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Post-career moves

Many athletes have found a way to utilize their talents when their playing days end

Posted: May 31, 2009 10:02 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Canyon graduate and University of Southern California soccer player Nini Loucks stands at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday, where she will hold a soccer training program over the summer.

 
A million things go through an athlete's mind when his or her playing career faces mortality.

Do I keep trying to play? Do I give it up? What's next?

The answer for many has come by way of training programs and youth camps.

Take Canyon graduate and University of Southern California soccer player Nini Loucks for example.

As a senior with the Trojans, Loucks scored five goals and an assist in 23 appearances.

Now out of eligibility and in the midst of her masters program, the former Cowboy started a summer youth training camp.

"I want to teach them good soccer skills," she said. "I want to teach them, moreover, to get their confidence up. Given my experience, (I want to) give my thoughts on how I got to college and how far I got myself, not just on the soccer field but also in the classroom."

Loucks hopes the venture will help earn extra money for tuition and expenses and be a way to utilize her occupational therapy education should she encounter athletes with unique needs.

While Loucks' program may prove to be temporary, Samantha Ford-Dusenberry has turned training into a career.

Ford-Dusenberry, arguably the Santa Clarita Valley's best softball pitcher in history, has been working with young athletes for 25 years.

"When I got out of college it was primarily for money," said the Hart graduate and two-time national champion at UCLA. "Now I do it because I feel like I need to give something back to the softball community.

"When I was playing, the community was very generous financially - a lot of sponsorships. I traveled all over the world. It was a really good experience. I just felt like other girls needed to have the same opportunity."

Ford-Dusenberry used to personally work with around 80 students per week and has now cut it down to between 12 and 20 weekly, she said.

However, six years ago she founded Synergy Sports and Tutoring, a training center that "offers individual and group instruction and supports travel teams in fastpitch softball, baseball and basketball," according to Synergy's official Web site.

Working alongside Ford-Dusenberry is Saugus graduate Jamie Gillies.

They aren't the only locals to embark upon such ventures.

Canyon graduate and The Master's College standout Jeremy Haggerty also holds camps, as does Dean Herrington, the former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Hart, Occidental College and College of the Canyons and current head football coach at Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills.

Meanwhile, another local football legend is quietly making his impression on athletes, relying on word of mouth to promote The Combine Sports Performance Training, conducted at Valencia High.

"When I came back to coach at College of the Canyons, it wasn't a full-time position coaching," said Ted Iacenda, a Hart graduate and running back at USC and the University of New Mexico. "I was working at a gym for youth athletes. I had a bunch of clients ask me about private lessons and I had the field at COC at my disposal, so I started doing one-on-one lessons. That was nine years ago."

For the last four years, he was been a principal partner for The Combine.

Starting with morning sessions, athletes work on their strength, speed and agility. By the afternoon, the workouts lend themselves to football practices and position-specific drills.

Among those who have worked with Iacenda and The Combine are Saugus' Desi Rodriguez and Ryan Zirbel, Hart graduates Delano Howell, Patrick Larimore and B.R. Holbrook and Canyon graduate J.J. DiLuigi.

"I think what it comes down to is what are you giving to your customers?" Iacenda said. "Are you selling them you and your knowledge and your good intentions, or are you just selling them a face and a name and a, ‘Oh we trained a big No. 1 draft pick.' That is the difference. What is your background? What have you done? How do you deal with kids?"

For more information on Nini Loucks' training program, call (661) 478-2282. For more information about Synergy Sports, check out www.synergysat.com, and to find out more about The Combine, e-mail combinetraining@hotmail.com.


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