Star-Telegram reporter Brian Gosset goes head-to-head with 4-star QB Ken Seals at local workout
So, you think you’re in shape?
You might think otherwise after workoing out at McGuire Sports Academy in Weatherford.
Take a five-minute trip west of Weatherford High School and you’ll likely hear the moaning and grunting of athletes in pain as Mari McGuire puts them through one of her infamous workouts.
No pain, no gain, right?
Go ahead and ask four-star Weatherford commit Ken Seals, who regularly works out at McGuire Sports Academy.
“My dad had heard about a trainer up in the Brock area who worked on strength, speed and agility,” said the 2020 Vanderbilt commit. “I thought ‘I’m a pro-style QB, why do I need a personal trainer?’
“30 minutes into my first workout, I stopped. I was yellow in the face and it wasn’t fun at all.”
But the hard work paid off as Seals lowered his 40-yard dash time and went from a 4.7 to a 4.2 on his shuttle time, one of the key measuring sticks at the NFL Combine.
“I started to come once a week to work on my technique. I got to a point where I was more explosive,” Seals said. “So far it’s helped a lot. I’m very thankful for her.”
As are many other athletes, who come from all over the place to train with the former Kangaroo softball standout and Texas A&M Aggie.
Adjacent to McGuire’s home is her facility where many Dallas-Fort Worth athletes come to train. She’s been involved with coaching and training since she was 16 and has been working athletes out in Weatherford for the past 10 years.
“I never really envisioned it, it just organically happened,” said McGuire, who lives in Weatherford with her husband and daughter. “I moved from Atlanta and was giving lessons. I would have different kids just at my house and it started to get bigger. I needed more space.”
McGuire grew up with three brothers and a father who was a college athlete.
“I’ve worked out my whole life and I enjoy it,” she said. “It was natural progression for me. I’m more sports specific. If you come to me and you’re in baseball or softball or a quarterback, I’ll implement drills they’ll actually use on the court or field.”
More than just softball
What started as a workout for softball players, grew into much more.
McGuire said she has trained thousands of athletes. Most weeks during the summer, she’ll have up to 300 kids and 70 a day. She does private lessons and group sessions.
It began in Parker County, but now she trains kids all over Dallas-Fort Worth.
She has even trained professional athletes such as boxers and MMA fighters.
“What makes me different from a normal trainer is I work more on explosiveness,” McGuire said. “I’m a dynamic specialist that likes to work on fundamentals and mechanics. A lot of people will come to me to get their 40-yard dash down, even though I’m not a track coach.
“I try to build a complete athlete. I just have a different approach than a lot of programs.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time. Word gets out. I have a lot of resources and know many coaches, doctors and physical therapists. My players like Ken will tell his friends to come to me if you need to get to the next level so I’m grateful for that.”
College kids making a difference
McGuire doesn’t travel as much, but will get invited to college campuses to talk about strength and conditioning. She will also invite her former high school players to come talk to her current kids.
One of those former high school standouts is Burleson Centennial’s Gracie Morton.
Morton was a four-year starter on the softball team. She continued her career at Memphis, where she’s a sophomore.
“She completely transformed me as an athlete. I’m stronger, faster, I’ve gained bat speed and arm speed on my throw. It’s made me tough both mentally and physically,” Morton said. “She never gave me the opportunity to give up and as a result it’s allowed me to push myself beyond where I never thought I could go.”
Another is former Brock softball standout Bailey Wagner, who’s a sophomore on the Harding softball team. Wagner recently became a strength coach in Arkansas.
She heard about McGuire in 2011 and started doing private lessons with her brother.
“We started doing lessons with her husband and one thing led to another and I started coming to Mari’s speed and agility classes,” Wagner said. “Mari has not only helped me become a better softball player, but she has helped me become a better Christian. The way she would minister to us in the middle of a workout is something I simply can’t explain. You’d have to experience it for yourself.”
When Wagner was 11, she wasn’t motivated to work out with McGuire, but she decided she wanted to play college softball two years later and that’s when things changed.
“I believe that was the turning point in my athletic career,” Wagner said. “Five years later here I am entering my second year at one of the best Division II programs in the country.”
Other athletes McGuire has trained include Weatherford’s Beau Burrows, who was drafted in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, and former NFL players Demetri Goodson and Chris Johnson, both who were drafted by the Green Bay Packers. She also trained former TCU basketball player Kenrich Williams, who’s now with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Anyone who has met Mari would agree she is an absolute blessing to have a relationship with,” Wagner said. “Whether you are in need of a hitting lesson, an intense workout, or you have a prayer request, Mari is the person for you.”