Ryan Heath hurried to Eastern Washington University’s football field to get a look at the Seattle Seahawks.
Heath, 11, entered the stadium with his sister Jennifer, 13, and their cousins, Matt and Melissa Woodbridge.
They waited patiently on the bleachers of Woodward Stadium with about 20 other fans until a man jogging the stadium stairs told them the Seahawks training camp was on the practice field south of Reese Court, where about 1,000 fans were already gathered.
“What’s another five-minute walk after 12 years of waiting to see them?” said a laughing Joanne Heath, grandmother of the four children.
She has been eagerly awaiting the return of the NFL team. She brought her three sons to Cheney when they were boys, until the Seahawks moved their training camp to Kirkland in 1986.
On Wednesday, the wait finally ended.
“I’ve always loved this team,” said Cheryl Grimm, 48, who sneaked away from her job on campus to watch some of the practice. “Work ing out in Eastern Washington will get these guys in shape.
“They had better results when they started the seasons over here anyway.”
She was joined by her friend Pam McDermott, 46, who had her own motives for watching the first day of training camp.
“I just want to look at these men,” McDermott said with a wide grin. “This is so cool.
“Where’s Tez?” McDermott asked Grimm, referring to Seattle’s star lineman Cortez Kennedy.
“God, he’s huge,” McDermott said after spotting Kennedy getting instructions from the defensive line coach.
Then the two looked for running back Chris Warren.
“There he is!” Grimm said as Warren shuffled his feet from side to side in a slide drill.
Grimm and McDermott were joined by folks of all ages and both genders. A “no” vote for the new Seahawks stadium couldn’t be found in this crowd.
Kids wore Seahawks T-shirts and caps, some of which were signed by players at the end of practice.
High school- and college-aged men brought their own footballs to throw around, perhaps hoping to catch the attention of a pro scout.
Rick Giampietri and R.J. Del Mese daydreamed of being on the other side of the chain-link fence. The college football players graduated from Central Valley High School in 1996.
Giampietri, 19, plays at the University of Idaho, while Del Mese, also 19, plays at Western Washington University.
“These guys are pretty big,” said the 5-foot-10 Giampietri of the pros. “I’ve got some growing to do before I get out there.”
Finally, Ryan Heath spotted wide receiver Joey Galloway, his favorite Seahawk, going through passing drills.
Galloway sprinted 10 yards and cut right to catch a pass.
“There he is,” Heath said to his cousin Matt. “Wow, that’s my man.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color photos