If the Seattle Seahawks make it to their third consecutive Super Bowl, they’ll have to win two more games on the road. That's a real possibility for a talented team that’s heating up heading into the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Starbucks partner (employee) Mhkeeba Pate is among the hundreds of thousands of fans who are counting on the Seahawks maintaining their momentum on the road throughout the playoffs. Pate is hopeful she’ll be on the sidelines February 7 in Santa Clara, California. If that happens, it will be Pate’s third consecutive Super Bowl, too.
In addition to working for Starbucks since last spring as a paralegal, Pate is a member of the Sea Gals, the Seahawks’ cheerleading squad, which supports the team during home games and, when the opportunity presents itself, at the Super Bowl.
The 38-year-old Seattle native brings a unique background to the 29-member crew. A mother of two, Pate has both an MBA and law degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. A gymnast and track and field competitor in high school, she declined to pursue an in-state athletic scholarship in favor of an academic scholarship at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
These days, when she’s not drafting and negotiating purchase agreements for Starbucks, raising children, working out and making appearances as a Sea Gal, she’s writing a novel inspired by her football experiences.
“Becoming a New York Times bestseller is my next ambition,” Pate said with a laugh. “It’s just as crazy as becoming a Sea Gal.”
Overcoming Long Odds
Pate considered trying out for the track team when she arrived at Georgetown, but opted instead to become a cheerleader for the university’s football and basketball teams. She put cheerleading behind her – seemingly for good – after receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2000. Next came Temple and then a career that emphasizes her legal expertise. In 2005, her son Quentin arrived, followed by daughter Simone two years later.
Despite a full plate, Pate found herself drawn to the Seahawks, her favorite team. She wanted to stay fit and found working out was a grind without a goal to motivate her. Unlike many cheerleaders, Pate wasn’t a trained dancer, but she loved to move and figured she could get the hang of the routines if she worked at it long enough.
“I called it my mini midlife crisis, but it was really just my epiphany that I was missing something that I loved doing,” she recalled. “I was a mom and I had this great career, but what did I enjoy before all of this? I love football and I looked online and saw that auditions were coming. I started to prepare and I’d say to my friends, ‘Just watch me dance and tell me if I’m crazy.’ I set the goal and, despite some odds against me, I thought I could do it.”
Pate came up short in the final selection round three years in a row, and finally made the team in 2011. Sea Gals have to audition each year and Pate wasn’t selected in 2012, but she’s become a stalwart member of the squad through the past three seasons, which happen to be the most successful stretch in team history.
Pate said she’s found a welcoming work home at Starbucks, which affords her scheduling flexibility to suit her sideline interest. Starbucks headquarters is less than a mile from CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks home field, and she’s surrounded by devotees of the team who wear hometown blue jerseys on the Fridays before games.
“They really get into it at Starbucks,” Pate said. “They fly the 12th Man flag over the building! I felt right at home right away.”
Starbucks Celebrates the Hometown Team
Starbucks stores in Western Washington are celebrating the hometown partnership between Starbucks and the Seahawks by offering free “12” wristbands for customers (while supplies last in participating company-owned stores).
Beast Mode Frappuccino will continue being offered through the post-season with 24 cents per beverage donated to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s Fam1st Foundation.
Starbucks baristas are receiving “I’m In” posters courtesy of the Seahawks and will commemorate Blue Fridays and game days by wearing Legion of Brew T-shirts and other Seahawks gear.