By Adrian Arambulo and Alex Vasquez
Former NFL linebacker Jordan Campbell is working with kids to train a new generation of athletes. Adrian Arambulo and Alex Vasquez tell the story on NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on April 28, 2019. (Published Sunday, April 28, 2019)
The Los Angeles Rams and LA Chargers picked up important new players in the NFL Draft this week, and there is a one-of-a-kind charter school in Southern California that trains elementary and middle school kids who dream of one day hearing their names called by the NFL commissioner.
Jordan Campbell is the visionary behind the program, and there are NFL players who say the program helped them become better professionals.
Kids have to maintain a 3.0 grade point average to continue to train at Winners Circle Athletics. The program has been so successful that there are plans to expand to Orange County, Las Vegas and even Texas.
Countless Southern California kids dream of making it to the NFL, but the hard truth is less than one tenth of one percent of high school players make it to the professional ranks.
The competition is brutal.
So, Campbell is giving kids at Winners Circle Athletics in Corona the edge that could make their dreams become reality.
Campbell works to build the perfect environment for kids training to one day make it to the NFL, and he would know what it takes, since he played in the NFL.
Campbell says he saw a void during his journey from the Inland Empire to the bright lights of Sunday football. He believed there was a better way to develop student athletes, especially those growing up in tough neighborhoods, like he did.
“I always wanted to be the guy to come back and change it,” Campbell says.
Campbell says he wanted to share knowledge and training techniques to put kids in better positions to fulfill their dreams.
“If you can give these kids the best resources at the college and pro levels at a younger age, they are going to start to develop faster,” Campbell says.
And so, Campbell has a 65,000-square-foot campus that looks and feels like a professional sports facility, which is the point.
Children start as early as the 4th grade and get access to trainers, sports scientists, nutritionists and more.
Even professional athletes like running back Jamal Williams of the Green Bay Packers, who is from Rialto, worked out with the program. Williams, like Campbell, is willing to share his knowledge with kids about what it takes to reach the top.
“The mental part is what you need to work on with kids,” Williams says. “How are you going to react to certain things like a bad play? Are you going to cry or work hard and keep grinding and make your dreams come true?”
Green Bay defensive lineman Kenny Clark, who is from San Bernardino, said the lessons learned at Winners Circle Athletics are invaluable and helped him develop the habits that made him a professional athlete.
“The culture, the schedule, the set up is amazing,” Clark says. “The culture of anything is important. Whatever you’re around every day, thats what you’re going to become.”
These success stories have spread and kids travel from as far as Calabasas, Orange County, even San Diego. The student body has doubled in size, and the program claims 90 percent of kids have received private school scholarships.
“Make sure you have a great attitude, don’t show bad body language because its gonna rub off on other people,” aspiring pro athlete Micheal Matthews talks about what he’s learning in the program.
“Hard work” and “respect” are lessons that the student athletes repeatedly emphasize.
“With every coach, every teacher, they’re like a mentor,” Madison Irwin, who plays soccer, says. “Like a brother or sister, sometimes they’re hard on you because they know you can be better. They want to get you to where your full potential is.”
She adds, “I’ve become a better overall person. It’s been a great experience.”
Winners Circle Athletics is connecting young athletes with the best avenues to accomplish their goals, while instilling great attitudes, adding character and sharpening skills that will translate beyond the playing field.
“Its about learning great habits at a young age they can take with them through their process,” Campbell says.