Community

University of Washington football coach Sarkisian highlights annual Breakfast for Kids

From left to right: King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer, University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian, and EX3 Ron Sandwith Teen Center executive director Shelley Puariea. - Courtesy of Chrislyn Tust
From left to right: King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer, University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian, and EX3 Ron Sandwith Teen Center executive director Shelley Puariea.
— image credit: Courtesy of Chrislyn Tust

The 17th annual Breakfast for Kids raised about $60,000 to support youth programs in the Federal Way/Auburn Boys and Girls Club.

The event, held April 14 at Emerald Downs, featured keynote speaker Steve Sarkisian, the new head football coach at the University of Washington.

Sarkisian, who is just 35 years old, shared stories of "teachable moments" from his past that led to success.

Sarkisian credits much of his success to simply getting a chance to compete and prove himself.

Sarkisian grew up the youngest of seven children. At age 18, Sarkisian was ready to walk away from sports when his hard-working father sat him down for a lesson in being focused and overachieving.

The conversation was a wake-up call, he said. Afterward, Sarkisian returned to play quarterback at El Camino Junior College, then played for Brigham Young University in the Cotton Bowl, then played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League for three years. He soon started coaching quarterbacks with University of Southern California (including Carson Palmer) and the NFL's Oakland Raiders (including Rich Gannon).

"It's been an unbelievable ride I've been on," he said. "I've never once settled for what's supposed to happen. Whatever's supposed to happen doesn't mean that's what has to happen."

On that note, he sees an opportunity to build a winning mindset for the University of Washington football team. This approach also translates to helping youth, he said.

"We've got to change the way we think today," he said. "Our youth and the kids we deal with get faced with so many adversities in life. It takes us as their mentors to support them and get through those adverse times."

He added: "It's not always about the dollar bills. It's the experiences you give them."

Also at the fundraising breakfast, Federal Way AmeriCorps volunteer and Thomas Jefferson High School alumnus Teo Friedeck sang the national anthem. Alexa Hartman, the Boys and Girls Club 2008 Youth of the Year, delivered a speech about what the club has meant to her. Jeff Stokes of Stokes Auction group served as master of ceremonies.

At the breakfast, King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer reiterated Sarkisian's example of having a winning attitude and how that applies to investing in South King County's youth: "With all the talk of economic stimulus packages, it is the community coming together that creates a social stimulus package for those who need our help the most.”

Learn more

To learn more about the Federal Way/Auburn Boys and Girls Club, visit www.fw-bgc.org or call (206) 954-2926. Also e-mail Shelley Puariea at spuariea@positiveplace.org

To learn more about the EX3 Ron Sandwith Teen Center, call (253) 681-6500.

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