Former Alabama quarterback Blake Sims, Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran and Olympic gold medal gymnast Nastia Liukin are scheduled to speak at the Sports Champions Expo in Hoover this Saturday.
The three are expected to share their stories and talk about how athletics has helped shape their lives, said Ryan Romano, one of the organizers of the event, which is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Romano and Mike McCoy, owners of The Warehouse Performance Institute sports training company, are putting on the expo to help encourage kids to get active and avoid the obesity, depression and anxiety that sometimes come from inactivity, Romano said.
Liukin is scheduled to speak from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and sign autographs from 11 a.m. to noon, while Sims will speak from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. and sign autographs from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Cochran will close out the day with a speech from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. and autograph session from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.
Liukin in 2008 won the all-around Olympic gold medal, the silver medal on the balance beam and uneven bars and the bronze medal for her floor routine, helping propel the U.S. women’s team to a silver team medal. She also won nine World medals. Since retiring as a gymnast, she has been a TV commentator and embarked on several business ventures, including modeling and launching her own signature lines of apparel and sports equipment.
Sims led the Crimson Tide to an SEC title and to the College Football Playoff semifinals in 2014 and threw a team record 3,487 yards in a single season. He spent some time in the Canadian Football League and Australia’s National Gridiron League in 2015 and 2016 and worked with the practice squads for the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016. He signed a reserve/future contract with the Buccaneers in January, according to buccaneers.com.
Cochran, best known for his booming voice and high energy on the Alabama football sideline, is the University of Alabama’s assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning. He has been on coach Nick Saban’s staff for five national titles, including one at LSU, and is a two-time national strength coach of the year.
In addition to hearing the three speakers, kids and parents will have a chance to interact with sports-related exhibitors and participate in exercise activities and contests, Romano said.
Exhibitors scheduled to be at the event include The Warehouse Performance Institute, Advocare, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JamJev Gymnastics, The Farm/The Gymnast Fix, Hoover Competitive Basketball Club, J Smith Hoops, Drayer Physical Therapy and D’s Promos & Specialties.
Not all kids want to compete at the highest performance levels in sports, but all kids can benefit from becoming active and physically fit, Romano said. These exhibitors want to help young people do that, whether they dream of becoming a professional athlete or just want to play sports recreationally, he said.
Even those who desire to become professional athletes must realize that sports come to an end at some point, Romano said. “At some point, Father Time catches up with us all.”
But skills learned through athletic training — discipline, self-control, will power, dedication, work ethic and goal setting — can carry over into other aspects and phases of life, he said.
Parents and coaches often share that with kids, but sometimes it helps to hear it from others who have excelled in their athletic arenas, he said.
The Sports Champions Expo will be in the Michael Jordan Banquet Room at the Hoover Met. Guests should enter via the banquet room entrance along the third base line. A separate college baseball event will be happening at the same time, with entry for that event at the main entrance to the Met.
Tickets for the Champions Sports Expo are $10 at the door. However, multiple tickets can be purchased for a discount online at eventbrite.com.
For more information, go to the Sports Champions Expo website.