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Seals’ Commitment to San Diego Takes a Giant Leap Forward With New Practice Field

Thursday, February 22nd marked a monumental day in the history of the San Diego Seals, YMCA of San Diego County and Rady Children’s Hospital, as the three entities officially held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the recently completed Rady Children’s Field.

The brand-new Seals’ outdoor practice facility and community athletic center is housed at The T. Claude and Gladys B. Ryan Family YMCA, located in San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood. It’s 1.5 miles west of Pechanga Arena and five miles northwest of downtown San Diego.

Luminaries from the aforementioned organizations were on hand for the festivities, with the smiles on everyone’s faces shining as brightly as the sun-splashed San Diego sky above.

Since their inception, the Seals would hold pre-game practice sessions in a field in the Pechanga Arena parking lot, with in-market players utilizing a variety of fitness and physical therapy centers throughout San Diego. But now the franchise has a state-of-the-art practice venue to call their own, both in-season and during the summer/fall.

“It’s an indication of the commitment that Joe Tsai (Seals owner) has to this sport and league and how he treats all his sports endeavors,” stated Seals’ CEO Paul Speaker. “This is another example of Joe making sure that everything is first class. Not only do we have an opportunity for our team to practice in the best environment, but there is great opportunity for visiting teams to have that same luxury.”

With the million-dollar field firmly in place, the team’s next objective involves building temporary changing rooms and showers, so the Seals are able to conduct their NLL business without negatively impacting the bustling Ryan YMCA campus. The new practice space centered around the renovation of an outdoor YMCA piece of land that had fallen into disrepair.

NLL Commissioner Brett Frood, who was unable to attend the event, echoed similar sentiments as relates to the level of devotion being exercised by a Seals’ leadership group determined to conduct business in a top-notch manner, both on and off the field.

“Joe Tsai and the San Diego Seals’ dedication to the growth of lacrosse in Southern California has been prodigious and is critical for the long-term success of the National Lacrosse League and equally valuable for all lacrosse disciplines. The opening of the organization’s new training and practice facility exemplifies this commitment and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the local San Diego community.”

The triad of organizations represented in the practice field collaboration collectively share a firmly held belief in the importance of giving back to the municipality they reside in, while simultaneously devoting their lives to the betterment of the next generation of San Diegans. With this mind, the Seals, YMCA and Rady Children’s wholeheartedly endorse the shared use of this playing surface for activities well beyond that of professional lacrosse, whether it be youth lacrosse, soccer, tag or any other form of amusement that gets kids moving.

“This is a very unique situation. In not many professional sports do young, aspiring athletes get to play on the exact same surface as their heroes. This is a great opportunity for kids to imagine themselves as professional athletes,” noted Speaker.

Rady Children’s Hospital President & CEO, Dr. Patricio A. Frias, provided the medical perspective regarding the overarching importance of a complex such as this and why he is so proud to attach his highly-rated hospital to this enterprise.

“Rady Children’s is here if your child is ill or recovering from injury 24/7/365. But it’s just as important to us that we keep your children out of the hospital; in fact it’s much more important,” educated Frias.

The former CEO of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta later added: “Anything we can do to support health and wellness, not just physical health and well-being, but also mental health and well-being, which is absolutely a crisis in all our communities. We, like the Seals and like the YMCA, know one way to do that is to get kids out of the house, get them off video games and involved in sports.”

The level of mutual admiration that exists among the three participating bodies was as observable as a Coronado Island sunset, with the venue provider, sports franchise and children’s care center representatives making it abundantly clear how excited they are to be in business with one another.

“At the YMCA, our vision is to transform lives and community. The catalytic force that really generates this is partnership, and we have two great partners,” opined Todd Tibbits, President & CEO of YMCA of San Diego County.

Jonathon Collopy, Executive Director of the Ryan Family YMCA, echoed an identical level of satisfaction.

“We are over the moon with this opportunity to come together.”

Seals players Jake Govett, Wes Berg, Christopher Origlieri and Cam Holding were in attendance for the gathering, with Holding’s presence reminding observers of the integral role he played in turning Rady Children’s Field from aspirational dream into brilliant reality. Holding, who works in the San Diego real estate industry, served as project director for the development, with the Seals’ assistant captain leaving no stone unturned in the process.

“We are so fortunate to have Cam’s knowledge and bandwidth to take over this entire project, from its inception to the ribbon cutting,” said Speaker. “There is way more that goes into building a facility like this than just laying concrete and putting boards up. There is a lot of work that needs to be done regarding sightlines and lighting, along with the turf itself.”

The Seals’ CEO further expressed his appreciation for the former Michigan State men’s lacrosse coach.

“Cam was instrumental in every element of the project. It’s really great to have that work ethic, along with the special understanding and skillset of being a player and understanding what is best for the athletes on the field.”

Holding, who sells real estate for The Guiltinan Group, beams with pride when discussing his enormous accomplishment.

“We are thrilled to finally open the Rady Children’s Field to the San Diego community,” proclaimed the defensive stalwart. “This project has been in the works for a long time and it was certainly worth the wait. This is a field that members of the San Diego Seals, Ryan Family YMCA and Rady Children’s Hospital are very proud of. It is also a space that will encourage the continued growth of youth sports in San Diego.”

NLL