When Cameron Morrah entered the gymnasium at Einstein Elementary School on Friday afternoon, the reception was closer to Hannah Montana on the squeal -o-meter than a second-year Seahawks tight end.
As Morrah waded through the assembled sea of bodies at the Redmond school in his No. 88 jersey, slapping low-fives with each and every one of the 375 students, the place went completely bonkers as those in the crowd of second- through sixth-graders shrieked and looked at one another with expressions that were equal parts glee and disbelief.
It wasn’t until Morrah began to deliver his message of perseverance and selecting the right role models to guide you through adolescence that the place got pin-drop quiet.
That was the school’s purpose in getting Morrah to speak to students, many of them from single-parent homes and low-income families.
“This was great, and I had a great time,” Morrah said after the assembly.
In large part because he had done is homework.
“I talked to my mom and brother about it before, and they gave me a few pointers,” he said. “I had a whole speech written, but once you get in front of all the kids you just kind of go off the top of your head.”
Morrah did stick to his talking points: Ask for help; stay positive; trust in role models; never doubt yourself even when others are.
But it was his story about breaking his ankle in the first game of his sophomore season at Claremont (Calif.) High School that really connected. The 6-foot-3, 244-pound Morrah weighed only 165 pounds then, and admitted he couldn’t lift 165 pounds.
Morrah told the students that he used the time away from football to get stronger – and smarter, by really focusing on his education.
The end result: A scholarship to California, a draft-day phone call from the Seahawks last year and a bright future.
During the Q&A session that followed his top-of-the-head speech, the students asked him about his favorite sport growing up (basketball), how many trophies he has won (a whole wall’s worth), what he likes to do in his free time (chill with friends and listen to music) and who inspired him (his parents, grandmother and older brother).
“I enjoy working with kids,” Morrah said. “It’s kind of my background, as far as my college education. I like helping out, and it’s always good to put a smile on kids’ faces and inspire them whenever you can.”
If the squeal-factor was any indication, mission accomplished.