An NFL-style youth football combine this weekend is just a sample of what David Luera and Jim Carr hope to accomplish this year.
The two founders of Elite Training Academy already have about 125 youth football players signed up for their event Saturday, Jan. 25, and Sunday, Jan. 26, at West High’s Steve Lopez Stadium.
Their goal for the weekend is to find out which local athletes do best on NFL combine-style tests, including the 40-yard dash, broad jump, three-cone drill, vertical leap and 20-yard shuttle, plus mental and hand-eye coordination tests.
At the end, the organizers will invite the top 10 performers from each age group — from youth football junior novice players to high school athletes — to a follow-up combine Feb. 8 and 9 at West High.
“They’re going to go at it again and see who is the number 1 or number 2 kids in this town,” Luera said. “There are a lot of kids who think they’re the top dog, but when you bring kids from other areas, you really see where you’re at.”
Luera and Carr expected all of the participants would become interested in their long-term training program at Elite Training Academy, which will continue to have sessions at West High every weekend from Feb. 15 to June 29, and which will soon have a permanent home on Mars Court.
Carr said the combine-style tests and the latest technology in measuring strength and speed would give kids a baseline of their physical fitness. Those who stick with ETA can compare their initial scores with scores at the end of the summer before beginning their youth or high school football seasons.
“I sure hope we see improvements across the board,” Carr said.
The program is modeled on The Football University, a sports training enterprise Luera founded in 2010, when he was a coach for the Tracy Cougars youth football teams.
Luera’s goal at the time was to see young players develop a desire to reach for the higher levels of football.
“From there, I started forming bonds with parents, because they liked the way I coached kids,” Luera said.
TFBU had its beginnings with his own nephew, Michael Luera, a 2008 graduate of Tracy High and a linebacker for the Bulldogs football team. It continued with Depray Celestine, a member of the Tracy High Class of 2010 and the San Joaquin Athletic Association’s most valuable player and scoring leader that year.
“I tried to take them as far as their ability could take them, and that’s all that matters to me,” Luera said, noting that both played college football.
Luera spoke of another nephew, Gaige Allen, a Kimball High senior and the Valley Oak League’s second-leading rusher for the 2013 season, as a player he has been proud to train.
“Gaige is one of those athletes that has all of the attributes it takes to make yourself into a great athlete that can play at the next level,” Luera said.
Carr, a software company manager and former high school quarterback, was among the parents impressed with TFBU. He enrolled his son Devon, now 9, in TFBU four years ago and was impressed with the way Luera coached kids.
“His program isn’t about trying to trying to turn everyone into a professional. It’s trying to figure out if a kid has a passion for the sport,” Carr said. “Let’s cultivate that, and let’s figure out a way make the kids the best he can possibly be.”
A year ago, the two men teamed up to make Luera’s training program a business. They are working with the city of Tracy building department to convert a warehouse on Mars Court into a 13,180-square-foot training facility, including an indoor track, a weight room and classrooms to emphasize the strong academic base athletes need in high school and as they move to the college level.
An outdoor facility on a neighboring lot would have a practice field and a military-style obstacle course.
The target date for opening the gym is June, when Carr and Luera hope to make the transition from weekend sessions at West High to regular sessions in their new facility.
“In a perfect world, the gym opens up as soon as the football program ends, and the kids can go right into the program,” Luera said.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Elite Training Academy combine
WHEN: Registration at 9 a.m., starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, and Sunday, Jan. 26
WHERE: Steve Lopez Stadium, West High School, 1775 W. Lowell Ave.
TICKETS: $20 for one day, $40 for both days, with a 50 percent discount for Tracy, West, Kimball and Millennium high school athletes