Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonathan Ligons.
Hi Jonathan, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Growing up with a dad as a coach and everyone being around you being an athlete, I couldn’t help but love sports. I have pictures of me holding footballs and basketballs that were bigger than I was. I played baseball and I hooped but it was something about football that other sports couldn’t compare to. Once I had my heart set on football it was all go from there. I played football at Centennial high school and received my AA Degree from East L.A College. I tried the HBCU route and attended Langston University but decided to transfer after the first semester. When I got home, I worked out everyday. I would some days take some of the kids in my neighborhood to Kenneth Hahn and Sand Dune Park to run. We did this until it was time for me to head to New Mexico Highlands University. Every vacation, every break, the workouts would pick up right where we left off when I would come home. And there were always a few new faces so naturally things were beginning to grow. I finished up my senior season leading in all purpose yards and touchdowns at Highlands for the RMAC and graduated with my degree in Human Sport and Performance (Kinesiology 2009) and got picked up to play arena football in Washington for an expansion team. I had a great time learning and earning a paycheck but understanding contracts and the business side of sports really opened my eyes to how the machine works.
After two years of arena football (2010-12) in Washington, I began training athletes once I arrived home. I started coach football and having fun with it and branched into track and field which was less stressful and time-consuming. I developed a few notable athletes in the process. One in particular by the name of Bunchie Young had the opportunity to run the game ball into the Super Bowl. In 2016, I started Optimum Speed Track Club with the United States of America Track and Field (USATF) and my athletes were dominating the West Coast. Our team wasn’t large but we are well known in the track world. November of 2019, I decided I wanted to do a little more for the children in my community. I looked in my backyard one day and stuck a shovel into the ground and started digging. With my vision, 200sqft of turf, a few great friends, and 27,000lbs of sand later “The Crib Training Facility” was born. The Crib was built for young athletes to feel safe, get a real family vibe in a great neighborhood, and get the best training in the area from someone who cares about them. I come from a very large family so everything I do is based on family and putting everything on the line to ensure that our kids have the best opportunity to be successful in the real world.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road was definitely like some of our streets in Compton; full of bumps and holes (I do love my city regardless of any of its perfect imperfections). After years of training athletes at a facility in another community, we were told we had to leave and they wouldn’t rent to us because they were no longer renting to athletic clubs. However, two weeks later they were renting to another youth club for distance runners. And that’s when my vision for “The Crib” went from ideas on paper to dirt being shoveled, piled and placed in a wheel barrel. After weeks of 12 hour days and some overnight working, I completed the initial phase of “The Crib” and was finally able to invite athletes to train. The Crib started running smoothly then the pandemic started and it put me in a whirlwind. Everything I was hoping for The Crib stopped. It was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had. We practiced on Monday, Wednesday, we got that executive order and BOOM… Nothing.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I train athletes in multiple sports (football, basketball, track and field, lacrosse, baseball, etc.). I specialize in developing and athletes neuromuscular systems. This includes speed, strength, and development of their thought process. Being able to make great decisions in a high-stress environment prepares you for real-life situations. I was also featured in ESPN the magazine for training Bunchie in an article called “Too Young for Division 1.” I’m most proud of being fired from my job and turning something that I loved doing and creating ways for myself and others around me to generate an income. I believe that my experiences and passion for the betterment of these kids set me apart from a lot of the other coaches and trainers out there.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
My drive to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do it has been the key to my success. I use any and everything that’s negative to fuel that drive positively and it works for me.
- Email: Jonathan@teamoptimumspeed.com
- Website: www.teamoptimumspeed.com
- Instagram: @SpeedCoach_jonathan
Antoine Lewis @1candidcamera