Gray native Joel Ross knows all about the challenges facing young athletes on their road to becoming college athletes today.
That is because Ross, a former Vandebilt Catholic and University of Southern Mississippi football player, was once in their shoes.
After years of picking up knowledge on his various stops, Ross said he wants to share his experiences with area youth.
Ross, who now works as a local fitness/performance trainer, opened the Prime Time Fitness Gym on Tuesday. It is located at 213 North Hollywood Road (Suite B) in Houma.
After graduating from Southern Mississippi, Ross has spent time as a trainer at the Pro Athletic Performance Gym in Houma and Snap Fitness Gym. During the grand opening of his own gym on Tuesday, Ross said it was a dream come true.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Ross said. “I saw a vision when I was working with Pro Athletic Performance. I didn’t quite know how it was going to happen, but eventually God guided me to where we are today.”
Ross, 28, said the gym will offer weight training, agility and overall fitness performance training to its clients. The gym will offer both full-time and part-time membership packages.
Ross said the gym will live by its slogan of "Maximizing Your Full Potential."
“We’re training kids on how to run, jump, proper form and technique, which I think is needed around here,” Ross said. “We just want to give an extended hand to the community to any child or anybody who is trying to take the next step, whether it’s in fitness or an athletic basis. I don’t want people to get caught up on the price and all that. I just want them to see the value that they get from the training that I’m providing.”
Ross, a former three-star defensive tackle out of Vandebilt in 2008, has trained many area athletes who have went on to play college sports over the years, including former E.D. White Catholic and current LSU baseball player Cameron Sanders, former Central Lafourche and Millsaps College football player Rashad Sims, former Ellender and Nicholls State University player Corion Gray, former E.D. White Catholic and new Mississippi Valley State player Nik Shanklin and others.
Ross said he wants to serve as a mentor and role model to young athletes.
“I just hope to continue that trend of getting kids to the next level first and foremost to help our youth,” Ross said. “I just want to create a buzz here in the neighborhood that we are doing some positive things over here and also to bring fitness to the next level. I have a lot of connections with other gyms in other states and places that do the same thing that we do with athletic training and fitness, so we’re just looking to bring some new excitement to the area with this new facility to see if we can change the culture around here.”
Former Vandebilt Catholic/Nicholls State women’s basketball player Sumar Leslie, who is a longtime family friend, attended Tuesday’s grand opening to show support.
“He is an amazing young man,” Leslie said. “I’ve known him for a very long time, and I believe he will be a great leader for the youth in the area.”
Ross said he appreciates the help of all his supporters, including his mother, Bessie Ross; his fiancé, Porshia Polk; and his brother, Raymond Ross, Jr. He also thanked his mentors in Pro Athletic Performance trainer David Butler and former Vandebilt football coaches in Brad Villavaso and Mark King.
“It’s a whole lot of other people who have had an influence on my life. They extended a hand to me when I was younger and helped put me on the right path,” Ross said. “That’s the same thing I’m coming back to do now is just to extend a hand to any young athlete who want to take the same road that I traveled. I have the ability and I know what it takes. If any kid that wants to come in and train and take that next step, I would advise them to come see me.”
For information, contact Ross at 985-232-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.