Third in a series of local people who have worked in professional sports.
Bob Averill has worked in security for 13 years, and recently reached his 10-year mark with the Seattle Mariners.
“When I went into security, I had envisioned a 300-pound bouncer type at the backstage of a concert,” Averill said. “But what I found is that it’s a lot more rewarding than expected. It’s not just being the tough guy, that’s a very small part of it. There was an opportunity to serve and help people.”
Security was not his career plan. “It was an accident,” Averill said, adding he grew up in a newspaper family and studied journalism at the University of Washington. He was raised on Bainbridge Island with his parents and three siblings.
The Averill family owned the Bainbridge Review and North Kitsap Herald. Also, Averill’s mother, Verda, was the first woman to serve as president of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.
Averill followed in his mother’s footsteps, working on the production side of the newspaper industry. However, a couple of factors affected his plans.
“The newspaper industry changed, and I ended up getting sick,” Averill said. “I ended up getting kidney disease, which gave me an odd forced retirement for a while. I was working for the King County Journal (in Bellevue) in 2007 when they closed their doors. It was a good time to reset and figure out what I wanted to do, and I ended up getting kidney disease and started dialysis.”
When Averill realized his disease was not life-threatening, he wanted to jump back into the workforce. Averill said a friend recommended a part-time job with Staff Pro, an event security company.
Since he was battling his disease, the part-time job gave him flexibility for the next few years. After working there for three years, he learned about the opportunity with the Mariners.
“I ended up working event security for the Mariners, which is game time, seasonal stuff,” he said.
In 2014, two years into working with the Mariners, Averill got a kidney transplant. Before that, Averill qualified for Medicare because of his kidney disease. But after the transplant, he had three years to get a full-time job before losing benefits. Averill looked to the Mariners to hire him full-time.
“That’s how I ended up in the security department full-time. It was a happy accident,” he said, adding it’s a way to give back to the community.
“I realized how rewarding that was and really enjoyed it,” Averill said. “Having gone through the health stuff I’ve gone through, I felt like a need to serve. Sometimes, it’s silly like helping them find the garlic fries, but those types of things can be really rewarding.”
Averill said serving people is more important to him than covering Mariners games or concerts at the field.
“I recognized my mortality and feel like I need to make a difference,” said Averill, who now lives in Enumclaw. “I don’t know how much time I have left, hopefully a good 20 or 30 years. However, I figure I should be helping people when I’m here.”
Besides helping fans, Averill has built bonds with co-workers.
“There are some amazing people I get to work with, and they have broad backgrounds that I may not have had a chance to meet,” Averill said. “We get to interact with a lot of people.”
Although Averill’s path to security was unexpected, he loves every moment. “Every day is different, and you don’t know what’s coming up.”