By Myers Reece, 8-01-12
||Caption: Personal trainer Ryan Groshong, left, runs alongside Ryan Edwards during Edwards’ workout at M Team Fitness. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
It’s a hot Friday afternoon and a huge person is lumbering up a hill in north Kalispell. People passing by would likely have to take a second look. He might be the biggest person they’ve ever seen. And he just keeps running up and down the hill.
While this may be a noteworthy spectacle for a passerby, for Ryan Edwards it is the new normal. After verbally committing to play basketball at Gonzaga University in June, the 7-foot, 300-pound Edwards made another commitment: to dedicate himself to health and fitness in a way he’s never known.
As his senior year at Glacier High School nears, Edwards is working out with strength and conditioning coach Troy M. Schultz three times a week. Schultz is the owner of the recently opened M Team Fitness in north Kalispell.
Schultz has been a strength and conditioning coach for 25 years and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He previously owned a private fitness facility in the Bay Area, where his extensive clientele list included professional athletes.
The July 27 hill training was an example of the diverse workout regimen Schultz is crafting for Edwards: footwork drills, speed drills, power cleans, squats, hills and more.
“The recruiter and strength coach think he has a lot of talent and stuff going on that you can’t teach,” Schultz said. “I’m bringing in all the intangibles with his footwork, stamina, agility. I want to put him in the right direction.”
But the work doesn’t stop when the training sessions end. Schultz believes in health and fitness as a lifestyle and philosophy, meaning everything from everyday posture to eating habits need to be taken into account.
“My philosophy on food is, ‘If God made it, eat it. If man made it, don’t touch it,’” Schultz said. “A lot of fresh meats, vegetables, fruits – we just omitted a lot of the man-made processed food.”
In only three weeks, Edwards says he feels like a different person. Little aches that he had grown accustomed to are gone. The new diet makes him feel great. He’s lost 10 pounds, from 305 to 295. He’s getting stronger and quicker. And his back pain is disappearing, which he attributes to Schultz’s advice to walk with a more upright posture.
“I’ve always slouched because I’m so much taller than everybody else,” Edwards said.
Last year as a junior, Edwards helped lead Glacier to its second straight Western AA regular season title and fourth straight state basketball tournament appearance. The Wolfpack lost to cross-town rival Flathead 63-58 in the state semifinals. In the loss, Edwards had 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Edwards, who was named Class AA all-state, averaged 13.3 points and led the state in rebounding (10.7) and blocks (3) his junior season. Still, he remained somewhat under the college scouting radar, as much as a 7-footer can remain under any radar. When he announced that he had committed to play at Gonzaga in June, there were surely quite a few college coaches wondering, “Where did he come from?”
In a piece titled “Gonzaga May Have Uncovered a Rare Hidden Gem in Ryan Edwards,” Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Eisenberg noted how difficult it is in these media-saturated days for “an elite player to still be a mystery by his senior year.” But he wasn’t a mystery to Gonzaga coaches, who liked the potential they saw in the young man.
Those who have watched Edwards understand that potential. Though he hasn’t yet displayed consistent and overwhelming dominance, he has shown an ability at times to take over games and a steady overall growth in his skills. His full potential seems to be lurking and waiting to be seized – a big man with a soft shooting touch, surprisingly deft footwork and excellent hands is hard to find.
To help bring out his peak potential, Gonzaga coaches advised Edwards to work with a personal trainer. That’s how he ended up with Schultz. He appears to be in good hands.
“Everything Gonzaga has asked and is looking for, Troy is doing,” Edwards, who plans to study engineering, said. “He’s very knowledgeable and he knows what he’s doing.”
Schultz says the training techniques Edwards is learning now will be useful for the rest of his athletic career, ably preparing him for Gonzaga’s workout regimen and any other post-high school training requirements.
Ryan Edwards works out at M Team Fitness. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
Edwards is learning to be “goal specific,” Schultz said, and to be “conscious and intentional” with everything he does, including deciding who to hang out with his senior year, what time to go to sleep and any other number of life’s details.
“The thing that’s really good about Ryan is that his mind is so open and he’s a good student and a very good communicator,” Schultz said. “Ryan’s just a great kid. And the man’s a giant.”
By the time basketball starts in November, Schultz expects Edwards to be about 25 pounds lighter, which will allow him to be quicker on his feet and get up and down the court with more ease. But he will also be stronger, so he’ll be able to bang down by the basket.
When not working as a groundskeeper at Eagle Bend Golf Club, which requires hours of 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., Edwards hones his basketball skills on a court at his house. But he said an improved non-basketball workout routine was the top priority for Gonzaga coaches. While a soft shooting touch may come naturally, the ability to play 40 minutes of intense collegiate basketball only comes with hard work – especially with Edwards’ build.
On a recent evening after a workout, Edwards munched on a banana that looked tiny in his hand. He seemed content, though very tired. He has embraced his new lifestyle. For opponents, a quicker, stronger, more confident 7-footer could be a nightmare. Not to mention, Edwards says he’s not done growing.
“I hope I don’t keep getting taller, but I think it’s going to happen,” he said. “The doctor says another couple inches, maybe 7-3.”
While Edwards is excited for Gonzaga, he says he has a lot of unfinished business left in high school. That state semifinal loss hasn’t been forgotten.
“I want us to win a state championship,” he said. “I’m not really working on personal goals – I’m thinking about our team winning a state championship.”
[End of article]