Thirteen year old Harper Woods wanted so badly to follow in his sister Lydia's footsteps. Lydia, a soon-to-be senior, is a full-time student -athlete at the IMG Academy soccer program and has been for four years. But Harper is a football player, not a futbol player and he never thought about leaving the sport he loves just to come to IMG. So the Rockville, South Carolina resident stuck close to home for his schooling and traveled to various camps comes summertime.
But this summer was different. Harper finally got to experience IMG as an athlete at the IMG Academy football program. Arriving on campus June 6, Harper spent five weeks working with Academy director and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.
In five weeks time, the young quarterback took enormous steps. "Throwing and overall technique has been my biggest improvement. I was doing one big thing wrong and once I fixed that in the first week I saw big improvements for the rest of the time I was here. I also have better footwork and I feel faster."After spending five weeks in the Athletic & Personal Development program's weight room, under the instruction of performance specialist Corey Stenstrup, it is no surprise Harper also noticed big improvement in strength.
From Day 1, practice was Harper's favorite part of the camp. It gave him the best opportunity to improve his game, learn new things, and learn the things he could improve on. "The coaches always correct you. They don't let you get away with doing something the wrong way."
Although Harper declared Weinke as his favorite coach, he also valued the numerous interactions and practice sessions with the NFL players spending their off-seasons at IMG. "Fabian [Washington> taught me a lot. He taught me to always keep my head up, be positive, encourage people, and to keep a good attitude. He was always positive."
Although young, Harper is already a student of the game. Although located thousands of miles from his home, Oregon is Harper's favorite college team. "From the first time I saw them play, I like their formations and how they played. I really like the coach Chip Kelly too. I met him and he shook my hand and I talked to him."
Harper's long-term aspiration is to play in college but in the short term, he plans to live by what he learned under Weinke's direction; train hard and focus on the small things. He plans to be back next year still following in his sister's footsteps but also carving his own path and making his own name at the IMG Football Academy.