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Columbia County trainer finds permanent home

Posted: July 9, 2014 - 12:10am
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Michael Johnson checks his stopwatch during a recent track workout.  Photo by Scott Rouch
Photo by Scott Rouch
Michael Johnson checks his stopwatch during a recent track workout.

After working out of the Grovetown High School weight room and track the past three years, Michael Johnson has found a permanent home.

The owner of Pro-gressive Athletic Perfor-mance and founder of the AAU Velocity Striders – now the Velocity Track Academy – Johnson plans to have his facility up and running by the middle of July.

“People think I’m just track, they don’t understand my whole background,” said Johnson, whose facility off Wylds Road behind the Augusta Mall will feature indoor turf, half-court basketball and strength training. “Track is what I did. My business is training athletes.”

As well as working with individuals, he also has begun working with the Grovetown volleyball team this summer.

“It’s offseason so we’re just training, working on movement, lifting, getting them stronger,” Johnson said.

Lady Warriors’ head coach Amy Slagle thinks the training is progressing well and will have a positive effect on conditioning when they do preseason testing.

“I will say that I have seen them progress in speed and coordination as a whole doing some of his drills,” Slagle said. “Michael (Johnson) seems very knowledgeable and I think he genuinely wants to see everyone get better, faster and stronger in whatever sport they play.”

The Velocity Striders were successful on a number of levels, including helping athletes such as three-time state sprint champion Darius Watkins get college scholarships and win state track championships.

Working with Johnson has been beneficial for both programs, said Grovetown track coach Rodney Tyson.

“Anytime an athlete or their parents came to me and expressed an interest in running track collegiately, I immediately referred them to Mike for additional training, because he is great at fine-tuning the mechanics of any runner,” said Tyson. “I think that is a true testament to the level of respect I have for what he does with our kids.”

The Velocity Academy has three levels: the Velocity High Performers is the high-performance team, the Velocity Striders are a lower level high school team and the Velocity Future Stars deal with the younger athletes.

Johnson wanted the different levels to ensure all were getting the appropriate training.

“I separate the times because I just don’t want 30-40 kids out there, missing something,” Johnson said. “It requires more work from me, but I enjoy doing it.

I think everybody benefits from it that way. You might have a kid who doesn’t know how to come out of the blocks and he’s just getting lost in the shuffle. I decided to just eliminate that.”

In the summer he gets help from his former athletes, such as former Greenbrier runners Kayla Tyson (University of Louisville) and Jeremy Harden (University of Louisiana-Monroe), Evans’ Myles McDavid (Georgia Tech) and Grovetown basketball player Ebony Wells (LaSalle University).

It works out well for both Johnson and the athletes.

“It’s been good to be able to hire these kids coming home and giving them summer jobs,” said Johnson.

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