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As the COVID-19 pandemic lingered on, Xclusive Speed founder and head trainer Giles Chapman had a thought that could provide long-term benefits to athletes in the Bay Area and the west coast.
For a few months on Sundays, Xclusive Speed has been conducting group sessions of 50-plus people. During those times, Chapman started to realize that there might not be a season or that the season might get pushed back – which is exactly what happened as the California Interscholastic announced a new sports calendar where events begin in January.
Right then and there, he and the organization concocted the idea of bringing exposure to athletes whose seasons likely would not happen in the fall like usual. Create a competition. Get cameras there. Get media organizations to come out.
Just find a way to showcase athletes, and that is exactly what happened with the Bay Area Top 100 Showcase on July 18 in San Ramon that was filled with some of the top high school and junior college football players in the area.
“We kind of figured that, ‘Hey, the college coaches can’t have camp on their campus. It’s dead period right now, so what if we created something, we got content and video and sent it directly towards them so that now we’re talking to them direct message – whether it’s via Twitter, Instagram or text or phone call,'” Chapman said. “‘Hey, I got a kid. He just performed. Here’s his official 40-time, shuttle time and give him a look.’ It’s a beautiful situation.”
While there would be hurdles to clear because of the ongoing health situation – like sending everything to the county and city to make sure things would be approved – Chapman and Xclusive Speed were able to put together a morning worth of exciting competition for all parties involved.
With the help of coaches from all over, the platform came together in a big way to give student-athletes an opportunity to get their names out there in the form of 40-yard dashes, broad jumps, shuttles and one-on-ones.
“The fact that we were able to do this in the heat of a pandemic and do it safely and under state and county guidelines and get full permission and backing from the police department, the city and the county – it was incredible,” Chapman said. “It was incredible. We really just want to give the babies a platform just so that they can shine, just so that they can showcase their talents.”
Some of the top MVP awards from the competition included Mountain View wide receiver Austin Flax hauling in the Offensive MVP honors – and Wide Receiver MVP – after averaging 20-plus yards per catch as a junior, along with Skyline’s Darius Fonteno receiving Defensive MVP recognition following a dominant outing.
Film and test scores were sent out to more than 100 colleges, including HBCUs, and Chapman and all of the coaches had their connections to make sure everything was pushed out. Chapman, who played at Alabama State before moving on to Nevada and then earning his master’s from South Florida, understands the importance of building connections and those lifelong relationships.
“Going to put all those together, and it’s nothing but a text or a phone call away, and that is the most beautiful part is that we don’t need necessarily a bigger brand to partner with,” Chapman said. “We are essentially the platform. We essentially are giving opportunity to really showcase these athletes just by our own network. It’s really, really special. And I went to an HBCU. I went to Alabama State, so just those two years alone. You go to an HBCU and you build instant connections, and those connections last a lifetime.
“We’re going to be sending these out to HBCUs, and I’m really excited about that. Just with everything else going on, with Black Lives Matter movement, I just wanted to push for more notoriety with the west coast athletes because the west coast athletes would love the opportunity to go an HBCU if they were seen in the appropriate environment. We gave them this environment, so I’m excited.”
Xclusive Speed is planning another showcase in September, and a date and time for that is imminent.
That will be another time for the organization to give back and promote the success and talents of high school student-athletes in the region – something Chapman can’t help but keep smiling about.
“It’s special,” Chapman said. “I can easily go to Detroit, where we’ve already held something. I could go to Miami, where we’ve already held something and do the same thing, but why when I can come right here in the heart of the Bay Area where I was raised and give back on this type of magnitude, on this type of scale and do it with just raw just pure love.
“And the fact that we can all come together from the coaches to the volunteers and the athletes and the parents and construct something like this – it is huge, it is huge. I don’t think people really understand the magnitude and the history that we just set in the heat of a pandemic.”
Photo Gallery from the Bay Area Top 100 Showcase
Bay Area Top 100 Showcase Award Winners
Offensive MVP: Austin Flax (Mountain View)
Defensive MVP: Darius Fonteno (Skyline)
Defensive Back MVP: Javonte Jackson (College of San Mateo)
Defensive Line MVP: Dominic Childress (Mountain House)
Linebacker MVP: Nick Patterson (Laney College)
Offensive Line MVP: Nick Struempf (Monte Vista)
Quarterback MVP: Anthony Grisby Jr. (Cosumnes Oaks)
Running Back MVP: Michael Lewis (Castro Valley)
Wide Receiver MVP: Austin Flax (Mountain View)
Fastest Man Competition: William Brown (San Joaquin Delta College)
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