VMAC ‘invasion’

An out-of-the-ordinary thing happened at the start of the Seahawks’ OTA session today: The practice was invaded.

As the players were lining up for pre-practice stretching, Capt. James Lienaw and 82 members of his Cherokee Troop 2-1 Cavalry/4th Stryker Brigade appeared atop the berm on the east side of the practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center and …

Charged the field.

The players stopped and applauded as the soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord made their way to the lake side of the fields.

The field trip was supposed to be a surprise, but Lienaw ended the suspense by telling his troops about the outing last week. Their reaction?

“Ecstatic,” he said. “We definitely have some NFL fans.”

Lienaw and his troop leave tomorrow night for a month of training in the Southern California desert. They will be deployed to Afghanistan this fall.

“This is a fun, motivational, last-hurrah thing just before we go and train for a month,” Lienaw said. “It’s going to be very challenging down there.”

Lienaw used, and will use, what his troop saw today in his “coaching.”

“Even some of the minute drills that they’re running out here – some of the rehearsals, the repetitions, the communication – that transcends everything that we do,” he said. “And the teamwork element and the trust, that’s something that is underestimated in so many jobs.”

Football is a sport filled with war terminology and analogies. But when the Seahawks “go to war,” it’s not quite the same as the assignment that awaits Lienaw and his troop.

“It’s pretty humbling,” center Max Unger said after practice. “You kind of hear what they have going on and where they’re going and that kind of puts it in perspective. I’m sure you guys have heard it – it sounds pretty cliché – but you kind of get chills just thinking that these guys are going to be deployed. It’s pretty cool.”

Just like the soldiers’ last-hurrah visit to a Seahawks practice on a nice afternoon along the shores of Lake Washington.

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