Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball career as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites, and for eight years served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by Morningside Books, in Dayton, Ohio.  Widely knowledgable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the country.  Involved with a number of writing projects, he and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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After a lifetime of playing football, former NFLer Tramain Hall has found his niche in training future athletes how to play better, and be better people, on and off the field.

On a recent June day at the community park in Covington, Ohio, Tramain Hall and his staff worked tirelessly to demonstrate the drills and skills that might help the 50 male and female adolescent athletes who showed up for his two-day Enhance U workout demonstration.

Even under a blazing sun and wilting temperatures they worked without complaint…sprinting, jumping, stretching.  Many were stressed by the intensity of the workout.  But,  the ”pied piper” of fitness, Hall, had their rapt attention and commitment for his pledge to help them improve.

In recent years many have set up shop to train high school athletes with the premise, and promise, of helping them improve their speed, strength, agility, and mental toughness.  Few, though, have had Hall’s pedigree, or credibility.  Few have been where he’s been, or have seen what he’s seen.

A standout high school athlete, he graduated from Deerfield Beach High School in Deerfield Beach, Florida in 2000.  Hall played college football in the Atlantic Coast Conference for coach Chuck Amato at North Carolina State in 2003 and ’04 after a two-year stint at LA Valley Junior College in Los Angeles, California.

He caught the eye of NFL scouts as a wide receiver and defensive back.  And for parts of three seasons Hall pursued a dream and a career, splitting time with the Tennessee Titans and the New Orleans Saints before injuries brought closure to his dreams as a professional football player.  Disappointed by one door being closed, he nonetheless took heart in another being opened, seizing upon his interests in coaching, fitness and conditioning, realizing an opportunity to train others to maximize their own athletic opportunities.

In 2008 Hall found his way to Huber Heights, Ohio as an assistant football coach at Wayne High School.  Committed to strength and conditioning, and sharing his life experiences with aspiring athletes, he ultimately opened the Enhance U Sports Performance Academy, a tiny, under-the-radar operation that quickly began turning out proteges’ with impressive credentials of their own…Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, and Jerel Worthy, the Green Bay Packers’ recent 2nd-round draft pick from Michigan State University.

His message quickly drew an attentive following.  Hall’s mantra:  “Mind…Body…Soul…Not only do we train athletes for competition, we train them for life.”  And while fulfilling that promise to prospective young clients and their families, Tramain Hall’s methods have quickly become gospel among Miami Valley athletes who seek what he knows and what he teaches…to become better on and off the playing field.

Tramain Hall (left) poses with protege and Ohio State quarterback, Braxton Miller.

“It’s a business, but I’m also concerned when I look out and see young kids playing sports,”  says Hall.  “I see fifth and sixth graders playing these Little League games with poor technique. In football, for example, they’re leading with their heads, hitting helmet-to-helmet, and I say to myself…who’s teaching them?”

In a day where athletes at every age are faster, stronger, and more lethal for the fact of the impact of well-placed hit, Tramain Hall is honing a two-edged human sword…and he knows it.  While he trains to maximize a player’s strength and speed, he also trains the modern athlete to protect himself in competition through superior and proper conditioning.

“My biggest concern for athletes that come to me is for them to understand that they must train and be fit to protect themselves on the playing field, to stay injury-free, no matter the sport.  We know that they want to play, that they’re gonna’ play…that they want to be bigger and stronger, and by building them up it increases the odds of injury. But if they’re built up and strong enough they’re going to be more prepared to withstand the kind of contact that causes concussions and a shoulder or knee injury.

“In regards to football, it is a violent, violent sport.  We all know that.  On the average day every hit in the NFL is like someone being in a head-on car wreck, so if your body isn’t prepared for that kind of physical abuse…well, you tell me.”

Tramain Hall attracts that percentage of high school, junior high…and yes, youth athletes…that want to stand out in competition…ones who want to be bigger, stronger, faster, and more lethal on the playing field.  Ones that want to play at the next level.  Ones that see sports as a means of accomplishing life goals, starting with a better life.

On the day that 50 showed up in Covington, there were easily another 300 from area schools that did not, for one reason or another.  It begs the question…that if one in six are committed to maximize their competitive impact, are the other five at risk if they are not so committed?

Coaches have conceded for years, for generations, the risk of playing competitive sports, especially impact sports like football.  Concussions happen.  Knees happen…ankles, shoulders and hips.  Still, they play.

Hall is out to deliver the message to those who might be naive to the realities of modern athletics.  The message?  Be ahead of the curve.  Be prepared.  Know your risks.  And know that any amount of training you do is going to help by developing useful habits after the playing days are over.

“There are always going to be players that are bigger, faster and stronger and more committed to be better physically,”  he says.  “That’s part of why we’re here…to help kids compete against that kind of athlete.

“And there are ways of being prepared to compete against players who are bigger, faster, and stronger.  There’s a physical part, but there’s also the mental part.  And we sit down with young players and teach them what we call “shop talk”.  That’s part of the program of Enhance U.  We talk about what they’re gettin’ into when they decide to play competitive sports.  They need to understand that there’s going to be contact, and sometimes contact can cause some physical damage.  So they’re here to get faster, stronger, and mentally tougher to withstand it.  Parents need to understand that those two out of ten that do train properly can put the other eight at risk if they don’t train.

“Does that mean that they won’t want their kids to play?  No, they’re gonna’ want them to play, but they have to understand that they need to be trained.  To be physically tougher, yes, but to be mentally tougher, too.  That helps you for the rest of your life.”

They’re listening to Tramain Hall, signing up on that June day in Covington to gain more of what it takes to be a modern athlete…strength, speed, agility and mental toughness.  They’re looking at his website (www.Enhance-U.com), reading about Braxton Miller and Jerel Worthy, and plotting to follow their example.  Some actually will…one, maybe two out of 25 or 30.  Most will not.

It is a business, yes, with the small percentage of those committed to be the next Miller or Worthy.  But Tramain Hall also has his eye on the others…those who won’t play for Ohio State or the Green Bay Packers, but want to play just the same.  They need to know.  They need to be ahead of the curve.

Mind…body…and soul.  You need to train for life!

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