Mike Edem, 6 year veteran of the CFL and former Calgary Dinos player, only started playing football in grade 11. “All the kids in the neighbourhood played football except for me, I played soccer. So that summer I decided to tag along to football practice and the rest is history,” says Mike.
Success came quickly to Mike, early in his university career he won the defensive player of the year award, then he was drafted 3rd overall, and once he turned pro, he was nominated for Rookie of the Year and Top Canadian for the Montreal Alouettes. Now a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Mike remains very passionate about football stating that “it’s the ultimate team sport. I love the art of competing against an opponent and literally trying to take his will away.”
Last year after completing his second off-season training at AF, Mike produced a career high season for defensive tackles. Recently re-signed by the Roughriders, crediting his versatility due to his size and speed. “Many athletes struggle with improving both size and speed, this is something we do especially well at AF because of our very different approach to coordination in both strength and speed training," explains Director Paul Balsom.
Mike enjoys his off-seasons with AF and the structure and focus provided. “The Athlete Factory has helped me. In the past three years, I can proudly say that I have only missed maybe 5-6 games in the past three CFL seasons.” AF is working with Mike to help him achieve his goals, both winning the Grey Cup, and having much sought after longevity in the sport. “Playing 10 years has always been my long term goal in the pros, but if I can reach a level only a few have gone playing 13-15 years, that would be awesome!” he states.
Mike's Performance Coach Nick Gies explains how after a long in-season, a football player's body is pretty beat up. The first few weeks back training focus on developing a good base to build off of in the later parts of the off-season. "We started with basic movement patterns and building up sprint and jump volumes. Once Mike's aches and pains came down, we started ramping up the sprint work, specifically his initial acceleration," explains Nick. "This consisted of improving the activation and sequencing of his hamstrings for more explosive hip and knee extension. As a fast athlete over long distances, Mike needed more of a focus on the shorter distances, his first 3 steps. We spent the majority of the time focusing on how much power he could apply over the first few meters of a sprint, which better complimented what he was already good at in the longer sprints." Aerobic capacity is something needed even in power speed sports, because the ability to recover faster between bouts of high-intensity running is key. Thus the early part of the off-season also focused on building an aerobic base through tempo runs which serve as aerobic conditioning, but also help to improve running technique, making an athlete more efficient and waste less energy while sprinting. "Now that a proper base has been established, the program is going to intensify and include more speed sessions and a focus on how quickly Mike can produce force. This will set Mike up to be the fastest and most powerful he has ever been this coming season," says Nick.
When asked about what advice he has for young football players, Mike talks about the importance of goal setting, saying that "Having a big goal can sometimes seem scary, but breaking it down into little daily attainable goals that can be accomplished on a daily basis, can be very encouraging to a young athlete and also motivate them.”