle. This year, when the program runs through Sunday, the goal is $75,000.
“Thanks to all of our customers, all the Seahawks’ fans and to coach Carroll for making this possible,” Wise said.
The real winners in all of this are the organizations that A Better Seattle supports, especially the YMCA’s Alive & Free program.
“Alive & Free has been around for a little over 11 years in the city of Seattle,” said Sean Goode, Alive & Well outreach supervisor. “A couple of years ago, we had the opportunity to move into South King County. There’s such a pressing need there, but the cities in the south don’t have the same resources that the city of Seattle does.
“So enter Coach Carroll. A Better Seattle has been able to fund outreach to youth who had been able to receive the services in Seattle but now live in South King County cities – the cities of Auburn, Renton, Tukwila, Kent and SeaTac. And it’s excellent because now we can provide outreach workers to actual engage young people where they’re at, connect them with services and get them out of the lifestyles that they’re really use to.”
Goode then paused and glanced across the room at Carroll before adding, “It’s really significant, because in absence of coach Carroll and A Better Seattle we would not be able to do this work in South King County in the way that we’ve been able to do it.”
Just don’t tell the fans who flocked to see Pete Carroll that they weren’t the real winners.
“This was great,” Heidi Kirk said.
She and her friend, Chris Kerr, had just flown back from San Diego, where they attended the Seahawks game against the Chargers on Sunday. When they stopped by the Pro Shop at The Landing in Renton to buy a birthday gift, they discovered via Facebook the Carroll was just up the street.
“So here we are,” Kirk said. “And Pete signed my ticket from the San Diego game.”