Pacific alumnus Pete Carroll: “We must respond now”

Pete Carroll

Pete Carroll ’73, ’78 is the head coach of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks.

Pete Carroll ’73, ’78 is clear about the racial and social justice issues facing the United States.

“We cannot miss this opportunity. We cannot go through another cycle where we don’t take the action needed,” he said. “I don’t know how we could live with it if we don’t respond now.”

Carroll, head coach of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks, touched on many topics during his hour-long talk on Sept. 29 as part of the Pacific Alumni Association’s Leading Voices speaker series.

Almost 400 virtual attendees—many of them students—heard the Pacific alumnus expound on his ongoing messages about supporting people of color and righting racial inequities.

“People of color have suffered so much for so many years and have had to hang tough just to endure, just to survive,” Carroll said. “This is a topic where a lot of people need to get into the discussion. They need to learn how to hear and see things that have been right there before us throughout our lives and through hundreds of years before.

“There were enormous changes that happened in the 1860s, and enormous changes in the 1960s. Well, none of those have brought forward the changes that were truly necessary and that are still necessary today. But this is a new time for us, and there is a new awareness to listen to people of color and the issues they have dealt with.”

Carroll’s racial justice messages have been shared on a podcast with Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr. Carroll, Kerr and San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich also spoke on a national panel that included New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

“This is a new time for us. And 2020 has brought a new awareness,” Carroll said. “I’m talking to white people, and there is a new day ahead of us, a time for a new empathy that is out there if we will listen. Black people need us to come through.”

Carroll is in his 11th season as the Seahawks’ head coach. He previously coached nine years at the University of Southern California and had previous NFL head coaching jobs with the New York Jets and New England Patriots. His teams have won one Super Bowl (Seattle, 2013) and two college national championships (Southern California, 2003, 2004). As a Pacific student, he played defensive back.

Carroll addressed other topics:

On motivation: “If you really do believe in yourself, and you have a true sense of that, you can withstand anything. You can find the resiliency that is necessary to go ahead in a positive direction.”

On current challenges for students:  “What we have found over the years is you can help someone find their passion. If you can help instill a reason to hope, then they can have the resilience to bounce back and overcome the odds.”

On leadership: “I’m looking for people who have an undying desire to prove that they are worthy. There is a connection between high achievement and the inner drive to prove that you belong that takes people well beyond height, weight, speed, talent, whatever. I am looking for great competitors with grit.”

On his Pacific education: “It was during my graduate courses when the light turned on. The classes I took were life-changing. That was a golden time in there when so many things happened. I owe so much to (professors) Glen Albaugh and Larry Meredith. They helped me awaken to what was going on in sports. And my philosophy has grown from that time.”