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PROVO — Is it possible to make super men and women?
No, we're not talking about the cape-wearing comic-book types or those who juice up on steroids. But can we take athletes and transform them beyond their stereotyped genetic limitations? Can we take elite players in sports and boost their measurables (strength and speed)?
Of course. Happens all the time in gyms and with trainers from California to Finland. In Utah, gyms and trainers hang out shingles all the time. It's a science. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Take Dave Stroshine, for instance. He's a former Mountain View High and Weber State athlete who experienced a firsthand body transformation. Now he has dedicated his life to taking the ordinary and making it special.
Stroshine is passionate about getting young people to envision and reach their dreams. More than 200 of his pupils have earned college scholarships, and he's worked with NFL and NBA talent from Utah's former Mr. Basketball, Tyler Haws, to Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. He has been published in Stack Magazine.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to talk to kids and convince them they can do things they don't believe they can do, then see it happen," said Stroshine.
When he was 14, Stroshine came home in tears after failing to make an all-star baseball team, "I was devastated and remember my dad consoling me by telling me by the time I was 16 I would pass all those kids."
"I don't know if that came true by 16, but I was the only athlete from that team to play professionally. My father saw my potential, and my strength coach saw it later in college."
Producing that vision is the first stage of making a change.
When Stroshine enrolled at Weber State in the mid-'90s at 185 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. With the help of conditioning coach Mike Jenkins, he started lifting weights, running hills, doing sprint work. Five years later at his pro day, he was 238 pounds, ran a 4.53 and signed as a free agent for the Tennessee Titans in 1999.
An injury ended his NFL career in 2000, and he started coaching at Weber State before moving to Ohio to work for Speed Strength Systems under Eric Lichtner and Tim Robertson. There he worked with James, Nate Clements, London Fletcher, Ted Ginn Jr., and Troy Smith.
While many training philosophies center around bench, squat and clean weight room maximums and just running miles to condition, Stroshine's philosophy is centered around movement.
"It's about enhancing movement and making movement more efficient. To some, at first, it sounds a little odd," said Stroshine, "because many think training is pushing weights around and there's a genetic ceiling to running fast, that fast people are fast people, that people just run in a straight line to try and get faster."
"What I try to do is with the movement part of it," he continued. "I put together drills and movements that enhance their movement on the field of play. To maximize an athlete's physical abilities, a program needs to be comprehensive and address strength, linear or straight-ahead speed, agility, flexibility, balance, prehab or injury reduction exercises, and nutrition."
He used the knowledge base to open The Academy for Maximum Performance in Utah in 2006, then in 2009 he created ASAP Sports, located in the Pinnacle Security building on Sand Hill Road in Orem, where he's contracted as the conditioning coach for most Utah Valley University sports.
Some folks who've sought his help?
Michelle Harrison: 6-foot-1 local Stanford-bound women's basketball player who could touch the rim but wanted to dunk before she got to Palo Alto. In months with Stroshine, she did dunk and a photo of her is framed in the weight room at the Orem facility.
Anthony Heimuli: A former Mountain View High running back who wondered if he could attract college recruiters. After a year with Stroshine he secured a scholarship from the school of his dreams (BYU) and enrolled last year, pound for pound, one of the strongest freshmen of 2009.
Tim Toone: A Weber State receiver, the 2010 NFL draft's "Mr. Irrelevant," whose agent brought him to Stroshine hoping to get the 5-10, 185-pound wideout to run the 40 in 4.5 seconds. Not invited to the NFL Combine or any all-star college bowls, within weeks of working at ASAP, Toone clocked 4.42 and 4.43 in the 40 at Weber State's pro day, which drew 32 NFL teams. Detroit made Toone the 225th pick.
Fahu Tahi: An undrafted free agent from BYU. After three years working with Stroshine, he started with an undefined future as a pro and went on to become the lead blocker for Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and received several votes this past year to the NFL Pro Bowl.
Tahi got both Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga to train for NFL careers with Stroshine, and that led to Toone this winter.
"My training with Dave was the best thing I could've done for my professional career," said Tahi.
"He's helped me keep my body strong and healthy. Before meeting Dave I still had some problems with old injuries from football. I really didn't know if they were ever going to go away, but with Dave's techniques and workouts, he's helped me strengthen those muscles and joints to give me the mobility that I need to get me feeling as good as I ever have."
Stroshine doesn't consider Toone irrelevant.
"I had Toone for eight weeks. Manase (Oakland Raiders) I had only four weeks and he came in injured. I got him to run a 4.8 40 electronic time.
He ran a 4.65 hand time. People don't like hearing their electronic time," said Stroshine, with a smile.
Bodies, motion, sweat and the increase of speed. It's an art form, yet a science, and it's one Stroshine believes in with all his heart. He still winces at the pain he felt as a 14-year old when he failed to impress.
"My goal is to build a facility that will train world-class athletes, but more importantly, show each young athlete what the right blueprint and effort can achieve. I am blessed to do something I love every day. Life is good."