Gulls ready for combat with help from Marines, Coast Guard

The Seaside Gulls are ready to toe the line for the 2018 football season.

Seaside football players will run the Marine Corps combat fitness test before Thursday’s youth football camp at Broadway Field. After that, the Coast Guard will present Seaside athletes with some brand-new exercise equipment.

So, unofficially, tonight will be “military night” at Broadway Field, where a few Marines and Coast Guardsmen will help Seaside athletes prepare for the fall sports season.

It’s all part of making Seaside athletes the best they can be, and helping Seaside High School keep its “School of Champions” title.

After all, Seaside sports have won five state championships since 2014, and the Gulls will almost certainly add to that total this school year.

Conditioning is part of every high school’s athletic program, but Seaside is unmatched when it comes to preparing its athletes for competition.

This summer, Seaside athletes “have been working out with us, spending four days a week in the weight room, and just getting after it,” said Dan Leary, the Gulls’ strength and conditioning coach, and founder of the ‘Seaside Barbell’ program. “We’re really excited to see how that plays out this fall. We do it for two reasons: to increase athletic performance, and more importantly, to reduce the potential for injury.”

In 2010, Leary was stationed in Clatsop County, working at the Coast Guard rescue swimmer training facility.

He called Seaside High School and volunteered to do strength and conditioning training with the football team. “Coach Stubby Lions opened his arms to both me and my wife Marjorie,” he said.

Leary became a certified trainer in 2013 and created Seaside Barbell. He says he followed the rescue swimmer training methodologies in setting up the Seaside Barbell program. He has seen a 25 percent reduction in injuries for the football team.

Coaches in other disciplines saw the value of the program, and now the Learys screen participants in all boys and girls athletics at Seaside.

“We’re not a big school,” Leary said, “and most of our (football) kids play both ways, so we’ve really got to make them ironmen to play 90-plus plays a game.”

And that, he said, “is why the summer is so important to build that good foundation. We’ve been blessed, because every sport donates two hours a week in the weight room.”

Speaking of donations, Seaside will be on the receiving end Thursday night at Broadway Field.

At 5:30 p.m., before Seaside’s youth football camp starts, members of the Marine Corps will run a combat fitness test with the Gulls.

“I started out in the Marine Corps, and they’ve been phenomenal for us,” Leary said, speaking for Seaside athletics. “They have supported the football team, helped run the clock, they’ve helped the track team and the wrestling team.

“I was talking with one of the recruiters recently, and he said, ‘would you (the Seaside football team) like to run the Marine Corps combat fitness test for conditioning?’”

The Gulls accepted.

“It’s something different, and the kids will get excited about it,” Leary said.

The combat fitness test will be run before Thursday’s youth football camp.

After the camp, about 7:30 p.m., the Seaside athletic department will receive some exercise equipment, donated by the Coast Guard.

“The Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer’s association is coming over, and they’re donating about $1,500 worth of gear to our weight room,” said Leary, a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard. “I saw where they give out donations, so I went to them, and said ‘would you be interested in donating that to the high school?’ They said they’d love to. What do you need?’”

The Coast Guard “stepped up,” Leary said, “and they bought us two new AirDyne exercise bikes, which we need. There’s different ways to condition kids, and these bikes and rowers and stuff like that are key to keeping the kids in the best shape we can.”

So to call it a military night, “it almost is,” Leary said. “We get the most bang for the buck, and the most public viewing on a youth football night.”

Seaside football, meanwhile, will be one of the main challengers for a state championship at the 4A level this season, following last year’s performance.

“We had a tremendous outpouring of kids this summer, especially with the football team,” Leary said. “Four workouts a week for the summer, both mornings and afternoons, and then in-season we work out twice a week. We’re ready. There’s a lot of promise for the football team.”

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