Sports Trainer Index is the name and helping kids land over 4 million dollars in athletic scholarships is the game. Lets recap the numbers shall we. I said over 4 million dollars in athletic scholarships for kids in all sorts of sports. The man behind it all is named Evan Turkish, he has engineered the contacts and alliances that are needed to even be relevant in the world of recruiting. Sports Trainer Index is not a big fish by any means. However, they are growing and growing fast.
In my interview with Evan, he explained that the original goal for the company was to provide a knowledge base of training resources in every city. His goal was not to build a recruiting service. It was to build a network of sports trainers that would help kids work toward their goal of playing at the highest level they possibly could.
With the goal in mind Evan put a strong list of training organizations together all over the country. He then started using the list to refer kids that were interested in working to getting better so they could be recruited.
The best things in life are free but training and recruiting are not. So lets look at the numbers and see why this affordable service is a great steal for families that are looking for help and guidance but don’t want to get caught up with hidden fees.
Your package fee is a one time fee that encompasses the relationship you have with STI. Things like phone conversation coaching or email response reviews all come with the base fee. What I have found through all of my research is that if you are thinking to start these processes in Junior year you would be miles behind. According to Evan “These things start around 8th – 9th grade. By junior year summer we are showcasing you in camps that match your goals”
Everything I have observed about STI has been solid support of the athletes and families that have signed up with them. I hope what I have seen stays the same as they grow. It is easy to lose sight of the primary goals when things get hectic. People start racing for profits and lose the point that it was about helping youth find a path to education.
I received three Inferno’s by Hot Feet Sports in the spring of 2016 and we put them to use immediately with our athletic population. I have seen a massive improvement in the general footwork of all our athletes who have participated in the our strength program, and the addition of the Inferno by Hot Feet Sports has been a major contributor to this process.
The inferno has the ability to be used in multiple manners, while being unique in its own way. When laying flat on the ground the grids can be used as you would an agility ladder. When elevated it can be used much like agility hurdles. These two things together in one is a definite benefit.
We began using these in the winter of 2015/2016, and I could see a rapid improvement in the footwork of our athletes. The 5×5 grid pattern allows you to run 3 athletes through while working on basic linear foot speed and ground contacts. The same can be applied sideways, working with athletes on staying square, taking proper steps and not crossing over.
Once we got the basics of footwork down, we started combining the drills, running one athlete through the grid in a desired pattern. The ability to have athletes move forward, backward, and side to side while maintaining proper footwork has made the Inferno a mainstay in our speed and agility program.
Once we were able to train outdoors we took the Inferno with us. We elevated the Inferno, which then forced the athletes to not only move their feet quickly, but to pick them up and set them down quickly. Not only are we teaching quick feet, we are developing knee drive. This also creates a plyometric effect, teaching the kids the quicker and faster they get their feet moving, the quicker and faster they move through the drills. Another great feature of the Inferno would be the ability level. Drills can be designed for beginner to highly experienced athletes without time loss. I can have a senior in high school and a seventh grader in the same line.
The Inferno also has the ability to teach kids how to move both feet. Most younger athletes are dominant with one foot, and the ability to step forward with the other foot can be very difficult to teach and learn. The Inferno allows us to train opposite foot first training very easily, and repeatedly. As a strength coach this tool is highly valuable to me. It is easy to set up, its highly efficient, and it produces results. We used these in the beginning as a learning tool, but as we began to see results in foot speed and quickness we started using the Inferno for competitive purposes as well. It has aided us as a way to learn to compete.
The Inferno develops foot speed and quickness. Foot speed and quickness are very important tools for an athlete’s success. The ability to train those skills with one piece of equipment saves us a lot of time, and we get the same if not better results. I highly recommend it to any strength coach that needs to develop foot speed and quickness.
We will continue to use the Inferno, it has been a very valuable training tool. I am most excited about starting an offseason and have full use of the Inferno. We will continue to use it once or twice a week, and we can continue to develop new drills. The only limiting factor with drills in the Inferno is your creativeness.
Kirk Ferentz has been turning 2 and 3 star recruits into NFL caliber players during his entire 17-year tenure at the University of Iowa. So usually I don’t bat an eye when I see that Iowa has the 11th or 12th best recruiting class in the big ten. So when I see that the 2017 Iowa football recruiting class is 11th in the NATION. I would say that’s a pretty big deal. Ferentz has proven he can turn guys without All-American talent into all Big Ten caliber players. So what will Kirk be able to do with the likes of Eno Benjamin, Tristan Wirfs, and AJ Epenesa?
Chad Greenway is the prime example of an unheralded recruit that coach Ferentz got the most out of. Greenway was wait for it, an unrated recruit coming out of high school. Greenway went from unrated recruit to first round pick in the NFL draft. Greenway has continued his success in the NFL as 2 time pro bowler.
Ferentz has proven that he can get the most out of middle of the pack recruits as well. Especially the offensive lineman. Brandon Scherff for example was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school. Coach Ferentz turned Scherff into an all American player and a top 5 NFL draft pick. Ferentz has proven time and again that he’s got what it takes to produce elite NFL caliber talent out of his offensive lineman. Marshall Yanda is widely regarded as the best offensive guard in the NFL. Yanda, Riley Rieff, Scherff, Brian Bulaga, and Robert gallery are just a few other NFL offensive lineman that coach Kirk has produced. I think that Tristan Wirfs of Mt. Vernon will follow in these lineman’s successful footsteps.
Eno Benjamin, a 4-star running back out of Texas and AJ Epenesa, a 5-star defensive end out of Illinois are both regarded as two of the highest ranked recruits that Ferentz has ever had in Iowa city. So should Kirk coach these guys any different? The simple answer to that question, no. If any of these highly coveted recruits are not ready to play right away, then they should be red shirted. I am not saying that they will not be ready. I am saying that if they are not then redshirt them and save them another year of eligibility. The bottom line is Kirk knows how to coach, no matter the personality or the talent Kirk will get any player to buy into the system and play for the team.
The 2017 recruiting class will benefit the Iowa Hawkeye football program exponentially. When Kirk gets that kind of talent and then instills them with the hard nosed Hawkeye work ethic, only good things can come from that combination. All you have to do is look at the track record of what Kirk has done with the talent he has had. It can only get better. The product on the field can only get better with more talent and continued good coaching. The 2017 recruiting class will be the first of many classes to come that are lined with prized 4 and 5 star recruits at the University of Iowa.
In many ways the 2015 season was one of the, if not the, greatest season in Iowa Hawkeye football history. 2015 was the first time in the Hawks’ storied history that a team had finished the regular season undefeated. They were a 9 minute Michigan State drive away from crashing the college football playoff party. The Hawks return 14 starters in 2016 including cornerstones in Desmond King on the defensive side and C.J. “sunshine” Beathard at quarterback. The question Hawkeye fans everywhere are asking, can Iowa repeat its success from 2015?
Many early pre season polls have the Hawks ranked anywhere between 15-20 but I don’t pay to much attention to that. If you take a look at the 2016 schedule for the Hawks all of their toughest games are at Kinnick stadium. Those games include: Wisconsin, Michigan, and the fighting Harbaugh’s of Michigan. Home field advantage should pay dividends in these games. However, the Hawks still need to show up ready to play in these crucial games because their opposition will be ready to pounce on the Hawks if they are not. A prime example of that would be the rose bowl, from the very beginning I thought Iowa came out flat and the Stanford Cardinal and standout running back Christian Mccaffrey made the Hawks pay from the get go.
One home game that I’m going to put Iowa on upset alert will be the Iowa state game. Upset alert is a game that the Hawks should win but could lose. Iowa State’s new coach Matt Campbell will be looking to make a statement early in his career and nothing would do that more than a road win at their arch rival Iowa Hawkeyes. If Iowa simply plays up to their potential there is only one game that I can see the Hawks losing, and that would be to Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines. This November night game will be a classic hard hitting Big Ten brawl. The Michigan Wolverines have more talent than just about anyone in the Big Ten and in the country. Jim Haurbaugh’s arrival has resurrected the program from mediocrity. Almost the same as “New Kirk” has for Iowa.
I have the Hawks winning the Big Ten West once again this year and going back to the Big Ten Championship where they will meet back up against Michigan and avenge their only blemish on the season. From there, it’s a toss up. With that resume at 12-1 and Big Ten Champs I would think that the College Football Playoff Committee would have no reasons to keep Iowa out of the four team party.
The answer to the question I asked before is yes. The Hawks will live up to the hype in 2016 and it is something many players are embracing. Desmond King’s decision to forgo the NFL draft and come back for his senior season will prove to be huge for this bunch. King is the first EVER Jim Thorpe award winner to come back to school, all other winners of this award have either graduated or chosen to declare for the NFL draft. This Iowa team knows that the target will be on it’s back this year, I believe it is something that they will embrace. They can’t play the underdog role as they did last year but they don’t need to. 2015 proved to the players and fans that the Hawks have what it takes to succeed. The confidence built last season will boil over into this year, while these Hawks will still be hungry and strive to better themselves after the way the 2015 season ended.
Honestly speaking my assumption when I started this research project was that the role of a high school coach was diminished. All of the communication methods that allow direct contact with the athlete made them irrelevant. Essentially, the gap between schools and players was closing with technology and the high school coach is the odd man out. To the contrary, what I found is the job has become more complex, enhanced and more about relationships than ever.
I talked to Tarig Holman, head football coach at Randolph High School in New Jersey. This guy has been exceptional his whole life and it shows in his coaching. Tarig’s approach to his high school team is what he terms “College Bound”. “I want our student athletes to understand that we are a college bound program” said Holman. This sparked my interest because it was a different focus than most high school programs that I have come across. At Randolph coach Holman has made it clear that he wants his players looking to further their education regardless of the level of football they play or if they play football at all. The focus is more academic. The reason for this is the numbers says Holman, who is realistic with his players. A D1 safety at Iowa in his time, he understands that D1 talent doesn’t just happen every day. “You have to build a relationship with the athletes so they believe you have their best interests in mind when you make suggestions” he said. Sometimes the reality that you are not a D1 athlete is hard to take but then seeing where your academics make you attractive at other levels opens up doors for you. Holman said, that the only way you can be real in that conversation is with a relationship.
Our conversation quickly moved from talent to relationship. It’s all about the relationship for a coach today because there are many people lining up to be that support for a price. Holman has relationships with players, other high school coaches and of course college coaches that he can keep in touch with when the dust settles from the previous season’s college football coaches carousel. A unique relationship building activity that I learned of was kind of an introduction night for athletes and schools. The event incorporates athletes from several area high schools, High School coaches and College coaches, or recruiting coordinators. When Tarig explained that they did this activity for sophomores to seniors I remembered other conversations about recruiting starting at a younger age. He said that it was all part of his goals to remind his players that the program is a “College Bound” program.
What do you make of all of the technology out there, I asked to see if he was up on the latest communication methods. Tarig was not even phased by the question. He has seen it all as it becomes popular then falls off. “Today people can reach you or find a way to reach you without you ever meeting them” he exclaimed. That difference has him also working as a sort of media / social media guide for his players as well. “We try and remind the guys that what you put out there is available for everyone to see”. With so much air time and broadcast yourself out there athletes quickly forget that it is a dangerous world out there where people are looking for anything to make a story of.
Although the role has some new wrinkles in it I like what Coach Holman had to say which reminded me greatly of the men that guided me and probably most of us back in the non-social era. It is still about a personal relationship that can impact the lives of young people. “If a coach is doing his job his players know his heart for them. I love my job”, Holman said.
Stuff to take away from this story
Be open to a relationship with your coaches that would allow them to guide you and even share their knowledge and contacts with you.
Find out about the things that your school does to help students find a college.
Your success in playing at the next level helps the program as a whole.
A long long time ago I was recruited to the university of Iowa to play fullback for the Iowa Hawkeye football team from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I had no clue who the coaches were, where the school was, what Iowa was famous for, and the list goes on baby. Even with all of that going for me, I decided to play for coach Hayden Fry who had a legendary 20 year run as Iowa’s Head Hawk. When I say this happened back in 1994 most peoples jaws drop through the floor. They don’t understand how a kid from Canada could be recruited without tweets, grams, vines or hudls. Even then, resourceful coaches were working in the background collecting information from sources all across the world to find the next “Diaper Dandy” as Dick Vitale endearingly referred to great freshmen players.
Today, for Tyler Schamel a 5’10” wide receiver at 3A state runner up Norwalk high school in Norwalk, IA who has a profile on the web showing his picture, 4.65. 40 time and brainy GPA, the world is even smaller and the competition for the attention of coaches is even bigger. Think about the changes in just finding out about a school. In 94 there were no websites listing the coaching staff. There were no email addresses and the fastest way to send a message across the wire that was not a phone call was this old dusty technology called a FAX. In my chat with Tyler, he shared that he is smarter than your average high school kid. Why, because Tyler uses the same type of email marketing tools that big companies use to analyze the effectiveness of a message to buyers to assess the interest of a coaching staff. “I can see if they open the message and if I get a response”. He excitedly noted that it was not challenging to find the email of a coach by using the recruiting service. He said the recruiting services have really helped him reach out to coaches. So what role does that leave for your friendly neighbor hood high school coach.
When I asked if all of the services and film have diminished the role of the high school coach. Tyler laid it out there, “our coach is amazing and even more important today than ever!” He shared that, his coaching staff have supported his goal to continue playing football after high school. Tyler is primarily a D2 to D3 prospect so it’s not like he does not have to compete for the interest of coaches. His high school coaches help him and his teammates with visits, collecting assignments, and coaching him on how to connect with perspective schools. He couldn’t say enough about the support he has received from the staff. The big difference today, is that the film, if you want to watch it is online and available with a simple search for Tyler Schamel.
There is something to be said for having a strong team that believes and achieves. Norwalk is that school and Tyler is one of the keys to their success. There is nothing like winning to make people listen and Tyler found that out right away. “Before getting to the state championship game you have a few coaches that will talk to you. When we hit the championship game there were many other coaches contacting me and asking about my film”. The Warriors, like other teams to finish in the state finals, has a few kids that are being watched and offered by Power 5 conferences. What coaches know is that the talent on the team does just stop at those players. With any team to get to the finals they need horses in the stables that can catch 5 touchdowns. Coaches are always on the lookout for that kid that might have not had the biggest stats or all of the data from testing combines but show up on the big day in a big way.
Intangibles are factors like speed, strength, agility, height that although measurable beat out most other factors when looking to recruit a player. Talking to a recruiter from the Green Bay Packers last year made that absolutely clear. The intangibles for a player are the first things looked at. You can’t beat those with training. You can’t train 7 feet tall, stamina that doesn’t quit, leadership, or a fastball that is effortless. Whatever those traits are, the recruit must highlight their intangibles before anything else even your team or individual record.
At the end of the day some how years ago with no technology this world was huge and coaches still found me in the frozen tundra of Edmonton, Alberta. Today with some smarts and tools that are out there it is easier to communicate who you are to coaches, and recruiting coordinators. Tyler’s advice to all the juniors and sophomores out there that are getting started in their quest to continue playing the game that they love is “Get to camps where people can see you live, it makes a big difference”. Just remember that the opportunity you have is available to kids all around the world. The communication is easier now but the competition is a whole lot harder. Someone is working, don’t guess as to who it is, KNOW it is you.
Best of luck to 14 Tyler Schamel and thank you for taking the time to enlighten us.
Next in the series, I talk to several high school coaches about how their role has been adjusted in this ultra connected world. After that an interview with a good friend of mine who’s daughter just finished her senior season of volley ball and son is a top high school football prospect.
Hot Feet Make Plays so keep em hot and be a play maker.
Spring is here and time to get those feet blazing. Our Spring into agility camps are designed to work a young athletes ability to explode off the mark coming from a complete stop, or a slow down to change of direction. Most camps focus on starting maintaining speed. At Hot Feet we understand that if you can’t stop effectively you are way to far behind for your start to matter. Start, Stop, Start again, Hot Feet Make Plays!!!!!!
Great plays are made when anticipation, meets reaction, mixed with preparation, and topped with experience. Great players make great plays because they are in the right place. You can’t get to the right place without the feet.