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My glory days: Stephon Kent, Atlantic City High School 2006

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher Stephon Kent gazes around the vast expanse inside Oceanside Wellness & Sport on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township and has to pinch himself. He’s just 26, and he now owns and operates the performance gym. But that kind of success is possible when you work hard, stay focused and go after your dreams with drive and determination. Those are all qualities he learned on the football field at Atlantic City High School. Kent was an outstanding fullback and linebacker for the Vikings, twice being named the team’s defensive MVP and also earning All-Cape-Atlantic League honors as a senior during the 2005 season. He went on to play two seasons at La Salle University before transferring to Rutgers, where he played two more seasons after sitting out a year as required by the NCAA. After college, Kent joined up with the Parisi Speed School, a training program started in 1992 by former All-American track star Bill Parisi which now has more than 75 franchises and trains more than 600,000 athletes. “When I went to the Parisi Speed School I learned a lot and started training kids. We have a lot of football players in the area, like Taalib Gerald and all the Holy Spirit guys. It’s just been a domino effect. I had fun doing it and now I own Oceanside,” Kent said. Stephon Kent, 26, a 2006 graduate of Atlantic City High School, recently took over as owner of Oceanside Wellness & Sport in Egg Harbor Township. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O'Sullivan) Stephon Kent, 26, a 2006 graduate of Atlantic City High School, recently took over as owner of Oceanside Wellness & Sport in Egg Harbor Township. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan) Kent said having an athletic background has really helped him as a young business owner. He held a grand re-opening a few weeks ago and has been working hard to implement his vision for where Oceanside will go in the future. “The passion, the energy, the drive. I’m excited about what I’m doing because it all corresponds to sports. It makes me feel like I’m playing again. Every day I come in and it feels like I’m strapping the helmet on again,” Kent said. “I really want to help people with different aspects of training, diving in on nutrition and how to control their bodies as athletes. And also educating parents on the recruiting process. They don’t know a lot about how to get recruited and when to start the recruiting process.” Kent said the things he learned as a young athlete are still paying dividends today. Taking over a business is never an easy thing and there are a million things he has to think about, but he said even when things get difficult that old football mantra of “don’t quit” is pulsating through his brain. “I always had to work really hard to get amazing results. I take that here with the Parisi Speed School and try to teach kids to train really hard and never quit,” Kent said. “That’s always been instilled in me and that has helped me a whole lot. You can take that into business as well. Work hard, stay humble and never quit, and you’ll get amazing results.” At Atlantic City High, the 2006 graduate said he strived early on to become a Division I player and believed he could achieve that dream. “Every kid thinks they are going to go Division I. I wanted to go Division I and I wanted to do whatever it took,” Kent said. “I knew if I worked hard I would have a good shot.” Kent said the biggest difference he sees now compared to when he was in high school is the intensity of the recruiting process and how much more advanced it is, and he tries to get high school athletes he trains to realize just how much competition is out there. “As far as video-wise, it’s so much more advanced. You have to be extra special with your highlight tapes and your portfolio to really stand out,” Kent said. “You have to have a really good coach who is going to sell you and you have to sell yourself in order to make it out of this area. That’s one of the biggest things is the exposure. Schools like Don Bosco get a lot more exposure than schools in this area.” There’s probably tape of Kent’s biggest highlight from high school floating around somewhere. It came late in his senior season against Mainland. Atlantic City held a lead and needed a first down to clinch the game, and a long awaited win over the Mustangs. “I’ll never forget beating Mainland after 10 years of not being able to beat them. It was a great experience. It was fourth down, two yards to go at the 20. My coach called a timeout and said, ‘can you do it?’ And I said, ‘give me the ball.’ I took the ball down to the 5-yard line. Game over,” Kent said. “It was on their home turf, playoffs on the line, fourth down. It was a perfect situation.” Kent said after the glory of his high school days, college football was a whole different experience. Football was more like a job than an after-school activity. “The biggest difference is film. You get a packet every week, game-planning, scouting reports. Digesting 50 plays in three days, and then on top of that your college work,” Kent said. “And your parents aren’t around so you really have to buckle down on your school work and football. It’s like a professional career while you’re in college.” Now that his competitive athletic career is over, Kent said he is hoping he can pass along some of his knowledge to current high school athletes and help them become the best they can be. “I’ve always been focused on a mission and a goal. That is what has always pulled me in the right direction,” Kent said. “The Parisi Speed School, they know what they are doing. We focus on nutrition, self discipline. That’s very big in our program. We want kids to be able to perform, not just from a sports performance perspective, but from a mental perspective.” Even though Kent has been out of high school for less than 10 years, he has some perspective on the journey he has taken since leaving the halls of Atlantic City High School. “It’s been a wonderful experience to see the transition from high school to college, and now being an owner of a major facility in the public,” Kent said. “I’ve had a lot of adversity and challenges. My dream was to be in the NFL, but now my dream is to put people in the NFL. “Life is hard and it’s a struggle sometimes. If I didn’t go through the struggles with football, I wouldn’t be able to go through the struggles of a lot of things. High school football helped me with mental toughness, dedication and becoming proficient at a craft. At the end of the day it’s hard work and wanting to master what you love to do.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays

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