IRVING When former NBA All-Star Jermaine O’Neal’s daughter was old enough to play volleyball, he realized that there weren’t any training programs for young athletes in North Texas to teach them about proper nutrition and the importance of academics.
O’Neal’s dream to open a state-of-the-art sports training center for youth is now a reality, as the Drive Nation Sports Complex opened last week in the Southgate Plaza on Dallas/Fort Worth Airport property bordering Euless and Irving. The address is 2550 Car Rental Drive.
“I’m very excited about this. Sports is an incredible format for kids and their parents. It’s one of the leading businesses, and it shouldn’t be dealt with in a mom-and-pop sort of way,” O’Neal said.
The $12.7 million, 93,000-square-foot facility has a 50-yard turf field, a 10,000-square-foot weight room, and volleyball and basketball courts. It also has a full-service kitchen and concessions.
Drive Nation is geared toward elementary school children, with the primary goal of preparing them for college, said O’Neal, who lives in Southlake.
Drive Nation will provide scholarships to help cover training costs, but the levels are still being determined, said Jay Ory, director of business development and marketing.
Students must get recommendations from teachers and coaches, much like applying for college scholarships.
Children need a good grounding in nutrition and academics, O’Neal said, adding that chefs will be on hand to prepare meals and snacks.
“As we tear their bodies down by training, we want to put something back that has substance. A lot of times they buy fast food, which does nothing for the body but hurt it.”
O’Neal said Drive Nation also will teach children about community service.
O’Neal added that he is forming partnerships with area corporations for mentoring.
Even though only a small percentage of the young people will become professional athletes, the skills they learn will help them throughout their lives, O’Neal said.
“Life is about hard work and determination,” he said.
More information is at www.drivenationsports.com.