Former NFL player David Klemic
Whenever a football coach, on whatever level, has a player that can run really fast, eventually he will use the quote, “You can’t teach speed.”
Well, David Klemic thinks you can and has been doing just that for the past 17 years.
Klemic, a Somers Point native, who starred at Mainland High School and Northeastern University before a short stint with the Kansas City Chiefs that ended prematurely because of injury, was always fast.
He ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the 2001 NFL Scouting Combine, which was the fastest that year and still ranks among the top 10 fastest of all time.
He beat his one-time teammate Dante Hall in the Chiefs’ “Fastest Man Competition” during his rookie 2001 NFL season.
And now, among other sports performance enhancement he does with a group of well-known and respected doctors in the area, he helps athletes run faster.
“People always asked me ‘What do you do to run that fast?’” Klemic said.
That question, along with that world-class speed, convinced Klemic to start camps first for high school athletes looking to get faster and quicker to play at the college level.
But it’s grown from that to two businesses, in Northfield, N.J. and Collegeville, Pa., called Athletes Arbour and now to a third business, The Energy Lab, that was scheduled to open this fall in Pitman, N.J.
Klemic and his staff, which includes Drs. Brad Bernardini, John Gray, Jim McCrossin and Nate Holmes, don’t just work with high school athletes. They work with NFL players and NHL players and world-class track stars and swimmers. And they are not just helping them get faster, they are helping them recover from injury and getting back to their sport better than ever.
“I started a speed and agility clinic back home (in South Jersey) with my old high school trainer my first year with the Chiefs,” Klemic said. “We had hundreds of kids show up. Every year it got more and more popular. We did it every year and it got bigger and bigger. So, when I retired I opened a business.
“I knew it would be a good business and it is.”
Klemic doesn’t lack confidence. He had it as a player and he has it as a businessman. It’s part of what made him successful at both.
Ask him about his race with Hall, the former Chiefs star.
“Me and Dante Hall had two fastest 40 times going in, so we raced,” Klemic said of the “Fastest Man Competition that ran across the NFL that year. “It was on live TV in Kansas City. They made a big deal of it. And I won. That became a real big deal around Kansas City. I got to do all kinds of advertisements and commercials because of that.”
Did he think he would win?
“I knew I was going to win,” he said.
Klemic was a two-sport star at Mainland, also winning state titles in track and field. He picked Northeastern over other schools because they allowed him to do both spots on the college level.
On the football field, he caught 217 passes for 3,419 yards and 41 touchdowns in his four-year career. The 41 touchdown receptions, at the time, were the second most in history to a guy named Jerry Rice, who caught 49. In track, he won eight conference championships.
“I come from a track family,” Klemic said. “So, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in college—track or football. (Northeastern) let me do both.
“I actually lit it up in college. I lit it up for a kid who wasn’t supposed to be that good.”
Klemic’s speed, he says, was more acceleration.
“I wasn’t a world-class sprinter. I was a world-class accelerator,” he said. “The first part of my run was world-class speed; the second part was just OK. I was never going to be in the Olympics (for the 100), but I could beat anybody at 40-50 yards, even Olympians.”
Kansas City signed him as a free agent, but a fractured right leg robbed him of his speed and essentially his football career.
“It basically snapped in half and ended my career,” Klemic said.
“It really didn’t end my career,” he quickly corrects himself. “I came back two years later, re-signed with Chiefs, made it through camp right till the final cuts. Coach (Dick) Vermeil sat me down and told me I probably should have taken another year off. He also told me if there was ever anything he could do for me, just ask. And he has helped me a lot. He kept to his word.”
Klemic’s road to the NFL, along with that career-ending injury, is what helped him and inspired him in the business world.
“The whole thing with me was always ‘surprises’. It surprised everyone, but it didn’t really surprise me,” he said. “I always looked across at everyone and said ‘What can they do that I can’t do?’ My key was I was going to work harder, and I’ll get an edge from that. If I work harder and I’m faster, maybe I didn’t go to Florida State, or somewhere like that, but we’re going to show up at the same place and have to impress these coaches. It all evens out when you get there.”
And the injury, while difficult for any athlete to accept, gave Klemic the idea for his latest business.
“The recovery process was a soul searching process,” he said. “I was always an anomaly because I was the white guy who ran fast, that was always attached to me. I was doing what everyone told me to do. Ice, no heat, acupuncture, don’t ice, hydrotherapy, there were so many different things and I did them all. It became counter-intuitive.
“I vowed that someday if I could ever meet the right guys I would put together a business where we do the sports performance that I do, with the orthopedic and the physical therapists and athletic trainers and we would all be on the same page.”
Welcome to The Energy Lab.
“There’s nothing that has the capabilities like this,” Klemic said. “When I broke my leg, I’m trying to recover to get back on the field and I need strong communication between my doctor, the physical therapist, athletic trainer, my coaches. This was an NFL team and there was little communication between everyone.”
So, with his team of physicians, and the knowledge he picked up working out at the Chip Smith Performance Systems in Atlanta, Klemic’s business took off.
“In physical therapy, you never get back to 100 percent, you might get back to 80,” Klemic said. “And if you’re not an athlete that’s fine. At The Energy Lab, we get you back to 100 percent.”
And he’s still helping young athletes run faster.
“There’s a formula that we used at the Combine to decrease ground time and increase stride length and frequency,” Klemic said. “If they do it at the Combine why not use it everywhere?
“Within a 3-month period, if a kid runs a 4.5 if he did what we told him, he can drop a tenth of a second, to a 4.4.”
Klemic and his team aren’t just making kids faster, which is interesting enough, he’s changing the way the game has been played.
“I know this is the future of how medicine is run and how sports performance is going to be run,” he said. “I really put all my time and energy into the lab, because it’s the way of the future.
“We’re in that world now. When we first started 17 years ago, it was only the crazy parent or the pro athlete who did sports performance enhancement. Now you’re crazy if you don’t do it.”