If success breeds success, then Sounders FC has high hopes that the Super Bowl run for the Seattle Seahawks can rub off.
For two days, the Sounders have trained at the Seahawks indoor practice facility at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash., conducting fitness testing along with their normal training sessions while the Seahawks are in New Jersey preparing for the Super Bowl on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
“There’s a successful aura around this place and hopefully we can get a little bit of that and keep it going,” said Sounders FC forward and lifelong Seahawks fan Lamar Neagle.
Normally, the team trains at its own practice facility at Starfire in Tukwila. But for two days each year, they go through the beep test as well as speed and agility tests to gauge the fitness levels of individual players and the team as a whole as it leaves for Arizona on Wednesday to train at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson.
Over the course of those two days, the Sounders players are engulfed in the Seahawks facility. While in previous years, that has meant just an open facility while the Seahawks season has ended, this year it has come with a different level of excitement. The Seahawks left for New Jersey on Sunday, but there are still some staff at the Renton facility who exude that enthusiasm and it has become contagious for the Sounders.
In just four seasons since taking over the head coach role, Pete Carroll has guided the Seahawks to the Super Bowl for just the second time in franchise history. Training on the same field that the Seahawks practice on each week holds value to Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid and his team.
“They see how the people here are excited and it makes them feel a little part of it. It’s good to be here in this environment because Coach Carroll and his team have created a very positive environment that’s produced a lot of success,” Schmid said.
To some locals on the team, that excitement was palpable.
“I’ve never actually been in here before, so once I walked in I just got my stuff on and took a walk around,” said newly signed Homegrown Player Sean Okoli, who grew up a Seahawks fan in Federal Way. “There are a bunch of big-time players out here and it’s an honor for me to be out here training on the same field.”
Added Stanford product Aaron Kovar, who lived just five minutes from CenturyLink Field growing up, “It’s pretty cool, especially seeing guys like Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin that are Stanford guys. There is a lot of success around here and even though it’s a different sport, it bleeds over and it’s a cool experience just to see what these guys do. The facilities are pretty incredible.”
As has been the case over the last few years, Sounders FC will be on the road during the Super Bowl, this time in Tucson. However, Schmid and his coaching staff give the team the day off on Super Bowl Sunday, allowing them to make their own plans for the big game.
In previous years, a few players here and there have had rooting interests, but the game has generally just provided a backdrop for some bonding experiences. Now with the Seahawks fighting for the Lombardi trophy, the team as a whole has a team to support.
“We wish them all the best in the Super Bowl, for sure,” Schmid said.