Boys/Girls Club offers new fitness program

By Marvin Birchfield

   Sometimes it's hard to gain the extra advantage it takes to get a step ahead in the world of sports.
   The Elizabethton/Carter County Boys & Girls Club will be holding a special program this summer which consists of improving speed and agility skills to further enhance one's performance out on the playing field.
   "The Winning Edge" is a class featured to give kids a better chance to compete at the highest levels of competition and a way to sharpen their skills, strength and explosiveness on the path to high school and beyond.
   "I'm starting a conditioning program this summer which will be 7-12 year olds and 13 and up," said the program coordinator Adam Cranford. "We'll do 7-12 Mondays and Fridays, and then 13 and up Tuesday's and Thursday's."
   A former player of the East Tennessee State football team, Cranford recognizes what it takes to become the top athlete in today's society.
   "This is what the area has been needing for a long time to compete with the area's from Knoxville and around, because when we go on to the playoffs, then we get beat out a lot of times in the first round," said Cranford.
   Already a proven benefit with Cranford's career, many different skills will be taught, which include form runs, sprints, agility and vertical leaping.
   "I've done it for about six years now," Cranford said. "I played football at Mars Hill and transferred from there to ETSU, where I've been for the last four years majoring in sports psychology and athletic coaching. The kids I've been coaching love it. They're so easy to coach because it's stuff they don't quite know, but they catch on really fast."
   Some of the trainers involved will be guest athletes who want to provide this area will the best quality of players, so they can compete with the others in the downstate region.
   "We'll set up eight different stations, and at each one we'll work on the different aspects of it, with hopefully four kids per station," said Cranford. "I'll have special guest like my strength coach from ETSU, and hopefully my friends who went on to the pros like Brandon Calton, who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cecil Moore, who went to the Baltimore Ravens."
   Already, the ideal for the program has received community support, and it's like the old saying, "You're only as good as you're willing to become."
   "All the coaches in the area thinks it's a great ideal, because it's what the area has been needing for a long time, and I hope it takes off in it's first year," said Cranford.
   The same drills which are taught are the same that both professional and college players go through for a better understanding of useful techniques.
   "This is what the coaches don't have time to do because of teaching the plays or small techniques, but this is a great off-season deal, which is not just for one sport but all. Strength, conditioning and explosiveness and even baseball and basketball, it's all good for that."
   The program is different from your regular football or basketball camp, because it lasts through the summer instead of just a few days.
   "It cost $30 a month or $60 for the summer, which is good compared to a lot of football camps," said Cranford. "In football camps you'll usually spend $300 to run for three days. You're not going get in shape just running three days for football season."
   The first classes will be held on June 7-8, with the 7-12 year olds beginning on the seventh and 13-and-up on the eighth.
   Drills will be conducted during the evening hours of 6 to 7:30, so anyone interested needs to sign up as the list is filling up, with a maximum of 32 kids participating.
   "If they are going onto college or possibly the NFL, even this is the same kind of program they'll go through," said Cranford. "The first time out we'll test their 40, vertical and shuttle run, and then at the end we'll test it again to see how much they improved."