Growing up, former Minnesota State standouts Adam Thielen and Ryan Carter were each willing to put in the work. They had the passion, they had the drive, and they had the talent.

What they didn’t have was the knowledge. That came later when they started training with ETS Performance.

Nearly 10 months after ETS’ Mankato branch officially opened, Thielen, Carter and their associates were finally able to celebrate its opening with a public ceremony at the new 4,000-square-foot fitness facility, located in the back of the Minnesota Valley Action Council building on North Victory Drive.

“For us, it’s about having this piece in the community. I think that’s what’s important to both Adam and I,” said Carter, a former Minnesota State and NHL hockey player and co-owner of the Mankato branch. “Both being products of Mankato, it was important for us to give the athletes of this area the opportunity to train and train the right way.”

ETS training is a venture developed by Ryan Carter and Adam Thielen. For pro hockey player Carter played Maverick hockey and Vikings wide receiver Thielen played Maverick football. Both say they have a commitment to training Mankato athletes as a result of their local connections.

At ETS, it’s a different approach.

When athletes get into the program, there’s an evaluation to see where they’re at in terms of strength, speed, deceleration, basic fundamental athletic and biomechanical movements and other key factors that go into athletic performance.

Once a baseline is established, a program is tailored specifically to each athlete that will help address their individual deficiencies and athletic goals. The training tends to become more sport-specific as athletes get older, but it’s a more holistic approach at ETS.

“It’s not about becoming a better basketball player, or a better football player or a better softball player. It’s a systematic approach to becoming a better athlete,” Thielen said. “It’s stuff that I do every single day to help myself become a better athlete. Not a better football player, a better athlete so that I can perform better on the field.”

Thielen, a receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, credits ETS for the route-running proficiency and short-area explosiveness that have made him an NFL star.

“The work that I put in here, I see it translate to me on the football field,” Thielen said. “When I really started to 100% buy in was when I would get to OTAs ... and I could see that I got in and out of breaks quicker. I could change direction quicker. I was more confident in and out of breaks and going full speed into a very difficult cut.”

Local athletes are already sharing in Thielen’s experience.

For Mankato West’s Jenna Sikel, a gymnast and track and field athlete, ETS came into her life last summer at a time when the pandemic had taken away any sense of normalcy.

She’s stuck with the program ever since and has learned invaluable things about training in the process.

“I feel like when I go in, I have people to tell me how to do things,” Sikel said. “If you go to a normal workout gym, you kind of have to figure out your own workout. If you don’t know how to work out, it’s really hard to start.”

Added Mankato East quarterback Jacob Eggert: “I think I’ve discovered how far I can actually go and how far I can push myself coming here.”

While ETS currently has about 150 members, the hope is to continue growing as society continues its slow return to normal.

On his drive down to Mankato from the Twin Cities, Carter marveled at how much Mankato has continued to grow since he left MSU about 15 years ago, and with that comes more growth in youth sports.

The goal is to help a community he cares deeply about continue that growth.

“Because of the success that the university has had recently ... that bleeds into the youth programs in the area,” Carter said “ We want to be part of that too.

“We would like to be a part of that movement and the energy and the effort that people are putting into their youth athletics.” right now.”

Follow Kevin Dudley on Twitter @Dudley7Kevin.

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