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Photo by Diane Cox
U.S. Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee did the honors of cutting the ribbon Nov. 7 to announce Next Level Sports’ new location on Union Street in Alton.
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Photo by Diane Cox
Joyner-Kersee and Alton Mayor Brant Walker stand in front of the building on Union Street.
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Photo by Diane Cox
The ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Next Level to open in Alton
A 20,000-square-foot warehouse space at 900 Union St. in Alton is the new home of Next Level Sports Performance LLC. Owner E.J. Jones said the new facility will be open sometime in 2016 and will give underprivileged kids in the area an opportunity to channel their energy into a positive endeavor.
According to Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Alton is ready to go to the Next Level.
“(This will be) a place where young people can come, focus, set goals and work hard to make dreams a reality,” Joyner-Kersee told AdVantage News during a ribbon cutting Nov. 7 for the all-new Next Level Sports Performance location in Alton.
The 20,000-square-foot warehouse space at 900 Union St. is the new home of Next Level Sports Performance LLC. Owner E.J. Jones said the new facility will be open sometime in 2016 and will give underprivileged kids in the area an opportunity to channel their energy into a positive endeavor.
“Elijah P. Lovejoy paved a way for African-Americans to excel and succeed, and we think this is the right place and the right time to take that dream one step further,” Jones said. “This is an opportunity. We see scholarships, we see young people going on to college, getting their education paid for, then coming back and being productive citizens and leading successful lives.
“I think any time you have a tool such as sports that so many people are involved with worldwide, it is a tremendous advantage.”
Jones, who has trained athletes ranging from professional ranks to elementary-age children, trained and interned at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis. He opened the first Next Level Sports location in Collinsville in June 2015.
The Alton location is roughly three times the size of the Collinsville facility, allowing the freedom to expand the skills training area and increase the amount of equipment available.
“We want people to have a vision for what this can be,” he said. “There is nothing like this in the area. This will be the premier sports training facility in the Metro East, and it will bring people from across the river into Alton.”
City officials and community leaders were on hand for the ribbon-cutting.
“This is a tremendous day for the city of Alton,” Alton Mayor Brant Walker said during the ceremony. “The restoration of a building that has been neglected for a very long time … and things that will be brought to our community that we have not had for a long time and that our youth will be exposed to is absolutely phenomenal.”
Jones said there was “a lot of untapped potential in Alton,” and he is looking forward to playing a part in making untouched dreams come true.
“Through heightened training efforts and sports performance, athletes will dream bigger and reach higher than they ever have in this area,” he said. “Undoubtedly, athletes will have a great opportunity to go on, earn scholarships and live successful lives. We are very, very excited to be here in Alton and help bolster the inner city.”
Following the speakers, Joyner-Kersee, named the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated, cut the ribbon.
Before retiring in 2000, the East St. Louis native won three gold, one silver and two bronze Olympic medals, proving that drive and dedication can overcome limitations.
“We’d like to thank all of our supporters that have helped make this happen, and all of the parents and athletes who have chosen us to help them elevate their performance to the next level,” Jones said. “It is an honor to work with so many incredible people in the St. Louis Metro area.”
John Simmons of Alton, CEO and Chairman of the Simmons Hanly Conroy law firm, assisted Jones with securing the Alton location.
“Mr. Simmons, thank you for your support in helping us expand our mission into Alton,” Jones said.
The building is slated to be renovated and open for business sometime in 2016.
“The prospect of the city continuing to rejuvenate itself, and in a neighborhood that needs revitalization, is exciting,” Walker said after the ceremony. “This is going to be a tremendous boost for kids in the area who don’t have access to this type of training. It is wonderful all the way around, and the kids are going to love it.”
“I think the benefit is that it shows you have individuals who care,” Joyner-Kersee added. “This will be a place for kids, not only in this area, but from all around, to come and be able to work with some great people.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
AdVantage News will keep readers updated on the new venture. For more information, visit www.bnextlevel.com.
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