VOORHEES — South Jersey athletes aspiring to achieve future success have been taking their talents to Nexxt Level Sports (NLS) since its inception in 2005.
But what makes the company’s massive Voorhees complex so appealing to its members?
Inside the building lies an athlete’s haven: Two full basketball courts – one NBA length, the other high school length; a batting cage that extends to 70 feet located near the complex’s pitching tunnels; a 2,100-square foot turf area; a 60-yard indoor turf field; a high-performance training weight room; as well as yoga and massage therapy studios are among the specifics that stand out among the facility’s features.
It’s no wonder why so many athletes have seen improvements in their games. There’s a reason NLS has trained athletes who have gone on to incredible success at the professional ranks, such as football standouts Donovan McNabb and Glassboro High graduate Gary Brackett as well as local pro basketball stars Tyreke Evans, Hakim Warrick and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Somerdale native).
While brothers Omar (a Bishop Eustace graduate and point guard at Sacred Heart University from 2000-04) and Salim Wellington (a wide receiver at the University of Rhode Island from 1998-2000 who graduated from Cherry Hill East), are enjoying the successes of their business, getting there was certainly no easy task. It’s been an eight-year voyage.
Before taking over The Coliseum in Voorhees in 2008, NLS originally called the Cherry Hill Racquet Club their home.
“Our training numbers were growing,” said Omar Wellington. “As our training became more popular we needed more space. We got to a point where we had to make a decision and the decision was do we want to continue growing.”
The brothers decided to go make a strategic move – a decision that would dramatically alter the company’s future. At first, the new move was challenging.
“When we came to The Coliseum, the whole place was empty,” noted Omar Wellington. “It was in pretty bad condition. So we came in and leased 22,000 sq. ft. We had about 50 clients at the time (on the first day). It was a risk, but it was worth it, we now train thousands of athletes.”
Then came 2012: a bittersweet year for the company. On one hand, business was on the rise. On the other, tragic losses left the brothers in a mourning stage.
In January, we lost our father suddenly,” said Omar Wellington. “That was a serious blow. In September, we lost our business partner Gerry Browne. Both my dad and Gerry were very influential to our growth as a company and as young business owners. 2012 was a challenging year for us but we had to stay focused on the vision. We felt we owed that to my dad, Gerry, our staff and our athletes”
Browne was a major player in the business’ growth. Back when the company was deciding on whether or not to leave its original home, Omar met Browne who was coaching the middle school boys’ basketball program at Sacred Heart (Camden) and helped train all of Browne’s players. Omar and Salim partnered with Browne and the business began its ascension. Having been such an integral part in their plan, his loss was deeply felt. The Wellington brothers, Cherry Hill natives, knew they had to continue down the path their father, Al, and Browne led them.
“We looked at things and kind of regrouped,” recalled Omar Wellington. “One of the decisions we had to make was whether or not to move forward with plans to purchase the entire building. We decided acquiring the entire complex was our best option to grow while fulfilling our vision for the company.”
With the whole building under their control now, the Nexxt Level Coliseum has a blueprint that is sure to take the company to new heights.
There are plans to change the entire landscape into a campus, providing the athletes with an atmosphere resembling a Division I college experience. The new additions will include a brand-new entrance, a cafe, a re-done banquet hall and a general facelift to the building. There are also two new swimming pools being installed that will be ready by May.
“It will be the region’s premiere state-of-the-art competitive swimming pool,” said Omar Wellington.
More site plans include a multi-purpose field for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse. They also are seeking to build another soccer field on the block. Currently, that portion of the property is wooded.
“A percentage of every dollar spent on campus is used to support the charitable work of our Nexxt Level Foundation,” said Omar Wellington.
The purpose of creating an entire campus featuring health and fitness features is to give athletes a place to grow, develop and realize their full potential. All of this goes back to the company’s focus of improving yourself, celebrating life and paying it forward.
The Nexxt Level Foundation (found online at www.nexxtlevelfoundation.org) consists of three programs that are all designed to suit the paying it forward principle: the I Can Initiative, the Special Olympics and the Next Generation Network. These are the fabric of the company and the approach that all the athletes take to live life to the fullest.
“Our mindset as a company is what sets us apart from other training facilities,” explained chief operating officer Mike Lynch. “A lot of companies will talk to you about what they do, what they have to offer, but here it’s about why we exist. We provide opportunities for our athletes, members and staff to live life to the fullest by improving themselves, celebrating life and paying it forward. That’s what makes Nexxt Level Coliseum different than anybody else. It’s not an advertisement or a marketing plan, it’s in the fabric of who we are – it’s a movement.”
For more information about Nexxt Level Sports, visit its website at www.nexxtlevelsports.com.