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Strength coach helps star athletes earn a college scholarship

Strength coach helps star athletes earn a college scholarship

CommunityHealthCorrective exercise specialist and lifelong athlete John DiFede has been in business for more than 25 years, but to him it still feels just as fresh and exciting as when he began his physical rehab, strength, conditioning and performance enhancement training practice back in 1987.

A three-sport athlete in football, track and wrestling at Columbus High School, he went on to play linebacker at Fort Lewis College, studied pre-med at FIU and spent two years in Barry University’s podiatry program. Although already a certified massage therapist, National Academy of Sports Medicine Performance Enhancement Specialist, a USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach and member of the National Council of Strength and Fitness, DiFede still eagerly and actively pursues every opportunity to build upon his already considerable acumen.

“I still have sleepless nights, which is good because it means that I’m still passionate about my work,” he says. “I’m always trying to further my education, because if you reach a point where you think that you’re finished and that you know enough, that’s when you’re way mistaken.”

Working out of Thump Gym at 8100 SW 81 Drive in the Kings Creek Shopping Center, DiFede’s sessions – which are either done in small groups or in private lessons – focus on proper exercise, core strengthening, balance, agility and proper running. His clients range from regular people seeking improved health to professional athletes of all types, including football players, boxers, ballet dancers and gymnasts.

One client DiFede is particularly proud of is Anthony Brown, a basketball star at Archbishop Carroll High School who picked up football in the middle of his junior year. After transferring to Killian High School in his senior year, he performed so well on the field that he earned a full ride scholarship to the University of Arkansas.

“He’s only played 16 games in his whole life,” DiFede says. “He was always too big for little league football. He’s six-foot-three, weighs about 245 pounds and has excellent speed, quickness and agility for a big guy. Arkansas is getting quite a good athlete, and I could see him playing linebacker at the next level. He’s definitely going to go pro, in my opinion.”

Brown was born into difficult family circumstances, and four years ago his parents signed over guardianship to his best friend Gianni’s father, Eloy Garcia. DiFede has been working with him for a little more than a year now. They meet eight hours a week, working under a specialized program of running and weight lifting, and their relationship has developed from one of trainer and athlete to one of mentorship.

“He’s got parents still – in fact he’s going to see his mom this afternoon – but we are like a family to him,” he says. “I don’t just coach him in football technique; we talk about life a lot. There are a lot of life lessons in the sport of football. Sometimes you run into rough spots, and though they don’t always replicate exactly on the field, there are certain times when things look pretty grim and you snap out of it, press on and things change.”

For more information, call 305-323-0816

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