VMAC is Sports Techie
Sports Techie took a tour of the Seattle Seahawks Virginia Mason Athletic (VMAC) Field in Renton, WA with their VP of Community Relations, Mike Flood, in order to capture the Spiritof12 and see some of the Hawks sports technology.
First thing to report, I saw Head Coach Pete Carroll talking on the stair case to someone below.We made no eye contact but I heard his voice and that got my heart pumping. There’s no way that I was pulling out my iPhone to record or take a picture of him. That would be considered bad Sports Techie form. This was a good start though.
Offensive line Coach Gibbs shuffled by us in the hall. Mike was surprised how I instantly knew who he was since there were several other large players and personnel around crowding the space. To me, Coach Gibbs is a rock star. I love music like I love sports technology. Pearl Jam, Mary J Blidge and Coach Gibbs are the same to me, rock stars at their profession. Coach Gibbs has seen everything the NFL has to offer and now he works for Microsoft co-founder and Sports Techie Paul Allen. He’s a rock star.
Considering that the old training facility in Kirkland was 45,000 total square feet, this building is absolutely gynomorous at 225,000 sq ft. It felt like walking around an aircraft carrier even though I’ve never done that. The indoor training field itself is 88,000 sq ft.
First place we checked out was a simple enough looking classroom that had desks, a white board and a video screen with a screensaver showing DVSport Football. The football players and coaches use this room to learn about the team’s game plans, study scouting reports, individual coaching and to jell as a group.
We next took a look at the state-of-the-art, bi-level, cardio and weight training room. This room overlooks the outdoor practice field. The sense of awe I got when you walk into this room was literally breath taking. There is so cool, the room featured a garage door that opens to the outdoor practice field. If you walk out there, to the right is Lake Washington. The blend of core and function training devices with cardio machines and free weights felt Sports Techie.
Our next stop was my favorite, the video room. Thom Fermstad is the Director of Video (Seahawks bio) and has worked with the Seahawks since the team first opened their doors for business in 1976. First met Thom in 1997 when I was the Director of Sales for Sports 2000. We had developed the GridIron 2000 for the Seattle Seahawks. The GI2000 was a revolutionary expert NFL game planning system that was Windows 95. The system was developed from Gulf War I technology. The GI2000 integrated with video and a statistical program that gave Coach Erickson’s staff a competitive edge on any other NFL team in terms of saving time and being more uniform and consistent as a football organization.
Thom is an incredible football resource for the Seahawks. He’s a sports technology pioneer and someone I would consider a Sports Techie Hall of Fame lock. Thom reflected back to the days when VCR tapes were being used in his profession. The other NFL teams mailed their previous game footage to Seattle via airplane and they had to wait for it to arrive. Today, it’s all done via digital video. The NFL also controls the distribution of game footage to ensure that it’s done in a fair and timely manner for each team.
A real surprise happened next. I met the new Director of IT Sterling Monroe only; I had met Sterling back in 1997 when he used to work for the Seahawks! Mike mentioned that the team had not had an actual Director of IT in a few years. Way to go Coach Carroll, you made a real Sports Techie upgrade by bringing back this important position back. Servers, networking, software, video, production and much more, are all contingent on IT support. The IT department is an important part of a competitive NFL team.
Our next stop was the indoor practice facility that is 88,000 sq ft in size. It’s a weather controlled, year-round building that features Field Turf to train on. Growing up in the Northwest and having played many sports game outside in the rain you understand how important playing indoors during the winter is, what a blessing. Each practice here is video taped from two angles. One camera is up in a high tower at the 50-yard line and the other is on a portable Genie Industries lift.
Video: Indoor Practice Field
Carrying the Spiritof12 inside of me is what helped make the VMAC a truly special place, that, and seeing some awesome sports technology.
Big thanks to Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen. Mike said he’s still recovering from cancer. Paul, get well. You are an Ultra Sports Techie, especially the VMAC.