By Rachel Terrill, Player Engagement Insider
Growing up in Massachusetts, Seattle Seahawks kicker Steve Hauschka never dreamt that he would be an NFL player. In fact, an accomplished soccer player, he didn’t play football until his sophomore year at Middlebury College in Vermont. Against the odds, after attending North Carolina State as a graduate student and kicking for Wolfpack, Hauschka has forged a successful NFL career – and a way to make a difference.
Now in his ninth NFL season, Hauschka knows as well as anyone that one stroke of bad luck can leave you without a job and without a place to call home.
Before landing with the Seahawks in 2011, he was signed and released by five NFL teams. Not only has he set records as the franchise’s best kicker – he’s also the team’s best Ping-Pong player.
Ping-pong is so much a part of the Seahawks culture that two tables are setup in their locker room and they are almost always in use. For the players, it’s more than a game - they play to win. And Hauschka? He’s the best player on the team.
So, what do you do with a prowess for ping-pong when you’re an NFL player? You use your platform to make a difference. And that’s just what Hauschka is doing.
This season, Hauschka hosted his Second-Annual Celebrity Ping-Pong Tournament where they raised over $28,000 for Mary’s Place, which provides shelter and support for homeless families. Hauschka and his teammates, joined by Seahawks Legends and other celebrities including teammates center Justin Britt, cornerback DeShawn Shead, long snapper Nolan Frese, and defensive end Michael Bennett, publicly debuted their ping-pong prowess at West Club at CenturyLink Field.
Fans watched as the Seahawks players and other celebrities competed in a single-elimination tournament. Some lucky fans even hopped into the action. Once again, much to his teammates’ chagrin (though not to their surprise), Hauschka was victorious among all the athletes in attendance – keeping his title safe for at least another year. But to Hauschka, it was more than just a night of fun with his teammates and fans, it was also his chance to give back.
It is estimated that there are more than 500 homeless families in Seattle. Funds from Hauschka’s tournament benefited Mary’s Place and their No Child Sleeps Outside campaign. The goal of the campaign is to “move families out of encampments, doorways and cars and into safe emergency shelters.”
Hauschka and his wife, Lindsey, are passionate about this cause. In addition to their ping-pong fundraiser, the Hauschkas attend other Mary’s Place fundraisers to help provide safe places for the homeless to sleep including their BINGO night. Lindsey also attends the Seahawks Women’s Association’s Day of Service with other Seahawks wives, serving lunch to the homeless at various Mary’s Place locations.
“We love the work Mary’s Place does for women and families in the Seattle area,” Lindsey said. “Their work is especially important this time of year when the weather turns colder in Seattle. Our city’s homeless population continues to grow and Mary’s Place provides safe lodging and other services for this vulnerable population.”
Both on the field kicking field goals for the Seahawks and in the locker room exhibiting his ping-pong prowess, Hauschka is the best. But combining ping-pong and his fellow NFL players to provide safe shelters for the homeless – that makes him even better.