Atascocita High School

FOOTBALL: Former Atascocita defender uses time back home during COVID-19 to train fellow athletes

FOOTBALL: Former Atascocita defender uses time back home during COVID-19 to train fellow athletes

Story by Gavin Moritz

Overcoming adversity is nothing new to Jorge Sanchez. When the now former Atascocita defensive lineman graduated in May of 2018, an opportunity to play college football for the Henderson State Reddies awaited him. 

Sanchez, who played multiple positions along the defensive line for Eagles Head Coach Craig Stump, immediately changed positions upon arriving in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Listed at 5’11 and 215 lbs coming out of high school, he was considered undersized and too small to play defensive line at the collegiate level, so he was moved to linebacker. “It was a pretty challenging transition,” said Sanchez. “I was an all-district defensive lineman, so it was mentally challenging to understand why I had to transition.” However, for Jorge, the transition wasn’t just mentally taxing. “Physically it was more challenging in that I had to drop 15 lbs of body mass to start. I had to become a lot faster, improve my ability, lateral movement and learn a whole new position.” Jorge also redshirted a season as he learned his new position, which he called “very challenging, yet humbling.” Sanchez went on to say that “to go from being ‘on top’ in high school to having to sit out a year is humbling and makes you appreciate where you’re at. I’m surrounded by a bunch of great athletes, so there’s more competition and a higher level of competition. At the same time, it further brought out the competitiveness in me and hunger to get better and separate myself as a player. The redshirt year was really a year to learn the game more, learn about myself, and see how I could improve.”

When he’s not on the field chasing ball carriers, Sanchez uses his time to train fellow athletes, something he says he’s wanted to do since he was a sophomore in high school. “After learning more and more I became infatuated with it, and started reading books on books and studying the greats in strength & conditioning. By the time I was a senior I had a strong foundation on the science, and dove into methodologies and the principles, along with biomechanics and so on. It was at that point I decided I wanted to open up my own facility one day, but one that wasn’t too expensive. I wanted to help athletes like me who maybe don’t have the resources to get advanced training, but who need it and who can use it to better them as athletes but also as people and mentally.” 

Since receiving his training certification in the summer of 2019, Jorge has gone from training just a handful of athletes to now 52 in total, including 30 from his alma mater of Atascocita. Sanchez not only trains football players in the area, but athletes from baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, powerlifting, boxing and track, as well. When asked about the variety of athletes that he trains, Sanchez said that “I train all sports. Every athlete needs  the same thing: to get stronger, move better, get faster, and be more explosive. 80% of what they do is the same, where 20% is ‘sport specific’ (For example, a baseball athlete would get a little bit more anti-rotation and rotational work, along with shoulder health and velocity work).”

Since the onset of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Jorge has added 35 total athletes to his client list. Of these 35 newcomers, Sanchez trains 25 of them in person in his home setup. These training sessions are made up of 9 groups, with a maximum number of 3 athletes per group, for safety reasons. For the other 10 of his new clients, they train online, where Jorge sets up a program for them to follow at home or in their own facility. As far as how the virus has changed his in-person training sessions, Sanchez told me that “The biggest thing is it limits how many I can train and it changes how I interact with the athletes”, and that he “can only get 3 max (athletes) in per session slot. It also changes how I have to ‘Coach’ them and train them, especially with young kids. You have to bring the energy every session, but you can’t do the normal high fives and chest bumps after a good lift. I almost have to control my emotions to not get over hyped when an athlete gets his technique or when an athlete jumps to a new personal record.” As far as online athletes, he says he’s “had to adjust with the equipment they have. One athlete I train can squat 600 pounds, but currently only has a barbell with 250 pounds, so we’ve had to adjust to a lot of tempo and velocity work along with pressing against immovable objects. It’s very challenging, but it’s also very fun to find ways to get the same adaptations from a towel that we can get from a heavy squat or deadlift.”

As far as future endeavors, Jorge says he hopes to help create a strength and conditioning program for Atascocita High School, as he’s already done with 4 other schools.

To any athletes that are looking for a trainer, Jorge says he would tell them that “Anybody can put you on a treadmill and say ‘run fast’, and anyone can make you tired and sore, but not everyone can help you develop and become stronger and faster over time, and not everyone looks at how you move and find ways to help you move more efficiently before you injure yourself. Training with me, you get everything, from joining a family, to learning, to personal focus on you as an athlete and individual.” Sanchez also added that “If you’re an athlete looking to become stronger, faster, and stay on the field, then the results of who I’ve trained so far speak. Every athlete I train has improved their strength, speed, and power. Training with me, you work hard because there’s no substitute , but you also train smart. When hard work meets science, the potential to improve is endless.”

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