BATAVIA – Cubs outfielder David DeJesus followed an indirect path to becoming part of the “Train Insane” faithful at ProForce Sports Performance Training, but these days he walks through the front door like anyone else.
DeJesus goes by “Dave” when he’s with owner Chris Browning and the rest of his clientele, and those pleasantries won’t change once he reports to spring training in Mesa, Ariz., next month.
Earlier this week, as temperatures hovered in single digits, DeJesus again navigated his SUV from his offseason home in Wheaton to the ProForce facility. He hardly blushed at the cold during his short walk to the building, where he unleashed similarly fluid movements for a third straight offseason.
“The things that you do here make you more explosive on the field, keep your body strong throughout a season and just give you confidence to go out there and play the game,” DeJesus said. “You know that your body is ready and ready for competition.”
DeJesus learned of ProForce through Atlanta Braves minor league outfielder Dan Brewer, a Lyons Township graduate whose mother was living in Batavia when the New York Yankees drafted him in 2008.
Brewer’s stepsister once trained with Browning before he started ProForce, which eventually led Brewer back to Batavia. He brought DeJesus along later. The two met through DeJesus’ former Kansas City Royals teammate, Chris Getz, while hitting at an offseason facility in Broadview earlier this decade.
Brewer heard DeJesus – entering his second season with the Cubs – had been training in Chicago and suggested he try ProForce, if only for the shorter commute. DeJesus quickly took to the gym’s emphasis on core strength and mix of old-school disciplines with newer strength training methods.
He’s been gladly blending in for the past 2 1/2 years.
“The nice thing about Dave is he doesn’t present himself as a big league baseball player who’s let a lot of the stuff go to his head,” Brewer said. “He’s a down-to-earth guy. Me being a guy who’s still working my way up, you know, I still have to work for everything I can get. But Dave’s been in the league for nine years or so now, and he still works his tail off, day in and day out. He knows that to stay there, you’ve got to still work hard. It’s nice that the kids get to come in and see him do that.”
Browning and his staff train their share of high school athletes preparing for college, as well as a budding crop of collegians and professionals.
A handful of players from Northern Illinois’ recent Orange Bowl football team – including Perez Ashford, Tyrone Clark and Demetrius Stone – come in for NFL combine-specific training.
Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Patrick Brown (St. Charles North) and Atlanta Falcons practice squad linebacker Pat Schiller (Geneva) are longtime ProForce guys who make the gym a regular offseason stop. Ditto for Mike Garrity (Batavia), an offensive lineman with the Iowa Barnstormers of arena football.
“We get after it, man,” said Browning, who was among the guests at a recent function for DeJesus’ Family Foundation. “We get it going.”
The enthusiasm can be contagious, as DeJesus can attest.
With ProForce partner Innovative Sports Medicine sharing space at 501 W. Fabyan Parkway, DeJesus calls the complex a “one-stop shop” for athletes looking to get stronger, in-season or not.
He hoped to show Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo the workout ropes before last weekend’s Cubs Convention, but was unable to find a mutual opening.
As the Cubs say, maybe next year. DeJesus, for one, doesn’t plan on losing his way.
“Little by little, this place is getting known, you know,” he said. “When you keep putting up guys who produce on the field, it’s a testament to something. It’s a testament to [Browning] and the guys he brings into the place, they know what they’re doing. They cover all the aspects.”
Davison commits to N’western soccer: Geneva sophomore Hannah Davison verbally committed to the Northwestern women’s soccer team over the weekend, ending any college recruiting courtship before it truly could gain steam.
“I’m really humbled, actually,” Davison said. “I can’t believe that even at a young age they’d be so interested in someone.”
A playing career that began with her father, Steve, as her rec league team coach and “snowballed” with exposure when Davison moved to the Oak Brook-based Eclipse Select Soccer Club will continue in the Big Ten. Davison, a defender for the U.S. U15 girls national team last season, called the tough-but-fair coaching style of the Wildcats staff a top draw.
She also found Northwestern’s academic reputation was ahead of other suitors, including Boston University, Brown, Kentucky, Michigan and UCLA.
“It’s really relieving that I don’t have to worry about stressing over that [decision] anymore,” Davison said. “Now I can finish playing the last two seasons with my club. Worry about hopefully ... winning a national championship and not worry about where I’m going.”
Davison, who does not compete for Geneva during the spring, joined the track team last season and qualified for the 3A state meet in the triple jump. Also a sprinter, she is balancing winter track workouts with Eclipse practices and tournaments.
The fourth of five athletic siblings, Davison is the younger sister of 2010 Geneva alumnus Stephanie Davison, a junior defender at Regis (Colo.).
Davison will miss St. Charles North product KK Barr at Northwestern by one year. Barr, a sophomore forward, assisted on Northwestern’s first goal of the season in August, notching her first collegiate point.
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or email@example.com.