Husband and wife, Ed and Mari Halstead know a thing or two about preparing young athletes to succeed in both sports and life. They founded Socal-based EM Speed & Power back in 2006, which has helped over 50,000 athletes become more explosive, faster, stronger, and more injury-resistant. EM trained ballplayers have gone on to play for all 30 Major League Baseball organizations and nearly every top D1 college program imageable – not to mention training athletes from the NFL, MLS, NHL, and Olympians of numerous sports.
However, the fruits of this power couple’s training methodologies can also be exemplified in two of their children. Their daughter, Paige, is a current professional softball player who helped lead UCLA to a 2019 National Championship as their starting catcher. She also represented Team USA Softball and has become a popular online inspiration for female athletes worldwide. And, their son, Ryan, is a star prospect pitcher in the San Francisco Giants organization. The Halsteads have now taken their expertise for molding and guiding amazing athletes to the next level with a new type of charter program.
EM Academics is a 6th-12th grade program that joins accredited academic curriculums with elite sports performance training as an alternative to traditional schools. Students learn from credentialed educators both in-person and online every day. Meeting hours are the same as a conventional school, with early dropoff and after-class activity options (like coding and robotics).
The student body also works with collegiate-qualified strength and conditioning coaches, professional experts in their chosen sport, and a nutritionist to accelerate their athletic development. EM Academics’ two primary campuses welcome students of all sports and athletic endeavors through their Rancho Cucamonga and Long Beach doors.
The Halsteads and their partners have crafted a program for and around the unique lives of competitive athletes — whose dynamic needs cannot often be met in traditional schools. Some features, like the program’s performance-optimized meal-prep options, yoga sessions, mental skill workshops, and utilizing local fields and courts for student practices, are rather obvious when talking about a school for serious athletes. But other benefits are less evident for those outside of the sports parent ecosystem.
For example, in traditional schools, such parents and athletes often have their weekly family time, which is shortened already by training and travel commitments, stolen completely by a nightly barrage of homework assignments.
Besides taking away the ability to spend family time together, such stress-inducing and sleep-depriving homework loads can actually hurt an athlete’s performance and development. And if an athlete is traveling with a club team to a week-long tournament (which happens throughout the year), such assignments can mount until student-athletes feel it’s impossible to catch up. With EM Academics, school work is done at school with eager and knowledgeable educators, and there’s no class on Fridays, allowing sports families to reconnect.
With the program entering its third year this fall, over 500 such families have already switched from traditional schools to EM Academics. But this revolution is just getting started.