By Karen Billing
Up above the Torrey Pines High School football field is a cluster of wooden obstacles. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much but that collection of humble, worn wood once helped support the career of Junior Seau, 12- time Pro Bowler, member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team and San Diego sports legend.
On Sunday, Nov. 27, Seau will again take the field at Qualcomm Stadium to officially join the ranks of fellow Charger greats in the Chargers Hall of Fame.
“It’s something that I’ll treasure forever,” Seau said of becoming part of the special football fraternity, a moment he will share with his family on the field.
Seau, called “the heart and soul” of the Chargers by President Dean Spanos for his 13 years as a Bolt, was able to play 20 seasons in the punishing NFL. He credits a lot of that lasting power to his workouts on the Torrey Pines High School “Patch” and believes strongly in the physical, mental and unique challenges that the course offers.
Developed by Pete Egoscue of Carmel Valley-based Egoscue Inc., The Patch is a physical training course inspired by those used by the United States Military. The Egoscue Method is a series of stretches and exercises designed to restore full natural function to muscles and joints without drugs or surgery, and the Patch course was designed to focus on proper alignment, posture and muscle engagement.
Egoscue built the Torrey Pines Patch 12 years ago with help from John Lynch, the TPHS grad who was a Super Bowl-winning safety and nine-time Pro Bowler in his 15 NFL seasons.
Participants get their workout performing various exercises on, around and under the system of logs. Trainer Liba Placek starting working out with Seau for the last six years of his career, near daily during the off-season at Torrey Pines.
“You can do everything, cardio, stamina, agility, using all the different positions your body gets into playing football,” Placek said. “Not just like the weight room where you’re only using one position. That’s not what happens in the game, that’s why it’s so popular for football players, as well as volleyball players, who like it for the jumping.”
Seau said the workout loosened his hips and kept him aligned, from his hips down to his knees and to his ankles. He said everyone’s body naturally has a dominant side and a weak side and people rarely strengthen their weak side. The Patch workout helped him strengthen that weak side and continue to dominate on the football field for years longer.
“It helped keep everything balanced, giving me a better chance to stay healthy,” Seau said.
Helping prevent injury is very important for athletes looking to boost their longevity. While the humble Placek won’t say the only reason why athletes she’s trained have had long careers is because of the Patch workouts, it has certainly played its part: she also helped train Padres pitcher Trevor Hoffman, who played 18 seasons in the MLB, and Chris Dudley, who had a 16-year career in the NBA.