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KM Group Journalist Alex Hoad is in the final stages of preparation for the NFL Regional Combine in NYC as news of his quest spreads round the globe

30 January 2014
by Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

In two weeks’ time I will be in New York City going through my final preparations for the NFL Regional Combine – a kind of audition in front of talent evaluators who could choose to send me on a pro path to sporting glory or send me back to Blighty with my tail between my legs.

In the six-weeks leading up to my date with destiny, I’ve been bringing you up to speed on the sport’s presence in Kent and the skills needed to catch the eye in NYC. Here’s the latest update.   

In the past week, websites on both sides of the pond have picked up on my unusual quest, running good-natured stories, which have led to more than 50 new twitter followers – @alinthenfl if you’re wondering – and some follow-up interest from other media outlets.

I’ve had a radio station show interest, the NFL UK magazine approach me for an interview and on Thursday a call from Stephen Austin, the director of NFL Regional Combines himself.

It seems I am the only international ‘athlete’ who is preparing for one of these combines, and as such he’s keen to use my story to promote the event. From my point of view, if I can spread the word of a fantastic sport to a few more people then great.

The only cloud on Mr Austin’s horizon was my confirmation that I was born during the Ronald Reagan administration – it seemed any hopes he had of me being a First Round draft pick floated out of the window of his California office.

We had a good chat anyway and he told me: “Having read your stories, and seen your training pictures, it’s clear that you have business being on the field.

“You have the size but we’ll have to look at the speed, change-of-direction and hands when you’re here. Keep working hard. We’re looking forward to seeing what you can do.”

I’ve also had some helpful advice from a couple of Kent Olympians as a lot of what I’ll do playing the Tight End position in American football involves running fast and jumping high.

Hythe hurdler Jack Green, who reached the semi-finals of the 400mH at London 2012, said: “First you’ve got to be agile, then bring some hurdles in for plyometrics. If you want to run a quick 40-yard-dash, that will help.”

World Championship 200m finalist Adam Gemili has also provided some valuable advice on health and nutrition, not least how to get one of the most vital things to any sportsman – sleep.

Working full-time and training something like 15 hours a week on top of that for the past few months takes its toll, however Gemili, from Dartford, shared his secret for sleeping like a baby – magnesium.

It turns out the mineral plays an important role in hydration, muscle relaxation, energy production and, crucially for sleep, the deactivation of adrenaline.

Insufficient stores of magnesium mean shallow and interrupted sleep and trouble dropping-off. Now I have a spray which I apply before bed and it’s made a big difference. A good kip makes everything easier.

With less than two weeks until I fly out, I have been getting some tuition on one of the most important aspects of my training this week.... speed. More on that next week.

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