When Willie Parker opened up the first edition of the Fast Willie Speed School on June 15 at Dark Horse Stadium, he had enrolled 32 athletes with hopes for a few more. The school ended up hosting over 40 athletes and from the looks of the kids at the school ending celebration on Wednesday afternoon at Royal Lane Park, the school was a big success.
Former NFL and Clinton High School players Willie Parker and Jerris McPhail partnered to form the Fast Willie Parker Speed School and figured that Clinton would be a good place to get the school off the ground and running. The two former pros, along with the help of several other former players and area high school coaches put the students through grueling twice a week workouts to help improve their speed, agility, stamina and explosiveness.
“We challenged these kids each and every session, it was like nothing they have ever done physically and I have seen improvement in every participant. They all learned skills that they can take back to the field or court this coming season.” said Parker.
The student-athletes were eager to sing the praises of their experience at the school.
“I feel faster,” Clinton’s Rayquan Faison said. “I know my 40 times have improved but the biggest thing has been the improvement in my explosiveness. We did a lot of hip work and that will help me be more explosive and make better cuts.”
Ryheem Skinner, also a Dark Horse, added, “I feel like the work we have done out here will show up on the field this fall, it was hard work, much more intense than anything we do in football practice, I just want to carry it forward into the season.”
A trio of Lakewood footballers chimed in, includingDillion Kinlock, who said, “I improved my ability to cut on a dime and I know I got faster as I improved my 40 time.”
Luke Brewer agreed, saying “my biggest improvement was in footwork, especially the ability to change direction quickly on the move and I got faster too.”
“I think we all improved our speed and agility,” Logan Brewer added, “but the mental part of it may be the biggest thing. If you can get through these drills you feel like there is nothing you can’t do, it gives you a lot of confidence.”
The common theme that seemed to resonate with all the athletes was that they feel that their performance on the field or court will benefit from attending the speed school.
Parker and McPhail along with several other volunteers treated the speed school participants to a fun day at the Royal Lane pool on Wednesday. The kids swam and competed in touch football games before they settled in for a late afternoon meal and awards.
McPhail and Parker both spoke to the participants before the awards ceremony, expressing their thanks for the kids attendance and effort. McPhail encouraged the athletes.
“You have to give effort all the time in everything you do, you must learn to appreciate everything but expect nothing,” he said.
Parker continued by extolling the importance of hitting the books, adding “you have to get the books in order, you don’t want to be the fastest guy on the streets, you want to get your education and go as far in life as you can.”
The celebration wrapped up with Parker presenting awards to the players that exhibited the highest levels of effort during the entire school.
“We wanted to reward the guys who gave extraordinary effort and also for attendance,” Parker noted.
The recipients of effort awards were: Ethan Blackwell, Austin Fussell, Prentice Murphy, Dillion Kinlock, Logan Brewer, Isiah Page, Niyabenghi Lamb, Rayquan Faison, Luke Brewer, Ryheem Skinner and Tyion Wright. Instead of plaques or a trophy, the effort award winners received Beats headphones and iPad Minis and all were surprised and pleased with their new hardware.
While the inaugural speed school may be a wrap, Parker and McPhail are not done helping mold young athletes in the area. The pair conducted a one day speed school session at Harrells Christian Academy on July 30, then returned to Clinton on Friday for a session for younger children to be held at Royal Lane Park.
Parker encourages kids from 7 years old and up to show up for the event.
“We want to get kids involved at an earlier age. It seems that some of the recreation department sports have suffered a little in recent years and we hope this event may spur some interest in the younger kids, just get them out and active at an early age,” continued Parker.
The youth event will be held every Monday and Friday from now until school starts back, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Royal Lane Park. Each of these camps will run until 11 a.m., and be held at baseball field number one.
Only time will tell if the time the young athletes spent being challenged by new workouts will payoff on the fields and courts. It is however, already evident that the students took advantage of a great opportunity to improve their bodies, athletic performance and mental toughness during the demanding workouts over the past six weeks.