New Teammates: Former pro athletes become Chattanooga firefighters

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Image: WTVC. Samuel Seamster and Rhande Haskett were professional athletes before embarking on new careers as Chattanooga fire fighters.

Six months of intense training earns 23 cadets a spot on a stage to mark the beginning of their careers as Chattanooga firefighters.

It is a job that requires racing against time and teamwork.

Those are skills Rhande Haskett and Samuel Seamster sharpened in different careers.

"I always dreamed of playing in the NFL," Seamster said Tuesday morning. "I got to fulfill and live out that dream."

He spent four years in the NFL as a cornerback. He had stints with the Ravens, Dolphins, Saints, Bills, Cowboys and Jaguars.

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He was a star player at Ooltewah High School. Being a pro athlete shaped him for this career.

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"As far as football, it was to win championships," Seamster said.

"Here, it's to provide service and help the community."

Rhande Haskett played two years of professional basketball in three different countries: Mexico, Romania and Morocco.

"Our record was 17-1 and we ended up winning the championship," she said.

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A product of Ridgeland High, Haskett knows what it is like to perform when the pressure is on.

"Make the right play to put your team in a good position," she said.

"With a fire, there's no room for error. These are lives at stake."

Now, Rhande and Samuel are teammates on a new type of field.

They already have a glimpse of how tough being a firefighter can be.

"The first day we put turnout gear on, it was a wake-up call," Haskett said.

"Once the heat hits you, you can't get rid of it," Seamster said of training. "It's trapped inside. It's protecting you but keeping you hot at the same time."

But they say it is worth putting on new uniforms and serving communities they once called home.

"I wanted to give back to the community and I'm glad I'm able to give back to the city of Chattanooga," Seamster said.

"God has blessed me with the opportunity to help people," Haskett said. "I know He's given me the gift to help others and not be so focused on myself."

The cadets will graduate from the academy Thursday, Oct. 10.

The ceremony will be at Clear Creek Church of Christ in Hixson at 6 p.m. Thursday night.