Meet the athletes selected for The Workout 2021
Eight of the country’s top high school athletes learned how to train their bodies, minds, and crafts for a successful and sustainable future in sport
As the opportunities for amateur athletes continue to grow both in and out of competition, so too does this group’s need for support as it navigates sports’ changing circumstances. That’s why Under Armour recently launched The Workout, an immersive athlete development experience aimed at providing young, elite athletes with the guidance and tools they need to be successful today and at the next level of play.
In July, eight of the best high school athletes from a variety of sports traveled to Under Armour’s Human Performance Center in Portland, Oregon, for four days full of instruction and activities on everything from training and recovery to personal branding. The athletes walked away from The Workout with new resources and relationships that will help set them up for their athletic careers.
Meet The Workout’s 2021 participants below, and catch the athletes’ full experience with Under Armour in an ESPNU special airing Wednesday, September 1, at 8 p.m. EST.
Offensive tackle Tyler Booker describes his style of play in one word: nasty. The 6-foot-5, 300 pounder from New Haven, Connecticut, spent three years honing his skills at IMG Academy before recently committing to the University of Alabama as ESPN’s top-ranked offensive tackle in the class of 2022. While Crimson Tide fans can count on Booker to bring his explosive physicality and powerful mental strength to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, next fall, he may also exhibit a few new techniques picked up from his peers in Portland.
“The thing I’ll remember most is the people I’ve been around, just taking things from each athlete,” Booker said of his experience with Under Armour. “Everybody did something different that I love…and I can add that to my game.”
Off the field, Booker also intends to put The Workout’s personal branding lessons to good use.
“I feel very passionate about things like social injustice and what’s going on with the African-American community,” he said. “The more I improve my platform as an athlete, the more I’ll be able to improve my platform as a social justice advocate and help create change for my community.”
KK Bransford knows what it takes to be successful on the basketball court. As the 5-foot-10 guard enters her senior year at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, she does so as 2021 Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year, 2021 Ms. Ohio Basketball, and 14th overall in the espnW100 for the class of 2022. Nonetheless, Bransford arrived in Portland ready to learn.
“I feel like being around the different athletes will help me a lot — seeing how they move, how they think,” she said in the weeks before The Workout. “They’re going to have so much of their own knowledge, and I just want to soak all of that up.”
Bransford aims to use the insights she’s gleaned from her experience with Under Armour to not only advance her own game, but the game of women’s basketball at large.
“People are starting to notice the WNBA and watch those games, and it’s long overdue,” she said. “Being a woman's basketball player, you have a voice and you have a platform, so I just want to be able to make an impact.”
While most high school juniors have just begun to consider their college plans, Tallen Edwards of Southmoore High School, in Moore, Oklahoma, has known hers for years. After exhibiting exceptional athletic talent at an early age, Edwards committed to playing softball for the University of Missouri at 12 years old. But this summer, the shortstop still left The Workout with some new training techniques to complement her natural skills.
“I thought I was prepared with my training that I do at home, but when I came [to Portland] and did the training that Under Armour does, it was a lot different,” she said.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Edwards took on The Workout with the same optimism and determination as she does navigating life with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.
“Alopecia has shaped me into the athlete I am today in such an amazing way,” she said. “I see that I’m unstoppable.”
Though experts predict outfielder Elijah Green will be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, the Windermere, Florida, native will be the second in his family to play professional sports — Elijah’s father, Eric, spent 10 seasons in the NFL and was a two-time Pro-Bowl selection for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As Elijah enters his senior year at IMG Academy with plans to play for the University of Miami after graduation, he sees his father’s accomplishments as a blessing, not a burden.
“My relationship with my dad is amazing,” he said. “I really don't mind the pressure because I'm taking my own path to this baseball career…I just go out there and play my own game.”
Green’s game includes as much mental strength as it does physical strength, two areas on which The Workout focused.
“In baseball, you fail 70% of the time,” he said. “I can't get a hit every time, I can’t hit home run every time, so I just have to continue to keep working and keep pushing through the slumps and the bad times and know good times are coming soon.”
When Amanda Mack moved from California to Maryville, Tennessee, last year, she faced the challenges of adjusting to a new town, a new school, and a new volleyball team amidst a pandemic. But the 6-foot-1 outside hitter didn’t let any of that hold her back from bringing her best to the court, helping the Maryville High School Lady Rebels secure district and regional titles before moving on to the state tournament for the first time in nearly 40 years and taking home the first state tournament win in program history.
“I see setbacks as opportunities because they push me to work harder,” she said. “I took it as a challenge.”
As the youngest athlete at The Workout, Mack appreciated the opportunity to begin her personal branding journey early in her career, knowing few young athletes get to participate in the same on- and off-court experiences that she has.
“It’s really cool to work with the different Under Armour creators because I’ve never done something like this,” she said. “It [was] an honor.”
McCabe Millon grew up on lacrosse. As son to the sole husband and wife duo in the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and a native of Maryland — one of the country’s biggest lacrosse hubs — he quickly became immersed in the game. But Millon knows that few are as familiar with lacrosse as he is, so he aims to use his growing platform and the guidance he received from The Workout’s branding workshops to be an ambassador for the game.
“It [was] so fascinating being able to learn about the intricacies of brand building,” he said. “The importance of your own logo and what you should include, creating your own motto — it has really been an eye-opening experience.”
The National Lacrosse Federation ranks Millon, who plays attack, as the No. 1 player in the class of 2023. After The Workout, however, Millon, says he is just getting started.
“Learning how to master flexibility, how to master mobility, how to master strength, power, speed — it’s just so inspiring to know how much better you can get.”
Many know Isa Torres for her talents on the lacrosse field, where she frequently dominates draws — a head-to-head faceoff for possession of the ball — with intimidating aggression and a keen awareness of her opponent’s next move. But some would be surprised to learn that she has honed these skills in the rink, practicing draws on skates as a member of her high school’s varsity boy’s ice hockey team. Though Torres favors lacrosse, she appreciates how hockey gives her the opportunity to continue to learn and grow.
“Going from an environment where I feel like I try to control what’s going on to an environment where I have no control and I’m uncomfortable, I think that’s something you need in life. You need the extra challenge,” she said. “You need something that you know you’re not good enough at and you’re still learning. I’m glad that I get to experience that because it definitely changes the way that I think about a lot of stuff in life.”
Torres’ enthusiasm and open mind served her well at The Workout, as she came away with insights that can inform her future training.
“I [learned] so much about myself — the way I train, the way I should train,” she said. “I’m learning all of the things I’m doing wrong that I thought I was doing right, and it’s saving us from injuries and using muscles that we didn’t use before.”
As ESPN’s No. 14-ranked basketball player in the class of 2022, Jarace Walker regularly participates in exclusive camps and invitationals, like the USA Basketball Junior National Minicamp. When competing, he makes it a priority to learn from his opponents, driven by a constant desire to improve. Going into The Workout, Walker assumed the same mindset.
“I'm really excited to meet the top athletes in the country from across different sports,” he said before arriving in Portland. “I might be athletically gifted in one way, but there might be a girl that might be stronger than me in another way that plays lacrosse, or something like that, so I’m interested in seeing how we use our bodies differently in each sport that we all play.”
While the 6-foot-8 “positionless” hoops star did participate in performance assessments and contests, he also found value in The Workout’s personal branding experiences that provided him with the tools to build on his existing presence.
“We [designed] shoes, our motto, our logo — just continuing to grow our brand and our name, image, and likeness.”