Prep athletes taking advantage of hidden gem in 4S Ranch
By Michael Bower
Tucked away within the business district of 4S Ranch is a 14,000-square foot building that will bring pure joy — and eventually sweat — to the face of any high school athlete who walks through its doors.
Once inside, a simple turn to the right is all it takes to see this paradise. The first thing you will notice is a monster-truck-sized tire waiting to be flipped, pushed or pounded with a sledge hammer.
Then there is the some 25 yards of football turf, volleyball courts, weights, a sled, bungee bands, medicine balls and just about anything an athlete’s heart can desire.
They call it Velocity Sports Performance and there are several locations across the country. Once inside the one here in 4S Ranch, the surrounding environment makes it hard to not want to workout.
“I go there and I want to be there because everyone is nice and the workouts are always different,” explained Poway High girls lacrosse player Vickie Porter, a San Diego State University commit. “It is a nice change of pace.”
Porter is just one of several local athletes that use the facility. Her teammate, Asia Pitzer, also goes, as does Rancho Bernardo baseball players Gosuke Katoh, Drew Davis and Alex Jackson. In fact, the uniqueness of Velocity draws athletes from all over San Diego County.
“There is different equipment here than you will see at another gym,” said the site’s performance director Tom Cox, who has been the strength and conditioning coach for the Oakland Athletics and the University of San Diego. He specializes in developing training programs for amateur, collegiate and professional athletes to enhance athletic performance. “It really mimics what kids are going to see at a Division I and Division II level of college.”
The trainers themselves also mirror what athletes would see at the college level. They all have some sort of athletic background or expertise in a certain sport, and all have a certification that requires a college degree and knowledge of biomechanics.
“Anybody can train an athlete, but to have a niche and knowledge of what they do on the field is important,” Cox said. “I was a baseball player so I can relate what is in their heads and know what they have to be able to do.”
The knowledge of the trainers is only part of the reason Velocity has been such a growing attraction to high school athletes. The other part is the personalities of the trainers.
“All the trainers are young and we talk to them like they are our friends and not our coach,” said the UCLA-bound Katoh. “We still respect them, but that is part of the environment there that is different from other training places. It makes it fun.”
But it most definitely is not all fun and games. Velocity is designed to help get prep athletes stronger, faster and prepared for the college level through specially designed programs that fits their needs.
Like many high school athletes are doing nowadays, Porter signed up in hopes to prepare for the upcoming lacrosse season and for the workouts she will be doing when at SDSU.
“I have a lot more endurance now,” Porter said. “I put on a couple of muscle pounds, which is good because at SDSU we will have to workout three times a week. I am preparing myself for what is going to be expected of me at SDSU.”
Katoh has been training at Velocity since the summer before his eighth-grade year. He entered his freshman year standing 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighing 130 pounds. Now, as a senior, he is 6-2, 170. He runs the 60-yard dash in a blazing 6.4 seconds.
“I went in at first to just get my quickness up,” said Katoh, whose home runs jumped from three as a sophomore to 11 as a junior. “Then I met Tom, and I knew I had to go with him because he is baseball specific. I got stronger, faster and more explosion. It is exciting to see myself getting better.”
And see others getting better.
“It is nice to talk to the other athletes and see what they go through to get good,” Katoh said. “Like Vickie. You might think she is naturally just born a great lacrosse player, but she works really hard. It is inspiring.”
For more information or for a free trial at Velocity Sports Performance in 4S Ranch, call 858-592-7766 or visit www.velocitysp.com/sandiego
- List of local athletes preparing for National Signing Day on Nov. 14
- Prep baseball: Classic gives Rancho Bernardo High’s Katoh new outlook on life
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