Lilburn resident Brad Lester is betting on his football prowess -- in high school and college -- to boost his training business to be one of the best in the area.
Located on Wayside Court in Lilburn, the facility is a training hub for adult and youth sports players. Others can get specialized training, as well.
"It's going good," said Lester, 26. "The community is really supporting it. Really, I think because I'm from this area."
When he went to Parkview, Lester said he enjoyed the community spirit, and he can see that the school community is still dedicated to that.
Even when he had a facility in Suwanee, there were people from southern Gwinnett County traveling there, said Lester, who is father to a 5-year-old girl.
Because of that, his ties to Lilburn, and the few training facilities on this side of the county, it made more sense to settle his business back in Liburn.
He thinks the business has done well, in part, because "people see the results from what I did, as far as out on the field."
In 2002, for example, Lester helped lead the Panthers to its last state championship. And, at Auburn University -- where Lester went on a full scholarship in 2004 -- he was a standout running back.
Football After Parkview
Lester spent five years at Auburn University, before gearing up for the NFL. He worked out with two teams, including the Houston Texans, but did not sign with either. Later, he headed for a brief stint in the Canadian Football League.
Earlier this year, Lester had some tryouts planned, but decided to do them at another time and season.
"If the opportunity comes," Lester added, "then I will pursue professional football again."
But, he wants to make sure that he's in tip-top shape.
So while he's training others, including his own brother Brian Miller who is a senior Panthers football player, Lester is getting in his own workouts.
If Lester does have to leave his nascent Lilburn business for the NFL somewhere, he assures the training facility will keep running with the help of staff.
In the off season, he'll be back in town. For now, he stays busy, disciplined and motivated.
And, that's despite sometimes feeling that his career to this point hasn't turned out as "it was supposed to." Going into his senior college year he was rated the No. 2 running back in the country, and leaving his senior year, Lester said he was No. 65.
There were fewer than 20 running backs drafted that year, and Lester, of course, wasn't one of them. He's not ready to talk about all that yet.
Making a Difference
In the future, Lester expects that he will expand his Lilburn facility and increase marketing efforts. Right now, it's a lot of word-of-mouth advertising.
He wants the business to become one of the most well-known facilities in the county. After that happens, other areas of metro Atlanta may be a possibility, he said.
Meanwhile, Lester is boosting his work with individual players and schools in metro Atlanta. This past off season the entire Parkview High team trained with him -- more than 100 high school athletes. (That team recently clinched a big win against arch-rival Brookwood High.)
Not only does he pride himself on training players that do well on the field, he prides himself on caring about the lives of the youth he works with. To that end, trainers also attend the games of those they work with.
"I like to see our kids go to the next level -- not just NFL," he said.
That next level could be anything from academics, college football, others sports and more, Lester added. He also hopes the youth he works with learn something from him and his experiences -- how he's been on and off the field.
"I talk to them about everything," he said. "They understand it's a business once you go to college. It's not a game anymore. They understand if you don't get your school work, they'll get you out of there.
"I keep it 100 percent with them, so it's no surprise."
Athletes Elite Performance is located at 4281 Wayside Court in Lilburn. Reach Brad Lester and his staff at 404-924-9991.