Athlete, Writer, and a Gentleman: Interview with a Golden Bear, David Seawright

A scholar and a gentleman!

Today, we are talking with David Seawright.  We've already talked with Cameron Jordan, Donovan Edwards, and Jarred Price.  David Seawright shows how Cal emphasizes both the student and the athlete.  Not only was David a talented football player at Cal, he also is an incredibly intelligent student.  He wrote a thesis on the polarization of politics in America, which sounds like something I couldn't understand!  Further, he is about to start a Master's program at Georgetown.  We aren't just a bunch of pretty faces here at Cal! 

A lot of fans really got to know David because of his high quality Twitter account, which you can follow here.  Many Cal fans followed their favorite sports from David's insider perspective at the Cal Bear Blog.    The tagline for that site was "Bringing Cal Sports To The Fans" and that is exactly what David Seawright has done for us by answering these questions.  He even had opportunities to write for Yahoo! Sports as seen at the bottom of this page.

Many thanks to David Seawright for taking the time to answer these questions.  Many thanks to him for exemplifying the best that Cal has to offer.  We hope you enjoy his answers!  Please, do join us after the jump.  GO BEARS!



1. What do you practice the most as a kicker? Is it really all about leg strength, or are they other things you need to be a successful kicker in college?

Kicking is all about repetition. Leg strength and flexibility are crucial elements, but if you can't be perfectly consistent it all goes to waste. Your steps, approach, plant, contact, follow through - it all has to be identical to produce the ideal result. That goes for both field goals and kickoffs. Of course, one of the most difficult things about this is being consistent under pressure, which is probably the toughest transition from high school to college. When you get out on the field in front of 70,000 plus people, your heart rate increases and you get those butterflies in your stomach. When you get out on the field, you have to be able to control your breathing and, even more importantly, your mind so that you can focus purely on execution.  At the end of the day, that's what it takes to be successful.

2. What type of kicking techniques did Coach Alamar teach you when you were one of Cal's main kickers? Any tricks of the trade?

Kicking is a difficult thing to coach for a lot of reasons. The most common analogy is that it's like a golf swing, and while my golf game is absolutely horrendous there are definitely some parallels there. Just like two swings aren't the same on the PGA Tour, my swing was different than those of Giorgio and Vince. There are definitely some fundamentals that are the same with each approach, but each guy is a little bit different.

That being said, I think what I learned the most from coach Alamar was the strategy behind special teams coverage. In high school, with kicking off from the 40 yard line and the automatic touchback rule, my only call was "kick it deep." At the college level there is so much more that goes into special teams strategy. In terms of kicking-specific coaching, coach Alamar (and coach Genyk, for that matter) serve more to remind us of the fundamentals of what we're doing than anything else. For actual kicking instruction I always turned to my coach down in San Diego, John Matich.

3. Did you have any favorite plays while you were at Cal that you were involved in?

Well, I obviously don't have too many to choose from. I only played in five games as a true freshman before getting hurt and never fully coming back, and five games as an 18-year-old isn't exactly an ideal sample size for a career. I didn't have time to learn from my mistakes and develop as a player before getting hurt. That being said, there is nothing that can take away my experience against Michigan State in 2008. Coming in as a true freshman and drilling my first career field goal under the lights, wearing those gold jerseys in front of a sold out crowd, that was unbelievable. Words can't really describe that experience. It was awesome.

4. You've been writing everywhere. What was your favorite gig? Do you have a story that you're most proud of writing?

It's been awesome having the opportunities to write so much, and a lot of that requires thanks to coach Tedford and his staff for letting me write while on the team. I had a great time writing for the Daily Cal, but I'd have to say that writing for Mike Silver over on Yahoo! Sports was pretty unreal. That and launching the Bear Blog, which I pitched to the athletic department, have both been great experiences and been a lot of fun. As for a story I'm most proud of writing, I loved the coverage I was able to provide from this year's Pro Day. I don't think coverage like that had ever been done here at Cal, so I loved getting to provide readers an inside look at an event that shapes the futures of former Bears.

5. What is your best memory of your time playing for Cal?

Apart from my short playing days that I mentioned before, I'd have to go with beating Stanford in 2009 on the Farm. If you follow me on Twitter you probably know that I'm good buddies with Mark Brazinski. Well, after Mikey Mo's interception to seal the deal, Brazinski grabbed me by the shoulder pads and physically lifted me off the ground and shook me like a rag doll. Mark is strong as an ox, but I wasn't expecting that. The excitement of beating Stanford at their place in that kind of fashion, well, I don't think that's a Big Game any of us will forget any time soon.

6. What is your favorite memory of your time writing for/covering Cal sports?

My writing career was definitely limited by playing football, so I never really got to cover basketball except for a bit for the Bear Blog and did very little football work this spring. I already mentioned my coverage of Pro Day for the Bear Blog, so I'll go with the 2010 Big Meet against Stanford. The women's track and field matchup came down to the 4x400 relay and Cal pulled away to beat the Cardinal for the first time in a decade. That was a pretty great event to be a part of.

7. What was it like transitioning from being a player on the football team to covering the team?

It was an interesting transition, and to be honest a lot of what I had to do was keep my mouth shut. Especially writing for Calbears.com, I wasn't exactly in the business of breaking news even when I was sitting on a story. A great example would be the scheduling of Presbyterian, which you guys did a good bit of reporting on. Well, I had that story but couldn't do anything with it because of contractual obligations with Colorado that prevented the school from officially releasing the announcement of the game. There were plenty of examples like that, some of which I'm sure you guys are still digging around for some answers on.

8. What are your long-term plans for your writing career?

This is a great question, and one that I'm trying to figure out for myself right now. Graduating early has presented me with some tough questions to answer. Should I go straight to grad school? If so, for what? Or should I go straight into the work force? And if so, for what? I was fortunate enough to have some great options for next year from a tech startup in San Francisco (I'd be doing sales and business development), a non-profit in San Francisco (marketing and public relations), and the Bear Blog here at Cal. Along with that, I got into UW, USC and, of course, Georgetown.

As you guys know, in the end I opted to go with Georgetown because academics provided me with the scholarship that athletics never came up with. While my passion for writing has had more public recognition, I'm also very interested in politics. Last summer I actually worked for a political communications firm in San Diego and consulted on numerous campaigns in California. I'll be studying Media and Politics at Georgetown and be diving in to the political scene that is Washington, D.C., while I'm there. That being said, my sports writing won't be put completely on hold. Some work with Mike Silver is in the works, so hopefully I'll have more on that soon. It'll be nice to branch out into the NFL, which was my first love.

9. Are you going to keep writing for CalBears.com's CalBearsBlog?

Unfortunately, I'm not. I talked with the athletic department about continuing work and an offer was made, but a free master's degree from a school like Georgetown was too good to pass up. That being said, I'm incredibly grateful to the athletic department for taking a chance with me on the Bear Blog and trying to make it work for me to stick around. Of course, the upside of that is that I'll be able comment on Cal football games next fall from the opposite coast. That should be fun.

10. What classes & professors are not to be missed @ Cal?

There's one class that I'd absolutely suggest that everyone take. I actually took it twice, once as a student during the fall of 2009 and again as a teacher's assistant this spring. It's PoliSci 106a: Campaign Strategy - Media and Message and is taught by Dan Schnur. It was his class that got me into politics and, in a lot of ways, led me to take the job last summer, pick my thesis topic and inspired me to branch out and go to Georgetown. The class is notoriously difficult to get into - it's only offered on Mondays (Dan teaches at USC the rest of the week) and attracts all the "future president" types at Cal, but it's a great class that I'd highly recommend.

11. If you have to do your time over again @ Cal, what would you change and why?

I realize this is going to sound utterly cliche, but I honestly wouldn't change anything. Even though my football career didn't exactly go as I imagined it would when I won the starting job coming out of fall camp in 2008, playing in the Pac-10, getting a degree from Berkeley, developing all of the friendships I made here were all things I wouldn't trade for anything. I'm pumped to rep my Cal gear in DC next year.

12. Can you tell us more about your honors thesis "Polarized Media, Polarized Congress?" Does social media exacerbate or alleviate media polarization?

As if I wasn't already being wordy enough with these answers, you bring up the topic that dominated my life for the last semester. Four months of research and interviews led to 45 pages and 14,000 words of congressional voting data. I didn't actually look at at social media in my research but instead focused on the cable news networks - think MSNBC versus Fox News. My research was two pronged. First, I looked at the changes in congressional voting patterns over the last four decades. In short, politicians in Washington went from voting with party about 66% of the time before the introduction of cable news (CNN in 1980) to over 90% during the 110th Congress (2007-2009). Obviously, that's a pretty sharp increase in partisanship. I found that the polarization of the American cable news networks influenced this increased polarization in Congress, but certainly cannot be identified as the sole cause of this trend. In the end, if voters don't want Congress to be polarized, they need to turn off their televisions and consume news elsewhere. Any influence that the networks have is simply because of their access to voters. Without viewers, revenue disappears and so does the politicians' interest in using networks for political messaging.

13. You experienced two different coaches in Pete Alamar & Jeff Genyk. Can you compare & contrast their similarities and differences?

They're about as different as can be. Coach Alamar was more laid back in his coaching style while coach Genyk is much more intense and in your face. And obviously, there are big strategic differences as well with the spread versus pro-style punt, plus having Anger roll out with the rugby punt every once in a while. I'm looking forward to seeing the two of them face off at Candlestick to kick off next season.

14. What's different about the training for a kicker? How do you prepare yourself for such a role mentally & physically?

Like I said above, the biggest thing is repetition. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and focus to do the same thing over and over again, not to mention watching it all on tape later that night. Mental preparation is equally as important. You have to be able to place yourself in a situation mentally in preparation and maintain composure mentally when you're actually in that situation. It's no easy task.

15. What advice do you have for Giorgio Tavecchio entering into his final senior campaign?

Giorgio doesn't need any advice for me, that's for sure. He does an excellent job in preparation and knows exactly what he needs to do to get the job done next fall. Giorgio works very hard and does all the right things. I think he'll have an excellent senior season.

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