My favorite memories from Seahawks training camp

TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 29: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner
TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 29: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner /
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With the Seahawks beginning training camp on Sunday, let’s take a look back at some of my favorite memories from the banks of Lake Washington

The Seahawks are finally set to begin training camp on Sunday, which means football is officially back. With the excitement of a new season on the horizon I thought it would be a good time for me to reflect on some of my favorite memories from training camp.

My first training camp experience came in 2010, Pete Carroll’s first year. I had been to quite a few Seahawks games by this point in my life, but had never taken in a practice. I’d read online that the Seahawks would make several practice sessions open to the public. Since it was completed, I’d always wanted to go see the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. A quick investigation showed admission was something like $5 plus a small transportation fee. I was sold. I told my dad and brother we were going.

My mind was absolutely blown upon arriving. First, the VMAC was even more impressive in person than it looked on TV. Though I didn’t get to see the inside, it was quite a sight to behold.  Then as I walked through the entrance to the berm that overlooks the practice fields I couldn’t believe how perfect everything was. The field was in immaculate shape and the water of Lake Washington glistened in the distance. I think my first visit to Seahawks camp may have been my favorite because it was all new. I got to experience Seahawks football in a way I never had before.

A bold new culture in Seattle

Within about ten minutes of my first visit to training camp I realized Pete Carroll and his staff would be bringing a new approach to the everyday rigors of NFL football. Here was this 60 year old man jumping around with the enthusiasm and energy of a teenager. That was only the beginning. There was music blaring as if practice were a full fledged party. The pace of the workout was at breakneck speed. The scoreboard boldly read “Always Compete”. There was just this buzz in the air. At that point in time I could have never predicted that Coach Carroll would take the franchise to the heights he has. I knew with certainty he was going to do things differently.

MADISON, WI – SEPTEMBER 10: Russell Wilson
MADISON, WI – SEPTEMBER 10: Russell Wilson /

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Rookie Russell takes over

When I attended camp in 2012 I knew where my focus was going to be for much of practice. The Seahawks were coming off a 7-9 campaign in which they were competitive in almost every game. It was apparent at that time that Seattle’s young roster was on the cusp of being something special. I remember joking with a college buddy of mine after the 2011 season that we expected the Seahawks to play in the next five to seven Super Bowls. However even with a wealth of relatively hidden talent, the team still needed an elite quarterback.

Enter Russell Wilson. Many observers thought the undersized 3rd round pick out of Wisconsin could be a good backup with the potential to start one day. Wilson was thrown into a three way quarterback derby. He competed against Tavaris Jackson, who was the incumbent starter lauded by fans and teammates for his toughness, and newly acquired Matt Flynn. Flynn was brought in from Green Bay and thought to be the favorite to start after throwing roughly 37 TD’s in a week 17 game against Detroit.

By the end of that session I was convinced that Wilson needed to be the guy. He obviously was the least experienced, but he had the “it” factor. Apparently over the next several weeks the coaches decided Russell had something special. They made the surprising decision to name the rookie their opening day starter even though they had just signed Flynn to a large contract. It was then I realized that Pete wasn’t joking when it came to his “Always Compete” mantra. The rest is history.