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From winless to undefeated, new program boosts Patrick Henry football team

Personal trainer Tyler Phillips turned to the community, raising enough money to bring a strength training program to the north Minneapolis school.

MINNEAPOLIS — In the Patrick Henry weight room Thursday, a few of the school's football players rotated through Tyler Phillips' workouts with confidence and ease. But they weren't always so fit.

"The last two years, we've thrown up a big goose egg," Phillips said. "Won zero games."

A few years ago, Phillips was working within the north Minneapolis school for the Youth Coordinating Board. A retired professional football player and current personal trainer offering classes at gyms including Lululemon at Mall of America, he noticed the football team only trained during football season.

"There was no training in the off-season, so I knew we needed to come in and give them a professional program," he said. "The off-season program is probably the most important thing for a team to be able to build that strength and comradery."

Phillips says he wanted to find a way to offer strength and conditioning training for free. Last year, he turned to the community and raised nearly $3,500 to launch the Patrick Henry Strength Team.

"We're at about $3,500 but we're trying to get to $10,000 so hopefully we can get to $10,000 by the end of this year and we can be able to give that back to the kids and get our program even better," Phillips said. 

Evidently, the extra training is paying off for Patrick Henry. So far this season, the team has won all four of its games. Captain and running back Newmann Thomas is leading the state in touchdowns.

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"One against Roosevelt was a 72-yard run," the senior said. "One against [Brooklyn Center] was an 80-yard run … It has been exhilarating."

"In the off season, I would have been eating unhealthy, doing whatever I wanted to do but he helped me stay totally committed," linebacker and fellow captain Rory Wyatt added.

The players say they've also noticed a positive difference in themselves off the field.

"[Phillips] helped me become like bigger in size and bigger as a person because we like go on the weekend to heal, workout with some other people from other schools," Wyatt said. "I've got straight As and football helped me focus on school."

"It improved us as like a brotherhood," Thomas added. "It helped us come together."

Friday at 6 p.m., Patrick Henry plays Harding-Humboldt High School in St. Paul. Both teams are undefeated.

Meanwhile, Phillips' business is growing. On Nov. 1, he's opening a Totally Committed Resource Center in Uptown. The center at 2909 Hennepin Ave. will include spaces not just for workouts but also financial literacy help and other resources.

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