Sanford POWER has made a significant impact in the Midwest with a holistic approach to becoming a better at sports. Athletes and coaches in POWER’s home region know this. They’re fully aware of what a commitment to a program can mean.
Sanford POWER will now work with elite and professional athletes in Irvine, California, with an operation that will include all the distinctive brand attributes now present in the Dakotas and Minnesota. That includes a Sanford POWER Golf Academy, POWER performance lab services and accompanying sports physical therapy and recovery services.
The POWER team’s athletes will include clients of REP 1 Sports, a full-service athlete representation agency based in Irvine that shares the same building.
“At Sanford POWER, we’re taking athletes from where they are to where they want to be,” said Steve Young, president of Sanford Sports. “We do that for middle school athletes and high school athletes and now in Irvine, for elite professional athletes.”
It’s an expansion that promises to have mutual benefit for those engaged in the programs in Irvine and those in our home towns where Sanford POWER has a presence.
“Everything we’re learning here in Sioux Falls — and everything we’re learning in Fargo, Bismarck and Bemidji — are things that we can transfer to each community,” Young said. “And what we’re learning in Irvine we can use here. We’re just going to keep getting better.”
Taking aim at targets
Specifically, Sanford POWER programs aim at specific targets in relation to goals, age, training history and skill level.
It is why Sanford POWER now has a presence on the West Coast that has attracted the interest of professional athletes. The adaptability factor applies both in terms of the variety of athletes involved and the level of expertise available.
What works in North and South Dakota and Minnesota, it turns out, can work just as well in Orange County.
“We have the skill set, we have the programming and now we have a staff and a facility,” Young said. “What’s nice is that people are flocking to that area – it’s become a hotbed for offseason training for professional athletes.”
The Sanford POWER facility in Irvine is a two-story, 55,000-square-foot building that was formerly used by ASICS, the sports equipment company. The space includes Sanford POWER essentials like a weight room, a turf area and testing equipment.
It also includes a full-size basketball court operated by well-known skills coach Jordan Lawley, in addition to the golf academy and a physical therapy component operated by Irvine Orthopedic Sports Therapy.
The second story is inhabited by REP 1 Sports, one of the leading agencies for professional athletes in the nation. The second level also includes headquarters and retail space for Mitchell & Ness, a company that specializes in selling throwback sports attire.
“Imagine if you’re a professional athlete – you can stop and see your agent, see their physical therapist, get in a workout in with your strength coach, hit some golf balls and pick up a throwback jersey for a family member,” said Scott Hettenbach, director of the POWER sports performance program. “You can do all these things without driving all over California.”
Elite staff for elite athletes
The Sanford staff in Irvine includes two PGA-certified golf coaches, four strength and conditioning coaches and a board-certified sports physical therapist. The general manager is Eric Renaghan, who was formerly the performance coach for the St. Louis Blues, assisting in their Stanley Cup title in 2019.
Renaghan had been working in the NHL since 2011 when he moved on to a new challenge last year with Sanford POWER.
Helping athletes get ready for the next season – rather than focusing on getting them ready for the next game – was an intriguing shift for Renaghan. Sanford POWER gives him the opportunity to do that.
“Number one, we integrate technology in our training environment and can use that data to make more directed, impactful decisions with our programming for athletes,” Renaghan said. “That’s a big differentiator for us. A close second would be our staff. We have an elite performance and medical staff here in the building. What we’re doing is unique in the private sector.”
The same is true for the Sanford POWER Golf Academy. The comprehensive approach is distinctive even on the West Coast where the winter months do not impede outdoor activities nearly to the extent they do in the Midwest.
“What we do has been so well received in Sioux Falls,” said Todd Kolb, director of instruction for Sanford POWER Golf Academy. “We felt like this might be something that would work elsewhere, too.”
The Sanford POWER model for improvement will be very similar in that it will include PGA-certified instructors in collaboration with a strength and conditioning staff. The crew in Irvine will be incorporating the same approach.
“I’ve always had the philosophy that the best thing we can do to help our coaches be successful is to give them time with the athlete, whether that athlete is 13 years old or 67 years old,” Kolb said. “We have great coaches here at Sanford, we have great physical therapists and we have great strength and conditioning people. We develop our programs to give our people time with golfers. When we combine those two things, that’s where the magic happens. Our staff has time to work with the athletes and help them get better.”
While there are cultural differences between what is going on in Sioux Falls and what is going on a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Sanford POWER approach to golf is working.
Personal teaching attention is bolstered by access to 3D analysis, ground force reaction and 3D motion capture. In other words, all the types of things available from a research standpoint available in Sioux Falls are available in Irvine.
“We knew it was going to take some time,” Kolb said. “So we’ve been out there telling our story, getting people in the door and showing them what we do. That initial reaction has been crazy through-the-roof better than I expected. We’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but we’re proving the concepts that we believe in that have worked in Sioux Falls are working in California. The early results are speaking for that.”
How it all started
Sanford’s affiliation with REP 1 began with NFL players Carson Wentz and Dallas Goedert. Both entered the league with strong ties to the Dakotas and Sanford. They also both played for the Philadelphia Eagles — Wentz has since signed with Indianapolis for 2021 — and were represented by REP 1.
Through those relationships, REP 1 introduced a possible partnership. They shared their vision and Sanford now has a foothold in a major metropolitan area.
“At Sanford it’s always been about relationships and teaming up with great people,” Hettenbach said. “And REP 1 has some great folks. That spurred us on to the next level of conversation and finding ways that we could make this work. When you’re partnering with great people, great things can come out of that.”
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