‘Having an impact on these kids’ lives is everything’: How Metro East’s Elite Speed is building a path to success for local athletes
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Along the street of Horseshoe Lake Rd, you will find a small building that looks abandoned in Granite City. Inside is not much, but it is a place athletes from both sides of the river can call home. It is a facility for baseball players and boxers, but it is also home to Elite Speed.
Elite Speed is an athletic training program that focuses on, of course, perfecting your speed.
When Cameron James started Elite Speed in 2018, he did it to give young athletes a chance to improve their athletic skills and find more opportunities in sports.
“The biggest thing that made me want to start Elite Speed is when I was growing up, there was nothing around to really improve my athletic development or to improve my speed,” James said.
James was a two-sport athlete, playing football and running track for Edwardsville High School from 2008 to 2012. He was also a four-time All-Great Lakes Valley Conference receiver and an All-American track star for McKendree University.
“Nobody knows who you are, you’re making that transition from college student, college athlete, now to profession,” James said. “You got to really start somewhere people really have to believe in you.”
Along with training kids to improve their speed, James started an event called Skills Saturdays for football players during the offseason in 2020 at O’Fallon Sports Park. He also brought along some help to make the program prosper.
“Me and my team, Sherran Boyd, Pierre Tucker, Dez Chappelle, and Poe all wanted to come up with something that kids could come out to a park and they can play,” James said. “We all know kids can go to a gym and do AAU basketball, not too many times you can go out to the park and see kids going out there and do football stuff.”
Elite Speed thrived and attracted numerous high school athletes in the area. It even contributed to the success of local athletes like Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Craig James, Canadian football player Dan Williams III, and freshman Missouri football player Luther Burden III.
“Just seeing these guys succeed, seeing what we teach going off and actually being able to do it in their perspective schools or colleges, just seeing them have success based off what they’re being taught, that’s just love for me,” Elite Speed trainer Terrance Poe said.
Poe contributed a lot to Elite Speed, including on the Skill Saturdays with his Trenches Reloaded program. Every day he pours his heart out to the kids on and off the field.
“For us, it’s always bigger than football,” Poe said. “We teach a lot about being able to communicate properly, whether that be ‘I’m not coming or coming,’ communicating properly helping these guys with their college choice process, their recruiting process, whatever they be going through at home, sitting down having conversations about life, about decision making, about peer pressure, we talk about all those things all the time.”
During the fall of 2020, James moved Elite Speed to the new facility on Horseshoe Lake Rd. From there, the program took off and became a village changing kids’ lives on and off the field.
“It’s more than football to them,” Edwardsville High School athlete Dalton Brown said. “I’ve gotten quicker and faster all because of them.”
James holds different classes throughout the week, from speed classes for athletes to training for football players. He even established a 7-on-7 travel team in February 2022 for high school football players to compete with other teams across the country.
“I think having an impact on these kids’ lives is everything,” James said. “I don’t do this for myself, knowing that I can change a kid’s life and just knowing that he feels confident that he ran faster than he did the last time he was in here, knowing that he felt the difference on the field before coming here. That’s just a good feeling seeing these kids happy.”
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