Dyami Seehorn, 18, a disabled senior at Monroe High School, has been writing about high school games for years.
But last week, he got to cover a much bigger game.
A story he wrote for the Monroe Monitor caught the eye of KOMO 4 sports reporter Eric Johnson, who coordinated a visit to the opening game of the Mariners season, where Seehorn got VIP seating, got to meet many sports dignitaries, and was given the opportunity to write a sports story for the television station.
The story began when Seehorn, then 17, contacted the Monroe Monitor late last year to inquire about doing his culminating project with the paper. In order to graduate, each high school student is required to explore a career of interest with a mentor from that field, and Seehorn wants to write about sports.
The challenges that Seehorn faced were tougher than those experienced by most students.
Seehorn has severe spasticity related to his disability. He moves about by means of a motorized wheelchair and speaks with difficulty. He can’t type using a typical keyboard. Rather, he types by means of a computer system. He has a tablet computer attached to his wheelchair, and controls it with two pads placed to either side of his head. By moving his head side to side, and using the predictive text program on his computer, he is able to communicate, and to write sports stories.
Seehorn has also found many ways to work around his disability; while he can’t jot down notes quickly during a game as do many reporters, he is able view recordings as needed on his computer.
Seehorn worked on the project for several weeks, studying professional sports writers and eventually producing his own sports piece, “WESCO Basketball Showdown,” for the Monroe Monitor, which ran Jan. 21.
The work was of sufficient merit that Seehorn was offered the opportunity to write more for the paper again if he wished.
In mid-March, he turned in another piece.
This one wasn’t about a local game. It was about his experience of trying to see the Seahawks’ triumphant homecoming parade that drew more than 700,000 people downtown.
He was frustrated that he wasn’t able to see the parade because no one would let his wheelchair through. He wrote a piece called “Trying to watch a parade in a wheelchair” and it ran March 11, folded into a larger editorial called “Sidelined: Seahawks Parade Fail.”
A couple weeks after it ran, KOMO reporter Eric Johnson contacted the Monroe Monitor with a story idea.
Johnson, who himself was once a hopeful young sports writer, felt bad that Seehorn hadn’t gotten to see the parade, and was interested in his story. He asked if the Monitor would be interested in covering a story in which Seehorn got to be a guest of the Mariners on the opening day of the season.
Assured that such a story would be of considerable interest to the Monitor, Johnson reached out to Seehorn.
He explained that he would like to do a television story about Seehorn getting to see the Mariners and meet some of the press, and then Seehorn could write about the experience, and the Monitor would run his story.
“I think it would be a fantastic experience for all parties involved. I need to warn you that it’s not a done deal yet…the Mariners said they would get back to me after they consider the idea,” he cautioned.
The next day, Johnson hadn’t heard from Seehorn. He contacted the Monitor; the Monitor, concerned, contacted the high school, and Seehorn’s teacher soon wrote back.
Seehorn had just opened his email, and was reportedly beside himself with excitement.
The Mariners did agree to host Seehorn, and the story was on.
Johnson, prior to the game, visited Seehorn at his home.
“We went to his house and interviewed him and his step-dad,” he said. “Their home was like a Seattle sports shrine.”
Seehorn’s interest in sports is lifelong, said Seehorn’s stepfather Jerry.
“Sports mean everything to him,” he said. “He himself plays baseball for the Miracle League. I would give anything if he could just run and jump like everyone else. But he knows he can’t. So sports are kind of a release for him.”
Seehorn said that his interest in sports also stems from the memories of his mother.
“I love sports because it sometimes take me away on what’s going on my life,” he said. “I lost my mom two and a half years ago. Every time I watch a Mariners or Seahawks game I always think about her.”
Then Seehorn got to go to the game, where among other things he was able to meet some of his favorite writers from the national sports network Roots Sports, and his account of the event, “A Night To Remember”, appears on the front page of the Monroe Monitor this week.
It was a great day, said his stepdad Jerry Dutton.
“I went to the game with him. It was great. He was so excited,” he said. “I can’t remember seeing him so happy.”
Also attending were Seehorn’s caregiver Kelsea, his younger brother Dylani and Jerry’s mom.
Johnson’s plan for the next part of the KOMO story is to visit Seehorn Tuesday to film him reading his own story in the Monroe Monitor.
Then the story will be edited for air.
It will be the culmination of an exciting couple of weeks for the young writer.
But his stepdad hopes that it will only be the beginning of a career.
“We’re hoping to get him some tutoring in journalism,” said Dutton. “He hopes to go to college and from there maybe get a job, something to do with sports. The sky is the limit. After seeing the Mariners press box and the smile on his face, [hopefully] something to do with the Mariners. That would be his dream job.”