Mike Atkinson is no stranger to basketball. The Galena high graduate has played collegiately and professionally. Now, he's training the next generation of basketball stars - specifically, those at the University of Nevada.
"The relationship with the Wolf Pack - Emily is local, Olek and Keith Fuetsch are local, as well," said Atkinson. "We are also starting to get some of their teammates in here. They want to get better on their own."
Atkinson is the basketball performance director at Sierra Strength and Speed in Reno. He's seen an increase in players wanting to better themselves at his "dojo." One of them is current Wolf Pack women's basketball forward Emily Burns.
"Over summer, right now, we don't have a lot of time to work in the gym about basketball specifically, so coming here gives me a chance to shoot around a work on different moves and situations that i might see."
Former Wolf Pack forward Olek Czyz credits Sierra Strength and Speed with helping him become the player he is today.
"I feel like I became more agile," said Czyz. "And also, I became more versatile."
It has helped Czyz land a spot on the Chicago Bulls NBA summer league team.
Atkinson says his program isn't just for college and professional players. It's for anyone who has a passion for the game.
"I want the ones who are more serious about basketball, that have a long-term goal, whether it's making the JV team as a freshman, but they are serious about it. Or, if it's someone like Olek trying to make the NBA."
One of them is E.J. Poulsen of Galena high school.
"When you come in to do your work and you see athletes on a higher level, like Olek, it just inspires you," said Poulsen. "If you do the things that he did, there is a potential to reach the same level that he did."
Even former Pack athletes tend to make an appearance.
"Big David Wood is a client of mine and he is 48," said Atkinson. "We just increased his vertical three inches in the last 12 weeks. He just did a 360 at the Damonte camp, and he was pretty proud of that. so, at 48 years old, he's ready to make a comeback into the NBA."
Those interested in working out at Sierra Strength and Speed can find out more information at http://sierrastrength.com. Or contact Mike Atkinson at 775-342-7333.