Prep athletes and some pros as well are refining their skills at a Woodbury training center.
In a nondescript building off a frontage round near the Woodbury-Oakdale border, some of Minnesota’s best athletes are taking their game to the next level.
Inside they work out under the auspices of Englebert Training Systems, which Ryan Englebert and his wife, Heidi, opened in 2010. Ryan Englebert overcame a life-threatening car accident to become a standout Division III football player for the University of Wisconsin-Stout and earned an NFL tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now, a growing number of local high school athletes are utilizing Woodbury-based ETS and Englebert’s expertise to catch the attention of Division I college programs.
“I’m driven by helping people, that’s the way I was raised,” said Englebert, who holds a sports science degree from UW-Stout. “When you can help kids accomplish their dreams, their goals — and know you’ve played some role in that — it is the most rewarding thing in the world.”
ETS works with athletes from every sport from age 9 through the professional ranks. Englebert said ETS maintains a 4-to-1 athlete-to-instructor ratio and gives all athletes an individualized program tailored to their specific needs.
“We address each athlete as an individual and build a plan specifically for them based on what sport they play, their position and their areas of weakness and deficiency,” Englebert said.
The gym’s list of regulars is impressive. Englebert said he’s worked with Thomas Vanek, who recently signed with the Wild, Viking players Jasper Brinkley, Cordarelle Patterson and Adam Thielen, and Olympian Kellie Wells.
However, most of those working out at ETS still are striving to take their skills to the pro and college level.
For high school football players looking for recognition from colleges, national recruiting summer combines such as Rivals and Nike, along with each school’s own camps, are critical.
A phase of the training at ETS is geared toward maximizing the physical tests given to players at the combines.
“When it comes time to do specific testing — 40-yard dash, vertical jump, pro agility, stuff like that — there’s a completely different style of training we focus on,” Englebert said. “They’re still doing their year-round, individualized stuff, but there’s different technique work we’ve mastered that we implement four to six weeks ahead of time.”
East Ridge High School quarterback Seth Green has worked out at ETS since the eighth grade. Entering his junior year, Green has full-ride offers from six Division 1 schools: Minnesota, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.
At Michigan State’s recent camp the 6-4 Green recorded a 39½-inch vertical leap, a 4.67 40-yard dash and a 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump. Those numbers rival some of the best by college quarterbacks at this past year’s NFL combine.
“Pretty much all of why I’m able to do what I do is because I work out here,” Green said. “Obviously the football field and practice itself is really important. But, I’ve gotten bigger, stronger and faster so those plays are easier to make. Working out here helps you improve leaps and bounds.”
Offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer, who graduated from East Ridge this year, is headed to Alabama on a football scholarship. He said ETS played a major role in his success.
Englebert also worked with Woodbury graduate Torsten Rotto, who plays for Stanford; East Ridge’s George Behr, who will play for Rutgers; Hill-Murray hockey player Josh French, who’ll go to Minnesota State Mankato, and East Ridge’s Emily Heslin, who will play soccer at Minnesota. ETS also trains the entire Maple Grove football team, which is 19-2 the past two seasons.
ETS’s motto is “Serious results for serious athletes.” Englebert admitted the training isn’t cheap, and it’s not the right fit for every kid.
“We want athletes that want to be great,” Englebert said. “We want athletes that are willing to put forth the work and effort. For the athletes that have bought in, the results speak for themselves.”