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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

March 3, 2014 at 4:30 AM

Russell Wilson: Seahawks quarterback had charisma even at 18

Russell Wilson, right,  with his football coach, Charlie McFall, in June 2007 at graduation from Collegiate School in Richmond, Va.

Russell Wilson, right, with his football coach, Charlie McFall, in June 2007 at graduation from Collegiate School in Richmond, Va.

By Mike Harris / The Washington Times

In a previous lifetime as sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, one of the more enjoyable duties was serving as master of ceremonies at the end-of-the-school-year banquet honoring the area’s best high school athletes.

The 2007 choice as the paper’s high school athlete of the year?

Russell Wilson, a multi-sport star at Collegiate School who was headed to North Carolina State to play football even though many figured his future was in professional baseball.

Before the event started, Wilson sought me out.

“Mr. Harris,” he said, “I’d like to give a short speech.”

It normally wasn’t done. That’s a tough spot for a high school student. But something made me say “sure” and I’m sure glad I did.

A teammate’s father had died in a plane crash not long before the banquet. Wilson spoke for 10 minutes about what the man, a local oncologist named Chris Desch, meant to him, meant to Desch’s family and meant to the team. His talk moved the entire room.

Only 18, he had more charisma than anyone in the banquet hall and that included a number of high-profile college fooball coaches.

Read the complete opinion piece about Russell Wilson here.

Mike Harris is the sports editor of The Washington Times and a former sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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