STOCKBRIDGE — Stockbridge High head football coach Kevin Whitley achieved a lifelong dream last week when he got to attend NFL mini-camp with the Seattle Seahawks.
The longtime coach spent all week with the organization in Renton, Wash. Whitley said he received the opportunity through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. The program’s objective is to use NFL training camps and mini-camps as opportunities for high school coaches to observe and gain experience at the highest level.
Whitley said that he had free reign during the week-long session.
“It’s just about through the years trying to build my network, years of networking,” Whitley said. “The opportunity was through the Bill Walsh Minority Internship, I just continued writing letters and it came through. I was there a week. It was no holds barred, do everything everybody else is doing. I was there from 5 a.m. in the morning to 10 p.m. at night.”
Whitley had access to every coach and player and sat in on all coaching meetings. He spent most of his time with the defense, especially secondary coach Nick Sorenson.
“The biggest thing I took away is just I think the culture that coach (Pete) Carroll has created is the biggest deal,” Whitley said. “Having been in environments like that before, it’s usually really intense. He makes it a different type of atmosphere. It’s different than the average person thinks.”
Whitley said he wasn’t starstruck because he is confident in his football knowledge. If he was comfortable speaking on a certain subject, Whitley said he had no problem getting in the mix. Otherwise, he was all ears, soaking in the wealth of knowledge.
“It was all about listening and learning, I feel like sometimes guys try to do too much in that situation,” he said. “The biggest thing for me, I feel like I have a good knowledge of football — football is football it’s just learning the language. If I had some input to give then I gave it. I wasn’t going to give input if I didn’t know.”
Whitley is entering his 10th season at Stockbridge. The Tigers are 71-13 since 2011 and have reached the state playoffs in each of those seasons. Whitley is one of the most accomplished coaches in the state, but spending time with an NFL franchise only reaffirmed his career goals.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, the goal is to hopefully do that permanently even in college,” Whitley said. “I’ve had opportunities to do it, it just wasn’t the right opportunity. I’ve turned down a few chances over the years. If the right opportunity comes along, yes.
“I wasn’t intimidated because it’s football, it’s what I know,” he continued. “It’s a great experience. I don’t think a lot of high school coaches get the chance, so I just wanted to take the full opportunity.”