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Local Track and Field Sees Growth

Phenom program has been a success story in Santa Clarita.

Posted: February 19, 2008 1:56 a.m.
Updated: April 21, 2008 5:01 a.m.

David Joseph, left, the founder of Phenom Athletics, walks in front of his athletes as they do jump rope training at Valencia High School.

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It started as a track and field training program for his kids in 2002, but six years later, Phenom Athletics president and founder David Joseph is providing training for nearly 90 Santa Clarita Valley youth athletes.

The Tulane University graduate, who also coaches for the program, has seen the growth since the 15 to 20 athletes he trained from 2003 to 2005.

On Thursday, he will even have two-time Olympic gold medal sprinter Maurice Greene speaking to his athletes at Valencia High.

Not short on athletic experience of his own, Joseph attended Tulane from 1982 to 1986, when he ran track and field and played football while earning a Bachelor of Science in Organic Chemistry. Joseph first became interested in coaching after his experience with 24 Karat Track Club, another track and field organization.

Despite having 58 participants in last year's club, not including non-track athletes, Joseph is praised for his coaching ability when dealing with the kids ages 7 to 17.

"Most of the parents are overwhelmed by his attention to each individual athlete," said team coordinator Stacey Morris.

Joseph is a Level 2-certified coach for speed and agility with USA Track and Field and the Amateur Athletic Union.

Phenom Athletics has seven assistant coaches, which Joseph requires to undergo developmental USA track and field training.

Despite the emphasis on track, Phenom Athletics is not strictly for track and field participants. Phenom Athletics credits itself on providing training for athletes from Saugus, Hart, Valencia and Golden Valley high schools.

"We teach them how to be the best that they can be at whatever they do," Joseph said.

Many of these participating athletes from other sports don't participate in track and field competitions for Phenom Athletics but use the training they receive for their own sports.

"Now they only have to understand the mechanics of their particular sport and go explode in it," Joseph said.

Phenom Athletics track and field participants compete in USA Track and Field and Amateur Athletic Union certified meet competitions. Meet competitions include race walks, 100 to 3,000 meter runs, hurdles and field events in discus, shotput, high jump, long jump and turbo javaline, a safer version of the olympic event.

According to Joseph, 27 of the 58 members qualified for the Junior Olympics.

Physical ability is not a primary assessment when accepting members.

"The concept is to take not just elite athletes, but to take individuals and develop them," Morris said.

Each member is given an athletic assessment. They run them through specific drills and obstacle courses to get a full understanding of what they do and their particular needs. Joseph uses this to give him a breakdown of each athlete.

"What we do, we build athletes," Joseph said.

Phenom Athletics looks to build in five specific areas, including run, jump, balance, reactionary speed and agility.

Joseph credits these as the basis for any sport.

Phenom Athletics provides a one-week trial run in which the kids participate in the program and parents can come out and watch.

Training for new athletes begins in January and runs until the end of the season in July, while returners begin in the middle of November.

Phenom Athletics is looking to extend its focus outside of the track as it currently is in the process of building a tutoring program for its athletes. Joseph hopes to have that up and running in approximately three months. Tutoring will be in the fields of science, math and English.

Phenom Athletics is currently holding practices three days a week until the end of February. In March, it will hold practices four days a week, in which members must attend at least two required practices.

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