Eagle’s Landing running back Sedrick Palmer gets strapped up before a training session with McDonough area trainer Chris Strayhand. (Special Photo)
McDONOUGH — Chris Strayhand realizes that he’s not the most widely known personal trainer in the Southern Crescent area.
He knows there are others who may have flashier credentials, bigger facilities and more popularity, and he’s totally okay with that.
“I kind of consider myself the best kept secret of Henry County,” Strayhan said. “I have some kids that work really hard. And they kind of have to want to accomplish something pretty special in order to want to hang out with me.”
According to the list of current and former high school athletes from the area who have been a part of Strayhand’s training program, it’s safe to say that “special” is an adequate adjective to describe some of his athletes.
Strayhand has been training in the area for about eight years, and during that time he has helped over 30 student-athletes condition their bodies to make the jump from high school football to the NCAA Division I level.
Among those athletes are names such as former Ola standouts Rashard Pippins and Tre McBride as well as Tyler Wesson and Chris Moody of Henry County High.
From Clayton County, Strayhand worked extensively with members of Lovejoy High’s back-to-back state runner up teams such as all-state running back Travis Custis, now at Georgia Tech and other Wildcat standouts David Washington, Josh Walker and Quan Jones.
Strayhand said he takes special pleasure in being able to have a hand in transforming the athletes who have made some of the most drastic changes.
“Man, I just love watching them grow,” he said. “It’s so exciting. I like taking the kids that have nothing but just the heart. And to watch them achieve something special, it’s just awesome.”
One such player that Strayhand mentions he’s most proud of Walker.
“Josh Walker was just one of those kids from Lovejoy who played in games, but didn’t make plays,” he said. “But the harder he worked, the faster and quicker he got. Josh couldn’t change directions and redirect his body on the field to save his life until he started training.”
Strayhand talks about a drill he used with Walker that involved being attached to a fence with bands, sometimes in inclement weather, making him move laterally and change directions quickly.
He has had others running and climbing up hills in rough terrain that seemed more like mountains, in addition to more traditional forms of strength training.
Basically, he uses whatever it takes to get the most out of athletes who are serious about unleashing the full complement of their potential.
Most recently, he’s worked with the most recent group of Eagle’s Landing High seniors — a class that includes Bradley Dewberry (signed with Eastern Illinois), Corey Holloway (signed with Western Carolina) and Sedrick Palmer (signed with Coastal Carolina), all of whom helped the Golden Eagles gain post a school record for wins (eight) in a season.
“Sedrick Palmer now, he’ll tackle you and knock your lights out,” Strayhand said of the Eagle’s Landing senior. “But even his dad will tell you, Sedrick in the ninth grade couldn’t tackle anybody. He’d just reach and fall down.”
The training work done with the Eagle’s Landing players is specifically impressive, given the fact that most of the Golden Eagles played full time on both offense and defense, and had to endure a summer of conditioning and training without a weight room due to school improvements.
Strayhand’s work doesn’t just stop with football athletes. He trains out of The Compound in McDonough, which is a popular training ground for some of the best high school wrestlers in the state.
He loves his work, he said. He calls is “a blessing from God” to be able to make major impact on the lives of student athletes. That’s why notoriety has never been a big deal for him.
He finds satisfaction in more personal ways.
“They’re growth and success make all the difference for me,” Strayhand said. “The legacy that you leave with the athletes you train is huge. They all still call me from time to time. I still talk to all of them. That’s where it’s at for me.”