Next Level Training: Where collegiate athletes spend winter break


College athletes are home on winter break from the books and their classes, but the successful athletes know they need to continue training and conditioning even when they are away from their team.

Next Level Training (NLT) is a great place to train, condition and get that work in to keep an athlete competitive.

Players such as Matt Habrowski from Brother Rice and Notre Dame men's soccer can be found at NLT.

"The atmosphere consisting of the coaches and other players is demanding, but well worth it," said Habrowski. "There is no doubt NLT fosters an environment of hard work, but they balance it with fun and their dedication shows. NLT has taught me that with a driven work ethic I can expect positive results, because failure is welcomed as a chance to grow as not only a soccer player but a person. From NLT I have gained valuable life skills including leadership, self-accountability, and motivation to succeed."

Owner Aaron Byrd and trainers Scotty Wright and Renato Susnja provide great locations in Bloomfield and Plymouth for the trainings but more importantly, have a great philosophy and outlook as to how they can provide the athlete with the training they need to succeed.

As mentioned on their site, "We believe that in order to make your athlete the best they can be we must provide the best trainers possible. Therefore, before we allow a trainer to work with our athletes they participate in a month long training program to ensure they share the NLT philosophy and passion. Our trainers must not only be able to demonstrate and teach technique, but respectability as well by emphasizing teamwork and good sportsmanship and modeling that same behavior."

The trainers and owners have even taken it a step further when they can and go to the events and games of their athletes to personally see just how the training has been working for them and if there are any parts of their training that need to be worked on as well as are there to support their players.

Despite the heavy soccer background, Next Level Training is not only for soccer players but also is the home to two-time Olympian and Olympic Silver Medalist Figure Skater Patrick Chan. Chan feels that "working with Aaron at Next Level is the perfect balance of fun and hard work that's important when preparing to compete at the Olympic level. It provides me the proper footwork and endurance training that keeps me light on my feet when I'm on the ice and every session teaches me how to be more balance and efficient with my movement. It also includes working on versatile skills that can be used on the field or on the ice."

Coaches on every level of play appreciate when their athletes put in that individual and extra time to take the steps to win their spots on the team or maintain their position and push themselves to be even more competitive.

Oakland University and Horizon League Men's Soccer Coach of the Year Eric Pogue feels that "Aaron and his staff at NLT always provide an intense, competitive training environment for passionate dedicated players to be very intentional and focused on individual and small group development on the technical and tactical aspects of the game, while also working on the physical and mental demands the game places on high level players. For college players and young players with aspirations of playing at higher levels, NLT provides great supplemental training to their college and/or club training to help them reach their fullest potential and achieve their goals."

Standout college players like Eastern Michigan's Emily Dzik just told Byrd "When I think back on my college career my happiest soccer memories are ones at NLT playing in a competitive, fast-paced, challenging environment where I left afterwards feeling like I got better as a player. You believed in me at times when I didn't even believe in myself and for that I am forever grateful. You restored my love and passion for soccer when I thought that it was gone forever."

Emily continues in describing what it takes for a student-athlete to excel by saying, "Your college career really is your make or breaking point. It is either you don't give it your all and you are done with soccer after college or you give it your all and possibly get to move on and maybe even play professionally. Everyone is going to their club practices and jogs but it's putting in that time and that extra dedication to maybe miss hanging out with your friends one night to go into that training session that can help to make the difference and set you apart from everyone else."

"To get to that level, you really have to set yourself apart from the others." Emily has done just that with her efforts and hard work, she has become one of the top in the nation as a student-athlete and besides the GPA, soccer and athletic accomplishment and knowing she gave it her all.

Dzik has one of the highest GPAs out of all Eastern Michigan student-athletes, is majoring in nursing and is a member of both of the honors college and the nursing mentor program. She is also a representative for her class in the child/family health nursing with administration coordination.

On the field, Emily played in all 73 games since the Troy native arrived at EMU as a freshman in 2011 and was named to MAC All-Freshman Team after starting all 18 games and had the most minutes played of any EMU player. Her sophomore year, the first year eligible for this award, she was an Academic All-MAC student-athlete. She was named junior year as Capital One Academic All-District Second Team and Academic All-MAC accolades and the MAC Co-Defensive Player of the year. Dzik's honors in soccer also include, two-time All-MAC First Team honoree, NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Third Team, All-MAC First Team honors besides being a team captain and her team winning the MAC regular season title.

Next Level Training's website provides all of the information needed for athletes that are considered taking that step to further their aspirations and love for the game along with information on training times and locations. Included on the site are some great profiles on athletes that train there such as Summer Green who is a Women's U-20 World Cup athlete.

Summer recalls, "I like that every time I work out and train with you guys it's mentally and physically exhausting. It's challenging and pushes me to points that I didn't think I could get past. But, for some reason I do. It's helped me grow as a player because it has taught me to train hard in order to exceed my own expectations and get to where I want to be. It has helped me to grow as a person because it has pushed me to some of my mental limits I never thought I'd get to."

Aaron started NLT in 2009 and trainers Scotty and Renato have been with him for almost 4 years now. All three have many accolades and experience themselves along with each playing Division 1 level soccer at Detroit Mercy for their college careers. Byrd and Wright still play professionally here in Detroit for the Waza Flo Major Arena Soccer League team.

Next Level Training not only gives to superb training to their athletes along with support and confidence, they also help out the community. Their annual Holiday Toy Drive takes place on December 28th at the Bloomfield location and for every new, unopened toy donated, that athlete's training session is free. Training times for that day run U8-U10 9am-10am, U11-U13 10am-11am, and U14 and up 11am-Noon.

Information on the toy drive and on training times can be found at www.next-leveltraining.com

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