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BEAST training covers speed, agility & life lessons: Former NFL wide receiver Damaris Johnson positively impacts youth

LAPLACE — Damaris Johnson’s journey to becoming a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans was full of life lessons, and he wants to instill the same positivity into the next generation of aspiring athletes.

Johnson, a Destrehan High School alumnus and resident of LaPlace, is offering speed and agility training to help children ages 6 to 18 make better choices on and off of the field.

BEASTtraining has five primary goals: improve Body control, develop Explosiveness, increase Agility, develop Strength and mental stamina, and develop Technique to boost talent.

Training is offered each hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Locations include the Destrehan Booster Club field, Thomas F. Daley Memorial Park off of Highway 51 in LaPlace, Monsanto Park in Luling and the St. Charles Parish West Bank Bridge Park.

Johnson said the program is more than just a training session; it provides a safe environment where kids can be themselves.

“I feel that I can help kids with the technique and the speed and the agility, but the main thing that I want kids to take from it is my mentorship,” Johnson said. “These kids have a lot going on. I want them to have a place where they can come for an hour a day, get some training, but also get some positivity poured into them.”

Johnson was a member of Destrehan High School’s 2007 state championship team. Being named state MVP of the championship game was a high point of his senior year.

He had a wide field of college options ahead of him, from the University of Minnesota to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He ultimately chose to pursue a scholarship to the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.

It was a much smaller school, and many were perplexed by the decision.

“There were even times where I wondered why, but it ended up being a perfect fit for me as far as the offense, the coaches and the support system,” Johnson said.

Johnson made the all-American list during his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. He didn’t play his senior season, and he wasn’t drafted, but it wasn’t the end of his football journey. Johnson reached the NFL as a free agent for the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played for two seasons.

He pushed forward and made his mark with the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans. God blessed him with opportunities, but it took a lot of hard work to make the most of each experience.

“I got to live out my dream of playing four years in the NFL, traveling and learning a lot of life lessons,” Johnson said. “I would like to let kids know that anybody could have a dream, but when it comes to playing in the NFL or the NBA, it’s actually a slight chance. You can prepare for it, and when that opportunity comes, try to take advantage of it.”

Dreaming big and taking the time to train can broaden a child’s future, even if they don’t make it to the professional level. Johnson said athleticism and mental strength could turn into a college scholarship and lay the foundation for a successful life.

“Getting a degree broadens horizons,” Johnson said. “I teach them to put their best foot forward because it will broaden your opportunities, and you never know who’s watching. The biggest thing is always doing your best and being hard on yourself even when no one is watching.”

For more information, contact Johnson at 504-579-2709.