The Making of Athletes

Courtesy Photos

Courtesy Photos

By Zach Burrell

I’m greeted by Tony Duckwall, co-owner of Edge Sports Performance, on a cold March morning outside King Louie’s Sports Complex in Middletown. It’s a scene almost lifted from fiction: The grizzled trainer ushers me into the massive training facility to start the day while the morning fog still lingers. The facility has two indoor turfed fields designed for anything from lacrosse to arena football, in addition to a sports field outside. The training section of the building is lined with multiple lifting racks and free weights, adjacent to a sprint track for running drills and cardio workouts.

Today, I’m observing a private training session with one of his athletes, Tobijah Hughley, as he prepares for NFL Pro Day later this month. Duckwall knows a thing or two about working with pro athletes; his clients have amassed over $35 million in scholarships and contracts and won 16 All-American titles as well as multiple professional football conference titles. But on this day, his sole focus is on Hughley.

Before he begins anything, Duckwall subjects his trainee to a series of stretches and warm-ups, while a small Bluetooth speaker helps get Hughley out of the morning grogginess and into the zone.

One of the main goals of Edge Sports Performance is to make sure its athletes don’t get hurt, plain and simple. With workouts like CrossFit and P90X having become more popular in recent years, Duckwall stresses to me the importance of having a trained professional help with workouts to correct form, ensure safety and provide structure. Boasting a low injury rate, Duckwall hasn’t had an athlete suffer any major injuries in over six years while here in Louisville, and not a single ACL injury in four years, one of the most injury-prone areas of the body.

When Duckwall feels Hughley is ready to get pumped up, we move to the bench press. Between sets while watching Hughley lift upward of 225 pounds with relative ease, Duckwall explains the mission of Edge Sports Performance. He has a simple belief that many trainers often overlook: To become a great player, you first have to become a great athlete. “It’s important to start young and learn the fundamentals of fitness first,” emphasizes Duckwall. He offers classes to young sports enthusiasts called Speed School, which teaches basic body awareness and movement mechanics as opposed to focusing on a particular sport or event. Once they’re older, they move into the NXT level courses, which help them prepare for high school and college sports.

While most of the drills and workouts are geared toward budding athletes and elite team players, some are simply geared toward anyone that wants to get in the best shape of their life. Edge Sports Performance has a series of adult training boot camps and classes that apply the same fundamentals and techniques used in their athlete training programs to anyone who wants to train hard and stay safe. Edge offers programs that allow fitness enthusiasts to work out with an unlimited amount of classes, ranging from early bird classes at 5:30 a.m. to after work evening workouts.

What’s most important to Duckwall, above all the maxed bench press numbers and shorter sprint times, is helping his trainees reach their goals. As I watch Duckwall train Hughley, I saw more than a trainer helping a client lift enormously heavy weights. I saw a smart, experienced veteran help his friend do what he needs to succeed. VT

Edge Sports Performance