As the Seattle Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s Super Bowl, Zach Wasielewski, a Skanska senior project engineer in Seattle, is savoring his Seahawks memories. In 2007, after finishing his senior season as an offensive lineman for the Eastern Washington University Eagles, he began hearing interest from NFL teams. Among them were the Seahawks, the team he grew up cheering for in Washington state.
“Some of my teammates and I were invited for a workout in front of scouts, along with about 50 other guys from the region that all played college ball,” Wasielewski said. “During the last round of the NFL draft that year, I received a call from the Seahawks telling me that they wanted me to come into the spring camp that next week to, essentially, try out for a spot as an offensive right tackle.”
Here is Zach (on the right, facing the camera) in a still shot from a local TV news broadcast of spring camp.
This wasn’t a fantasy camp. When Wasielewski arrived at the Seahawks’ practice facility north of Seattle, it was clear from the start that it was a major league experience.
“The tryout was a really cool experience,” Wasielewski said. “The facilities were some of the best I had ever seen. The whole thing took place over a span of three days, with two practices Friday and Saturday, followed by one practice on Sunday. Coach Mike Holmgren was there, and Matt Hasselbeck was our quarterback. I was practicing against the likes of defensive ends Red Bryant – who was just a beast of a man – Jason Babin and Lawrence Jackson, as well as linebackers Darryl Tapp and Lofa Tatupu. During the tryout, I was playing behind offensive tackle Sean Locklear.”
Being in the mix with star athletes would be a thrill for any fan, but Wasielewski recalled another favorite moment.
“I’ll never forget how awesome it felt when I took my practice jersey out of the locker and it had my last name on it,” Wasielewski said. “I can’t explain the proud, nervous, excited feeling that took over my body when I walked out of the locker room dressed for practice.”
Wearing another type of hard hat
Despite leaving a good impression on Seahawks coaches and players, timing and circumstance meant the end of Wasielewski ’s shot of a pro career. He looks back with no regrets. In fact, he sees ways that his football career has helped prepare him for life on Skanska’s job sites.
“Football helped me develop into a more disciplined person,” he said. “My coach always stressed the ‘little things’ and told me that being good at what you do is a lifestyle choice, not something you just turn on and off. That sounds a lot like how Skanska approaches our Injury-Free Environment® culture.”
The similarities go on.
“Dealing with change is another,” Wasielewski said. “I can remember practicing certain plays all week, just to get into the game and having to adjust them. That’s just like the curve balls that get thrown in construction, and how you have to change your plan and keep marching forward.”
“Another common theme is the strength of communication. As an offensive lineman, I was making calls identifying linebackers, warning my teammates of a potential blitz and more. Being a general contractor is similar: communicating with your trade partners, vendors and others about changes in conditions, relaying a game plan and changes to the game plan.”
More than anything, Wasielewski thinks his football experience taught him how to deal with adversity.
“Sometimes you get behind, and what makes the difference is how you respond to adversity,” he said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of comebacks, and the key thing, every time, is to keep believing and keep doing your job the right way. The truth is, things happen from time to time that no one was anticipating that can affect or even stop work. Those are the moments to stay positive, do your job and work hard to control the things that are within your control. That’s how you come back and win.”