Players supplement coaches with trainers

Resigning from his defensive coaching position at Harvard-Westlake two years ago, Junior Thurman figured he could make a better living privately coaching individual players. Thurman, who specializes in coaching defensive players, runs a football skills clinic on Saturday mornings during the off-season. He also works with many Wolverine defensive players and is a regular presence on the upper school campus.

“When I coached at Harvard-Westlake two years ago, I would have 15 or 20 minutes to work with 18 defensive backs,” Thurman said. “Each player would get one repetition, and then we would have to move on to the next drill. I figured that players would be eager to work with me so that they could bring their perfected skills to practice. It would give them a leg up.”

Four times a week, Kimo Thorpe ’09, Spencer Spiegel ’07, Terry O’Neal ’07 and Terhon O’Neal ’09 work with Thurman, receiving the individual attention that they would not necessarily receive in practice. “When they work with me, it’s on a more personal level,” Thurman said. “If players are struggling with a concept or a technique, I can show them over and over again until they get it right. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

During the winter sports season, the boys mostly work on sprinting and conditioning. During the spring they split time between conditioning and football skills. “Sometimes we work on skills and technique, and other times we work on strength and conditioning,” Thurman said.

“It’s a chance for them to get assistance on the personal level and the skills they need to emerge from the rest of the pack.” Spiegel’s goal is to walk on to the football team at the University of Southern California, and he will take advantage of any opportunity to improve his abilities.

“Working with Junior, we get more repetitions,” said Spiegel, who played linebacker last season.

“The fact that it’s a one-on-one practice really helps because I can work on the stuff that I have trouble with.”

Thorpe hopes that his extra training will help him earn more playing time come next fall and says that the private lessons have given him a stronger work ethic.

“It’s definitely more personalized than practice, there are less people when I’m working with Junior, and he really makes us work hard,” he said. “He definitely brings out the best in us.”

A player using a personal trainer to get extra help is nothing new for high school athletes, but Wolverine football players using these private coaches is a growing trend.

“A bunch of our guys work with trainers on the side and they can work on the things we don’t necessarily work on in practice,” head football coach Vic Eumont said.

“Trainers teach players fundamentals and skills that they could bring to the field and impress the coaches during practice.”

Thurman is not the only trainer used by Wolverine football players. Eumont said that quarterback Sean Berman ’09 is working with quarterback coach Steve Clarkson during the off-season. Clarkson has worked with high-profile quarterbacks Donovan Mcnabb, Ben Roethlisberger and Jimmy Clausen.

Clarkson is frequently seen on Slavin field working with high school and college quarterbacks, and runs the prestigious Air 7 program, a camp for quarterbacks across the country.

Along with giving private lessons, Thurman also puts on a football skills clinic six Saturdays during the off-season. Among the 52 football players who participate in the clinic, eight are on the Wolverine football team.

“It gives some of our younger players a chance to learn technique that they can use when preseason starts over the summer,” Eumont said.