Super Seahawks fans

Passion for the Northwest's only NFL football team is easy to find in Clark County

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

Published:

 

Nothing says romance quite like throwing Skittles at your favorite football player or screaming with a crowd that's so loud it has registered on the Richter scale.

At least not for Dusty Zinda, 31, and his fiance, Ashlee O'Neal, 29, of Vancouver.

Getting there

Driving: From Vancouver take I-5 north to exit 164B, merge onto Edgar Martinez Drive South, turn right on First Avenue South, right on Railway Road South, sharp left on Occidental Avenue South. CenturyLink Field is at 800 Occidental Avenue South.

Train: Amtrak Cascades, four trains daily between Vancouver and Seattle. Takes about 3.5 hours. Price is generally $56 each way for coach, although it is often sold out for games. Visit http://www.amtrakcascades.com/ or call 800-872-7245 for information.

Bus: BoltBus Pacific Northwest, nonstop service between Portland and Seattle. Takes about 3.5 hours. Price varies between $1 (special bonus fare for early booking) to about $25 each way, with a range of fares in between. Visit https://www.boltbus.com/ or call 877-265-8287 for information.

Ever since they started dating eight years ago, the couple have celebrated their anniversary by driving up to Seattle to see their beloved Seahawks play. So when it came time to pop the question last year, well, Zinda already knew where he had to do it.

"Her dream come true was for me to propose to her on the Jumbotron," Zinda said. "I called up there and asked them to do it and they said they didn't do that anymore. But I still asked her at the game -- and she said yes."

Even though she didn't get her Jumbotron wish, O'Neal said she thought the proposal location was perfect. The two, who plan to marry on Oct. 11, will also celebrate their honeymoon at the home game against the New England Patriots on Oct. 14.

"We're not really a candle lit romantic type of couple," O'Neal said with a laugh. "This is just our thing. It's so much fun."

When it comes to folks from Clark County making the 3-hour trek from Southwest Washington to Seattle for games, the pair is far from alone. Our area is full of rabid Seahawks fans, said Roger Binns, a bartender at Main Event who purchased his first set of season tickets this year.

"The games are so loud and crazy," said Binns, 29. "We're the 12th man. We scream so loud. You end up losing your voice by half time if you're a real fan. At least I do."

Binns often carpools to games with friends. But while trains, buses and highways are often crowded on the way up and back, there's

always room for more people to join the party, he said.

"This season I plan to take random friends to the games with me to get them into it," Binns said.

"Although some of them are fans of other teams," he added with a wince.

The Seahawks officially retired 12 as a jersey number in 1984 in honor of fans, who go by the moniker of The 12th Man. The crowd, well known for giving the team a home field advantage, actually registered between magnitude 1 and 2 on a seismometer during a playoff game touchdown run by running back Marshawn Lynch on Jan. 8, 2011.

At his home in Battle Ground, Binns has a 12th Man jersey signed by a host of players, including quarterback Russell Wilson, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Sidney Rice and strong safety Kam Chancellor, among others.

"I go to the Seahawks training camp every year," Binns said. "I know some people there, so we've been able to get on the field and watch. That's how I got a picture with (wide receiver) Deion Branch."

His favorite player, though, is cornerback Marcus Trufant, both because he's a Washington State University graduate and because "he puts up with so much year by year."

Trufant gets criticized a lot, but it doesn't seem to get to him, Binns added.

"One of my friends knows him pretty well," Binns said. "They hang out in Vegas sometimes and play poker."

Zinda, who's been a Seahawks fan since he was very young, still remembers going to his first game at the Kingdome, although he doesn't remember who the Seahawks were playing or many details.

As season ticket holders, he and O'Neal were eager to travel back and forth to games this season on the Amtrak Cascades train, which can cost more than $100 round trip. But like many others, including Binns, they discovered season train packages were sold out, he said.

"We've always driven up, because the train's always full," Zinda said. "But the drive's not too bad. We have our Seahawks flags in our rear windows and every game as we go along, even when we're just going through Woodland or Longview, people honk at us. It's great."

And even if you have to park far away and take the Metro in, it's still a good time, O'Neal said.

"Just walking along when you're walking with thousands of other Seahawks fans and everybody's chanting and stuff? That's very fun," she said.

Beyond Amtrak, Greyhound has introduced a new nonstop bus service between Portland and Seattle called the BoltBus that some fans are eager to try. The service began earlier this year, although nobody Binns, Zinda or O'Neal knows have heard anything about it, they said.

"I'm definitely going to look into that," Binns said. "It can be a long drive back sometimes when you're worn out from the game."

Representatives from BoltBus didn't reply to The Columbian's request for an interview.

Binns, who paid $1,600 for his pair of season tickets, said he used to frequently buy individual tickets from scalpers. If you wait until the first quarter starts, sometimes you can get very good seats on the cheap that way, he said.

"We've gotten really close before for like $50 a piece," Binns said. "Now that I have season tickets, I'm in the corner of the end zone. Hopefully that means I'll be throwing Skittles at Marshawn Lynch this year."

Lynch, who frequently snacks on Skittles during games, ended up being the foundation of a fan tradition. Fans throw the candy onto the field for him whenever he scores a touchdown.

When O'Neal and Zinda head up to the game for their honeymoon, they have a tradition of their own they'd like to continue."We've never been to a game that they've lost," O'Neal said. "So we're really hoping they'll beat the Patriots for us."