Okay so it's day one, I arrive at IMG Performance Institute at 8 AM Monday morning and after taking care of some paperwork headed out to the turf fields.
At IMG Academies there are tons of incredibly talented athletes, including a selective group of future high draft picks training exclusively to be the best athlete they can be.
Sure I could rattle off names of guys training there, like Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, and Ryan Tannehill that most would recognize -- but the names at IMG Academies are much less important than the bond and crazy hard working atmosphere that they have created.
I began the day by observing the athletes "Movement" class, where they worked on anything and everything they could do to prep for the testing at the combine. Which at the time of my visit was a little over a week away.
Led by IMG Director of Movement Loren Seagrave (also a renown track and field coach) it was all about precision.
So, I'll take a second to tell you a bit more about me -- I was a division one athlete in cross country, swimming and track. And with another moment of honesty, I'll tell you track is where my heart is, and so I was a little star-struck when meeting Coach Seagrave.
But back to training for the combine.
That extra .1 seconds off a forty time, or cone drill could equal thousands of dollars --literally. With Coach Seagrave looking on, the athletes worked on footwork, cutting, and starts with expert precision.
As the day continued I began to get into a rhythm, a combine inspired rhythm.
Moving on, the athletes took some time to work on position drills out at the IMG Madden Academy fields -- before heading in to work on their communications skills.
Why? Well became apparent at the IMG Performance Institute during Day One that training for the NFL combine is much more than just on the field.
Step one? Steve Shenbaum's Communication "Game On" class.
Monday afternoon the lineman were slated to have their seventh and final "Game On" session, so I decided to jump in.
Boy, I was nervous. and we're not talking just a little, I'm talking full-blown I'm about to step on the line for the finals of an 800 in the conference meet nervous.
I walked into the room, all 5-foot-6, 135 pounds of me to face seven 300ish pound lineman.
We entered as strangers, but left as family. After several improv exercises such as "Red Light, Green Light" and "Mr. Personality" (in my case "Miss. Personality") I was getting out of my comfort zone, and working as a team with guys that five minutes ago were complete strangers.
The focus of the session was to sum up the courses, and feel confident entering the room where an NFL GM or coach is sitting -- and that means talking about yourself.
Well, I'm not used to talking about myself, I'm used to asking the questions -- and the former was VERY hard for me. I'm talking near mental breakdown as I walked to the hot seat for my questions.
Your only as strong as your greatest weakness, that's how the old saying goes? Well I would like to propose another theme to permeate day one at IMG Academies -- vulnerability is your greatest weakness, but also your greatest strength.
I was vulnerable plenty of times during my first day at the IMG Performance Institute, and you know what?
In the words of singer Kelly Clarkson, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller... What doesn't kill you makes a fighter..."
And who can't stand to be a little taller right?
I did, after conquering my fears -- namely getting way out of my comfort zone in "Game On" class. And I did after day one of IMG.
Im beginning to see the reason why the slogan at IMG is to make "The Total Athlete."
Even after just one day, I felt more rounded. And I had reached into areas mentally that needed some encouraging.
Bring on Day Two!