Mark Pattison - It Takes A Little More To Be A Champion
No. 83, 89, 88
NFL Draft: 1985 / Round 7
Retired professional football player, dedicated father, mountaineer and philanthropist, Mark Pattison, is conquering the world in his own way. Through his work with the Waterboys, a nonprofit organization raising awareness to the importance of clean water wells in Tanzania, Mark is changing the lives of others every day. His goal to conquer all seven summits is a great example of accomplishment though hard work. Find out more about Mark and his journey at NFL2Seven Summits.com
My Elite Network: I see on the website all this great information about you, but, it doesn’t really tell the readers about you ” the MAN.” What is that superhero strength that you have that others may not have, or, might not know about?
Mark: Gosh. That’s a new question. I love the question. I think it’s kind of that internal fortitude of just never giving up. It’s just relentless. I’m the kind of guy who you are talking to just right now. That is just me. The internal drive that I have for accomplishments and that is true to me. For football, sometimes I would just would go a little unnoticed just because I am more, I’m not saying soft spoken, because I speak like I do, but, just in terms of tearing the roof off the wall some guys are built like that and that is just not my style. But, at the end of the day - time after time at the end of the day, including this mountain journey, I am the last guy standing there. I think some people are becoming less surprised as my journey goes.
My Elite Network: Do you have a mantra? A favorite quote that you refer back to?
Mark: YES. I say it every single day. I just told my two kids this morning, “It takes a little more to be a champion.” I tell them every day to work a little harder.
My Elite Network: Mark, you are a go-getter, the leader, the one who would be saying ‘let’s go try this,” not to get anyone in trouble of course…but, just that adventurous side. Were you always this adventurous in elementary and high school?
Mark: Yeah, I think I have. I don’t know, I have just always really enjoyed traveling the world. And part of this whole thing about mountain climbing is that it fills my soul. It’s not just all about climbing a mountain. It’s about the people you are with. Being in Africa we raised money to build water wells. So, these young girls don’t have to walk 2 to 5 miles with 5-gallon Gatorade buckets on their heads to fill up from the stream and then walk them back. You know meeting and talking to people and engaging with them. I think that’s one of the reasons why my journey has resonated with people is because, rather they do it or not, it’s a sense with everybody to have more adventure in their life and they want to find what really inspires them.
My Elite Network: During your high and college playing days, do you have a favorite story? Mark, did your folks embarrass you?
Mark: You know, no. Just kind of the opposite. My parents always wanted to make sure I remained super humble. So, any trophies or ribbons or talking about my accomplishments was more like, hey great job it was a great team win. So, I didn’t have the crazy parent running down the sidelines or getting into it with the coaches.
My Elite Network: When you decided to leave football, was it injury related or were you just done?
Mark: I think they just pretty much threw me out the door (we both laugh). I can come up with a lot of excuses, but, yeah, that was about it.
My Elite Network: Do you get to go back, to Seattle, very often?
Mark: I work for a digital media company in Seattle, so I go back every two weeks. Recently, I was inducted into the Hall of Fame up there… which was a huge honor. I was fortunate I played at the University of Washington right there in Seattle and so my family and friends and everyone was just all there. I grew up going to the Husky games and watching those guys play and later I became one of those guys. Yeah, so it was a big event. I travel with the UCLA football team and my best friend is Jim Mora, who is the head coach there. He is going on 6 years there and we are still tight. I literally travel to every home and away game. But that I still love the Huskies.
My Elite Network: Recently, I read an article saying that after football you took up mountain climbing. But it didn’t go into any other explanation. Where did the love and passion for mountain climbing come from?
Mark: Well, I grew up in the Northwest, I grew up in Seattle. My dad was a climber and it’s a climbing community. We have all these mountains…Mount Rainer is kind of the crown jewel. I was climbing these smaller mountains - I wouldn’t call them “climbs’” I would call them “hikes” all over the Northwest for years and years and years so that wasn’t new. It really came, it circles back to your first questions, I had moved from Seattle where I knew everybody down to LA/Santa Monica. I was going through a tough time in my marriage. And I went from knowing everyone to knowing nobody. Then one day, I kept asking the questions… how did I get here? how did this happened? Then one day I changed my whole mindset. I can’t even remember why it happened. I just woke up and said I was going to start focusing on what I am going to do about it - I was still committed to my marriage, but, I needed to fill my bucket and that’s number one. So, I want to do something extraordinary, athletically I can’t play football. So, I was like, why not try to become the first NFL guy to ever climb the 7 Summits. And that’s where the whole thing came. And I didn’t have a grand plan to about public speaking or podcast…none of that was on the board. Until last year on my 4th summit in Argentina and at that point I was just like I’m going to make this mountain and this is going to happen. I work in digital media and one thing lead to another and now my audience is over 200, 000 in 12 months, it’s been pretty remarkable how fast it has grown in that short period of time.
My Elite Network: Is your plan to climb one mountain a year? And how do you train to climb a mountain?
Mark: I try to do one a year, that was always the plan. But with other obligations outside of that, the only thing that may have changed is just my order of what I was doing. In 2019, I am thinking about doing Everest because my number in college was number 19 and I feel that the stars are aligned.
Yeah, I train every day. I either train once or twice a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, I love doing it. But, you know it’s really cross training. Because without being on the mountain you have to figure out other things to do. A lot of it is pushing yourself to limits that you mentally don’t give up when things are hard. And physically staying in shape. I mountain bike a lot., I run, I lift weights, I run stairs, whatever it takes to stay in peak condition. A lot of guys when they get done playing football in the NFL, they just kind of stop. In my case I just never stopped.
My Elite Network: What do your children say when you tell them you are going to climb to another summit?
Mark: I think I try and take the worry out of it as much as possible. Part of that is because, if you were to ask my friends about what I do, they would probably all say it’s not out of character. It’s more about making sure that I do everything I can physically to put myself in a place where I don’t injure myself that’s number one, and, number two is like anything, really study and understand what I am getting myself into and surround myself with other teammates that are damn skilled. So, when these things hit, we are incredibly skilled to get ourselves out of it and able to use good judgement.
My Elite Network: In your podcast with Chris (Long), you mentioned that you dedicated one of the fresh water wells (Waterboys.org) to your father. It is about honoring those that we cherish so much. Besides the Waterboys, is there any other non-profit projects are you involved in?
Mark: Well, if you talk about philanthropy that’s the main one today, however, I do want to set up my own philanthropy organization and part of that will come through the sale of books and public speaking. All those seeds are being planted as we go. Hopefully, in 5 years I can say I’ve raised 10 million dollars with X amount of money to go towards Waterboys and five other charities that are near and dear to my heart.
My Elite Network: In 5 years, if we were to get a coffee at the local Starbucks, what are we going to be celebrating? What are we going to be talking about?
Mark: Well, I mean, I am always pushing forward and I will never retire that’s #1. Number two, is I am launching my public speaking platform and so hopefully I’ll tell you how GREAT it is. I am writing a book right now and working with a ghost author and hopefully by that time I am on my second book. So, we can talk about that. I would have climbed Everest by 2020 and I’ll go to Antarctica. After that I want to do something called the “Grand Slam” which is ski the North and South Poles. So that takes me out another couple of years. I have three more mountains and the poles to go. So that’s another 5 years from now. You know (laughing) polar bears chasing me and surviving a couple of inches of snow and all that good stuff - so that will be the conversation.