Before the Seahawks take the field on game day or a practice, plenty of meticulous preparation goes into making sure everything is smooth sailing. Season 2 of The Sound continues to delve deeper into the inner-workings of the franchise, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at the personnel off the field that help put the Seahawks in the best-position to succeed.
Episode 5 introduced us to Assistant Equipment Manager Trevor Neal, looking back at the year-long process of developing Seattle's revamped throwback uniforms for this season's Week 8 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
Before gameday, there's a week of hard-nosed, meticulously-scheduled practice. Continuing with the theme, Episode 6 of the Sound continues to introduce us to the equipment team to further hone their importance. The episode kicks off with head equipment manager Austin Bui, a rising star in the support staff department. Preparation is key, and the episode begins in the wee hours of the morning as Bui puts together the daily schedule for the building. Bui's job description entails far more than handing out helmets and shoulder pads, and the episode gives a glimpse at the "grit" around the building. As he prepares the day's practice schedule, the former intern discusses his rise in the organization.
"I first started six years ago as an intern," said Bui. "Obviously right out of college, I did this in college as well. Just started from the bottom, worked my tail off - and got a great opportunity to work for a hometown team because I'm from here. And an opportunity to work under EK (Erik Kennedy), one of the greats."
Officially earning his title of Director of Equipment in 1989, Kennedy’s time working with Seattle goes back to his days as a student at Redmond High, more than 30 years ago. Through working with multiple coaches, thousands of players and plenty of staff changes, Kennedy knows the drive, commitment and fire it takes to keep up with the pace, a trait that Bui possesses.
"Austin was a young man that worked really hard," said Kennedy. "Passionate, a little fiery. I like a little fire sometimes, because he's willing to fight for himself and maybe give me something back. He has taken over the role of equipment manager for the team, it's a position that we created a few years ago when Chad Sensabaugh was here, and he has now departed. So, when Austin took that role over, it gave an opportunity, because he is able to handle the practice schedule. He understands how the flow of it goes."
Seattle's practice script is a visual rundown of the day's activities broken down by-the-minute. Episode 6 takes us into coaches meetings with Bui, as he precisely prepares the practice schedule and distributes throughout the building - from coaching and medical staffs to Coach Carroll. Neal makes his second appearance on the series, as the trio leads the rigorous preparation for practices seven days a week.
Whether for style, comfort or safety, apparel prep and customization for every player is unique. As viewers get a glimpse of Bui helping to maintain the flow of practice, Kennedy introduces Assistant Equipment Manager Derin Lazuta. From head to toe, Lazuta helps fit players for helmets and equipment, while balancing working with quarterbacks.
"Derin Lazuta has been here for feels like 30 years," said Kennedy. "Derin has probably been here for 18-19 years; he's been here for a long time. Derin works on our helmets and shoulder pads, it's one of those jobs that's tedious at times; because it's the same thing over-and-over again. His attention to detail is really strong, I don't know how he does it every day for all these years. But he's very good at what he does that way, and making sure everything is real-particular. It's just perfect. For him, it's one of the most important things about his job. Now when it comes to practice, Derin works with the quarterbacks. So he worked with Matt (Hasselback), Russ (Wilson), Geno (Smith), Drew (Lock) and all the quarterbacks we've had here."
The family atmosphere is important for the franchise, and incoming players continue to use The Sound to express their appreciation. Free-agency defensive end acquisition Dre'Mont Jones breaks down his appreciation for the staff after his short time in Seattle this offseason.
"I feel like the equipment staff doesn't get enough credit for the things they do," said Jones. "They do so much stuff behind the scenes, sometimes stuff that we don't know about. The stuff they do, whether washing the clothes, folding the clothes, preparing the clothes - just getting everything ready for us, so we can have everything we need at any moment. I think here, they go over-and-above what needs to be done. There hasn't been a thing that I asked for that they couldn't do or couldn't fix. And I haven't even been here that long. I got a lot of love and respect for that room, and also outside of what they do for a job - they're a bunch of great people too. They're always joking around with us, having fun - we really feel like a team together."
Fellow free-agent safety acquisition Julian Love praises Kennedy for the environment created by the football staff when players need assistance.
"Our equipment staff is right at the end of one side of the room," said Love. "So you feel comfortable going in there, kickin' it. Erik Kennedy creates an environment where you come in and just chat. You'll see me grabbing a gift or two, if I forget something. Asking questions, grabbing some food - hopefully somebody brings a donut so I can grab a piece. It's such a communal environment. That's huge."
Episode 6 continues to paint the picture of the dynamic between player and personnel, as fans get a witness of the true family atmosphere in the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. As the 2023 season continues to inch closer, The Sound gives fans new faces to root for and appreciate within the organization.
Check out the behind the scenes of the sixth episode of season two of The Sound "Like Family". This episode showcases the Seahawks equipment staff who ensures that the team has everything they need in order to execute at a high level on the football field.