On a typical weekend, The NINETY fills with supporters clad in Rave Green, ready to make the short journey to CenturyLink Field to cheer on the hometown team. This weekend though, in the days leading up to Saturday’s match against FC Dallas, the space is packed with a different type of attentive sports enthusiast.
David Tenney, Manager of Sport Science and Performance for Sounders FC, is hosting the fifth annual SSFC Sport Science Weekend. With a move from its usual location at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, Tenney and his staff have been able to welcome 93 attendees from around the world.
“We have quite a long wait list,” Tenney said before the seminar’s first session began late Tuesday afternoon. “Every year, the demand is a bit greater.”
Professionals from sports leagues around the United States and around the globe have gathered annually with the Sounders FC staff to discuss advances in the field of sport science. This year, with more participants from various professional leagues from around the country, the group gathered to talk about how data can be best applied in every-day decision making from many levels, including that of coach and physical therapist.
“It’s an eclectic, good mix of people from a variety of backgrounds,” Tenney said. “That’s what makes this a strong event. Sport science really should be applied. In this year’s seminar, the presenters are looking at how you can take the data we collect and how to best translate that into real, actionable decisions daily.”
This year’s slate of professionals presenting their research includes sport scientists from both the professional soccer world and other fields, including Michael Watts, Head of Performance for Aston Villa, and Terry Peters, Head Physical Coach for Vitesse Arnhem. Another notable name is Patrick Ward, the sports scientist for the Seattle Seahawks.
For Tim Vagen, the owner of Unlimited Athletes and the Program Manager for Highline College’s Personal Training Program, the decision to come to the 2015 seminar didn’t take long, even though he does not share the same common interest as Tenney.
“I work closely with USA Swimming. We look at the data that we collect and how we handle our training,” said Vagen. “It’s fun to share with people from other sports. We look at all the other major sports and realize that at the end of the day, we’re all working with human beings and can make our ideas work.”
The mix of professionals is something that Tenney prides himself in.
“When we started, it was from the mindset that it’s great to go visit different places and see what they are doing,” Tenney said. “To be able to have smart people in the room with you and your staff, though...it challenges us. It helps us generate new ideas and it gives us an opportunity to find people who may be doing it better than we are and challenges us to improve and excel.”
Vagen knows that even though his players don’t take the pitch, he’s benefitting immensely from participating in the four-day workshop. “Some of the best minds in sport science and training are here, all in one place.
“We learn a ton.”