The groundwork for Seattle's impressive, 43-8 victory over Denver in Sunday's Super Bowl was laid in the sand of Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Training sessions on the beach and standup-paddleboarding in nearby Redondo Harbor were just part of a six-day gathering that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson organized for some teammates with former Margate resident and Holy Spirit High School graduate Jeremy "Troll" Subin last April.
"Make no mistake about it," Wilson told SI.com last week. "The road to the Super Bowl began in Hermosa Beach. We went there as teammates, and we came back as fraternity brothers."
Wilson, who threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos, decided to get a head start on the team's official offseason workouts with an informal, voluntary camp in hopes of developing camaraderie and chemistry with some of the other skill players on Seattle's offense.
He reached out to Subin, a 1985 Holy Spirit graduate who owns The Yard fitness center in Hermosa Beach, located about 20 miles from Santa Monica on the Southern California coast.
Wilson was among 21 players who participated, along with wide receivers Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse, plus fullback/special teams standout Michael Robinson. Baldwin led the Seahawks with five receptions for 66 yards and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Wilson against the Broncos. Kearse had four receptions for 65 yards, including a 23-yard TD reception.
"Russell contacted me, and we sat down and developed a precise plan and then modified it as we went along," Subin said Monday in a phone interview. "They trained very hard and were very focused the entire time, but we also did things that would take them out of their comfort zone in order to develop a bond and fellowship. When it was over, I had a feeling that it was a gropup that would be ready for any challenges and be able to overcome adversity. The optimism and synergy was really powerful."
Subin, 47, was no stranger to working with elite athletes.
A former rower and basketball player at Holy Spirit, he excelled in powerlifting in college at Temple University, then moved to fitness-crazed California 26 years ago to become a trainer. He worked at a Gold's Gym for a while before opening The Yard 20 years ago.
He's trained numerous professional and college athletes over the years. His facility is currently home to 32 members of the U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball developmental program. Previously, he worked with Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker and former Buffalo wide receiver Andre Reed.
Subin admitted to having mixed emotions about Super Bowl weekend. He was happy for the Seahawks and Reed, who was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend. But he felt bad for Welker, who he helped recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2010.
"This weekend kind of took a strange turn for me," Subin said. "It was a huge thrill for me to see Andre finally get into the Hall of Fame, and it was great to see the Seahawks win. But I feel bad for Wes. He's one of the best human beings, best people I've ever known. Obviously, as a supporter and friend I would have loved to see him get a ring. But I guess everybody can't win."
He was especially glad for Wilson, who just finished his second season in the NFL, but has proven himself to be a tremendous leader, motivator and player.
Those qualities were apparent to Subin during the team's stay in Hermosa Beach.
The players stayed in a nearby hotel and took a bus to The Yard for workouts in the gym and on the beach across the street. A local food company, My Fit Foods, catered the meals. In the afternoons, the group headed over to Mira Costa High School to run routes and catch passes. Wilson insisted on footing the bill.
Wilson and the players found time to relax as well. Besides the paddle-boarding sessions, they also watched Millville native Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels in action and took in a Lakers game
"Hermosa Beach exceeded my expectations," Wilson told SI.com. "I already knew I had great teammates, but the time in California allowed us to bond away from the distractions of everyday life. No cameras, no coaches, no pressure. Just a bunch of teammates accountable to each other and no one else."
Mira Costa football coach Don Morrow donated the use of the fields in exchange for the players spending time with some special needs students at the field. Before they left, they gave Morrow an autographed football and thanked the staff at My Fit Foods by presenting them with "12th Man" Seahawks jerseys.
Considering the way their season turned out, Subin wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson and company back in Hermosa Beach in two months.
"I got the impression that they got a lot out of it," Subin said. "I'm hoping to see even more of the players this year, and hopefully we can build it into an annual thing."
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