Tuesday, November 06, 2007
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More than child's play at the Edge Sports Performance Center

Teen athletes find their edge with training geared just for them.

Amanda Lawhorn, 17, a senior and a Northside basketball player, Brandi Smith, (middle in red) 17, a William Fleming senior basketball player and TiAsia McGeorge, 15, a sophomore William Fleming basketball player do squats with weight discs as they move across the artificial grass floor at the Edge Sports Performance Center in Roanoke.

Amanda Lawhorn, a senior at Northside High School, does squats with senior Brandi Smith (in red) and sophomore TiAsia McGeorge, both of William Fleming, at the Edge Sports Performance Center.

The Edge Sports Performance Center

  • What: Training programs range from basic strength and conditioning classes for ages 12 and under to training designed for the college-bound athlete.
  • Where: 3710 Tom Andrews Road, Roanoke
  • Cost: $15-$25 per session; monthly packages available
  • Call: 265-8585

Map

Map of the Edge Sports Performance Center

The Roanoke Times

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It was August, far too late for high school baseball and much too soon for basketball. But on a patch of artificial turf in the Edge Sports Performance Center, five athletes circled orange cones in a series of sprints and shuffles.

"I'm trying to win state this year," Andrew Nicely, 16, said of the preseason workout.

Then water break was over, and the wiry William Byrd High School wrestler was back to his drills. And last Wednesday, with wrestling season just weeks away, he was still training on the turf.

This is what the Edge, a Roanoke fitness club that opened in June, has set out to do: Make athletes better at their game. For some of the center's mostly teenaged members, that means gaining a competitive advantage. And for potential standouts such as Nicely, a boost toward a trophy.

Edge classes resemble a team practice: warm-ups, weights, running drills. The focus is on basic abilities, such as foot speed and core strength, and sport-specific skills. The coaching staff of three wear T-shirts that read: "MAXIMIZE YOUR POTENTIAL."

Talena Williams, who opened the center with her husband, Adam, says the Edge offers teens a structured workout that's missing at other gyms and costs less than a one-on-one session with a trainer.

"I've gotten quicker, faster, stronger," TiAsia McGeorge, 15, said after a workout last week. The William Fleming High School sophomore has visited the Edge four times a week since August, with her upcoming varsity basketball season in mind. But first, tryouts.

"I know I'm going to keep my spot," she said.

Housed in the former Ice Station off Thirlane Road, the 33,000-square-foot facility holds a sand pit and basketball court, racks of barbells and exercise machinery. Juice Do It, the center's cafe, is in the lobby.

Edge programs are broken up by age and ambition, from basic strength and conditioning classes for kids 9 to 12, to training designed for the college-bound athlete.

Routines are tailored to an athlete's abilities to address risks associated with overtraining, Talena Williams said. As a physician's assistant, she has seen preteens in the operating room with torn ligaments after too-rigorous exercise.

"We're pushing them to the limit, but not overdoing it," said Ryan Travers, an Edge performance coach. He monitors athletes' progress and gets their feedback to ensure a safe workout.

The arrival of the Edge -- and the recent announcement of a similar fitness center, Parisi Speed School, set to open in Roanoke in January -- may indicate that athletes are taking their training more seriously at a younger age.

"Times have changed," said Roy Jackson, another Edge performance coach, who played basketball for William Fleming in the early '90s. Then, he recalled, training meant basic court drills like the three-man weave.

"Kids nowadays are just so much more active and agile," he said. "People don't want to play sports, they want to dominate sports."

And count basketball player Domas Rinksalis among them. The 17-year-old, a Roanoke Catholic exchange student from Lithuania, threw the medicine ball on a recent afternoon.

"He's got skills. He's got good fundamentals. He's got a good work ethic," said Robbie Hebert, the Edge's head of sports performance. Nearby, the Lithuanian skipped along a track, a 20-pound vest strapped to his 6-foot-9 Baltic frame.

What was missing? He looked nothing short of a secret weapon.

"He's going to work on explosiveness."

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