Who is this man? And how has he become one of the most powerful forces on the local football scene?

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Depending on who you ask, opinions vary widely about Traison Lewis.

To prep athletes and their parents, there’s arguably no offseason coach/trainer more popular. Among local high school football coaches, however, the consensus is that he’s part of a problem that’s only getting bigger.

What nobody can deny, though, is that Lewis and his brand “Body By Tra” have become a serious power player on the local prep football scene and it’s only getting more powerful.

“Power player? I mean, I don’t know,” Lewis said. “I don’t consider myself that. If there’s one thing you’ll notice about me and our program it’s that we’re very humble and we just like to let the kids and parents evaluate us and see what we do.

“I like to say we’re the best kept secret. People find out about us by word of mouth. All these top-level athletes have been in our programs for years. The kids sell us and the parents sell us more than we sell ourselves.”

If Body By Tra is a secret, then the secret’s clearly getting out. Every offseason a bigger and bigger crop of local talent clamors to be part of Lewis’ 7-on-7 team. And who can blame them? Lewis’ 2012 team had nine players who wound up getting scholarships.

This year’s team featured local standouts like the Bishop Amat tandem of receiver Tyler Vaughns and running back/linebacker Anthony Camargo along with St. Francis receiver Dylan Crawford and West Covina defensive back Isiah Love. Whittier Christian tight end Noah Evans, the son of former Raiders quarterback Vince Evans, is also on the team.

The quarterback? None other than Santa Margarita standout K.J. Costello, who is considered to be one of the top prospects on the West Coast. And because one team wasn’t enough to fit the amount of players Lewis had at his disposal, he had a second team as well.

Lewis, a graduate of Rancho Cucamonga High in 2000, was a standout on the Cougars’ 1999 CIF championship team. He earned a scholarship to Wisconsin as a outside linebacker/defensive end and later finished his college career at Sacramento St. He had brief stints on the practice squads of the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans before trying his hand in the Canadian Football League.

What began as Lewis working out two local athletes at a park in 2006 has blossomed into a business that Lewis claims isn’t profitable but is certainly growing rapidly. The price per workout ranges between $20-40 depending on the athletes’ age and whether it’s on the field or in the weight room.

Lewis estimates that he spends $20-30,000 per offseason on Body By Tra. It’s easy to see how expenses pile up as Lewis often piles his 7-on-7 teams into two, 15-passenger vans and they travel around Southern Calfiornia and have gone as far Las Vegas to compete in tournaments against other top private teams. In June, Lewis will take a convoy to play in a prestigious tournament in Florida.

It’s all part of an increasingly football-centric offseason that many athletes now partake in. Instead of playing in other sports at their schools, the players who choose to focus solely on the gridiron do so by getting specialized training.

“That’s what fueled me to go 110 percent with this — you had a lot of people out there charging parents and kids for recruiting,” Lewis said. “Telling them ‘I can get your kid a scholarship’. That’s not true. What earns you a scholarship is Friday nights.

“I want to have a program that works with integrity and puts kids first. Everybody on my staff is a certified trainer, the whole package. I want this to be a one-stop shop for kids as well as parents. We’re going to get your kid bigger, faster, stronger, but you’re also going to be athletically developed at the positions you’re training at on the field.”

In recent years, several private offseason training options for football players have sprouted up, be it former Bishop Amat quarterback Chris Rix’s “Champion Training” or former Los Altos defensive stalwart Brigham Harwell’s “Trench Hogs”.

But none has been as controversial, or popular, as Lewis’ Body By Tra and that’s because in addition to skilled training, Lewis offers his athletes recruiting exposure. Besides his 7-on-7 team, Lewis offers a myriad of training services for athletes. It’s not just football players either. Bonita girls basketball star Nikki Wheatley, who will play at UNLV next season, is a client of Lewis’. As is Bonita water polo standout Samantha Snow, who will attend Arizona St. this fall.

Athletes from all over are starting to catch on, too. Lewis reports that several football players from Northern California made the trip down every weekend to be a part of his workouts this offseason. There was even a player from Colorado who did the same.

Lewis is mostly based out of Upland, but his weekend workouts this year have been held at Chaffey High in Ontario. It’s Lewis’ supposed ties to Upland’s football program that have gotten have drawn the ire of several local high school football coaches who point to a steady stream of athletes who trained under Lewis and later transferred to Upland.

One such notable transfer came last year when former San Dimas running back, then a member of the Body By Tra 7-on-7 team, transferred to Upland in the offseason. Payton was later ruled ineligible by the CIF-Southern Section on grounds his transfer was athletically motivated. Payton later played at Bonita.

Lewis denies he has any ties to Upland football and this year has instated a policy to have nobody on his coaching staff who is affiliated with any high school program. That wasn’t the case last year, though, when Lewis’ quarterback coach Mike Esquivel, a 2000 Upland graduate and Upland Pop Warner coach, was also on staff at Upland. Esquivel is no longer on staff at either place.

Several local football coaches declined to comment on the record about Lewis and Body By Tra when contacted about this story. However, many expressed concerns off the record that ranged from having their players illegally recruited to play for another school while being part of Body By Tra to having parents be sold unrealistic dreams about their kids’ chances to get a football scholarship.

Like it or not, Lewis is here to stay and his print on the local football scene is getting bigger and bigger. His case as to why Body By Tra is so popular and growing so quickly is compelling when viewed from the standpoint of a teen-aged football prospect and his parents.

“Where else can someone go from being nobody to all of a sudden being one of the top prospects in the state of California and getting recognized?,” Lewis said. “These kids want to be a part of this more than anything. What kids are looking for is a place to get exposure. With a 7-on-7 tournament, if you can go to one place on a Saturday and Sunday and see the best skill talent in all of Southern California, that’s a no-brainer for the recruiting services.”

To contact Body By Tra …

Phone: 951-283-4796
Email: bbtathletics@gmail.com
Web: bbtathletics.com

  • reality

    High school football coaches already have their hands full dealing with 100 plus athletes, logistics of the program then here comes the parents that want their budding super star to have special treatment from the staff. Thus this guy found a niche and is filling it. Good for him. It would hurt his program if it was proven he had a less than above board association with a few privileged programs. It still is a free market world out there and soon there will be many other budding trainers coming down the road giving this guy competition. Wait a minute, they are already here.

    • SDSaints

      Just think the Lyons’ family spent thousands of dollars to get Jake into the Army Prep School ! Oh wait I thought going to Body by Tra was supposed to get him into Auburn. Oh wait I forgot he isn’t going to the Army either. $$$ + Body by Tra = JC

      • Nomoredrama

        All of the training in the world won’t get you a scholarship if you don’t have the grades and test scores to go with it. Now, I don’t know if that’s what happened with this kid.

      • reality

        Someone must have punked you hard Saint.

      • The Living Legend

        Let it go, you sound like a someone still scorned after a break-up. The player left for whatever reason, he didn’t want to be at SD anymore. Get over it, I remember when I used to be bitter about break ups also. Of course I was 16 when that happened.

      • Here’s JOHNNY, or Little Johnn

        SDSaints…. I think you did your math wrong. Let me help you out…. Saints football + week schedule= no scholarships. Now hopefully that clears it up for you. Each person makes there own decision. Let it go…

        • MonkeyWrench

          Yall be missing his point, The kid left his home school and his friends on da false dream sold to him dat he would get an SEC offer. He is aint a SEC kid period and never was. His HS coach told him da truth. Dis is not about the kid or his parents it about the BS dis so called power broker sold him. Da power broker be exploting kids and families. As a result da kid lost out on be plaing with his friends, CIF title, POY and still ended up where his home school could have gotten him, Dis is all a bunch a BS.

      • AMAT 73

        sds,
        Cheap shot . Is that how you rep SD ? And what’s wrong with going to a JC ?

  • Speed Kills

    About time someone did this for football. Sports like Travel Softball, Volleyball, and baseball have done this for years and have college coaches from around the country lined up at their games every weekend. While kids play, coaches talk to college coaches and sell “all” kids to try and get them all scholarships. High school football coaches can’t do everything so coaches like Lewis are well needed I think.

  • Valley Athletics

    I hAve been to a couple of the tournaments . What I have noticed is there is so much showboating and smack talking . There was even a fight at passing downs finals a couple week ago .kids Egos are getting bigger with the lack of proper discipline .

  • MonkeyWrench

    Don’t be confuzin playin 7 on 7 with training. Lotz a kids playin on the growing 7 on 7 circuit. Which be different than having someone be your kids personal trainer. My advice to all the peps out dar is do your homework before you pick who you want your kid with. Do they have biz licenses, insurance, arrest records, connection with transfer, and banded from HS campuses. Check it out because dis growing market is bringing out the cockroaches.

  • MonkeyWrench

    Don’t be confuzin playin 7 on 7 with training. Lotz a kids be playin on the growing 7 on 7 circuit. Which be different than having someone be your kids personal trainer. My advice is do your homework before you pick who you be wanting your kid with. Do they have biz licenses, insurance, arrest records, connection with transfer, and banded from HS campuses. Check it out because dis growing market is bringing out the cockroaches.

    • Speed Kills

      Many of that stuff you mention besides arrest record will not matter to parents. As long as their kid gets in front of the right coaches to be seen. Look at this year alone how many kids playing on 7 on 7 teams have received college offers and they don’t even start on their respected HS team. That alone will bring in many other kids.

      • MonkeyWrench

        So you be thinking BBT got Camargo his offer. Pleaze I bet Hags would have sumthing to say bout dat.

        • AramT

          I would say a major reason why Camargo got his offer is the kid is a fantastic student and could go just about anywhere on grades alone. Yes, he’s a heckuva football talent, too. Maybe the whole BBT thing helped him get better, maybe not. But he certainly set himself up well with his academics.

          • MonkeyWrench

            Aram, I agree da 7 on 7 circuit has it place but parents be thinking its going to get offer are fools. It be about acdemic and athletic performance in hi school.

        • Valley Athletics

          I think it has to do with his grades and last years performance . In Sidney’s and Vaughn’s case they already got Ucla offers before 7 on 7 season and had interest by many schools . There standout performances at 7on7 just helped them more .

          • Mean Joe Green

            You are mistaken Valley. Sidney received an offer from UCLA prior to 7v7. It was due to his own performances outside of 7v7 and Bishop. He was offered as a wide receiver. Which if you saw the tapes last year you would know that Bishop gave him little to know exposure at that position. Both Sidney and Vaughn’s offers for USC came during 7v7 this year. Not prior. Also, Sidney received an offer from Miami immediately after a 7v7 performance. You are absolutely right that there was interest long before, but there is a place for 7v7. Neither Sidney nor Vaughns were the top receivers for Bishop. So 7v7 helped raise their stock.

          • Valley Athletics

            There is an interview of sidney where he states he got his first offer during season from ucla . And I did say there stand out performances at 7on7 helped them .

          • Mean Joe Green

            You’re right, he did get UCLA during the season. I was just stating that he got a WR offer while he was playing corner. I am not taking anything away from Amat’s influence on these kids getting offers. I just wanted to clarify that he was under used as a WR last season, so the 7v7s helped him gain exposure as a WR rather than the CB that he was focused on during the season.

          • Valley Athletics

            Totally agree. His stand out performances as part of team TNT bumped up his stock. Same for Vaughn’s for BBT . But there are so many who are not getting offers from 7on7.

          • Mean Joe Green

            True!

        • Speed Kills

          No didn’t say that at all but Hags didn’t do it for him either. This kid is a good talent and grades alone will get him anywhere. What i’m saying is having a “travel” coach in whatever sport, have a direct relationship with the college coaches helps out a lot. If anyone thinks the high school coaches are doing the work for the kids then they need to wake up and step into the real world. Like i said in previous post, check out what other travel sports are doing on the recruiting side with having numerous coaches lined up at their games every weekend.

  • Valley Athletics

    Congrats to Anthony Camargo who got offered by Fresno state . Good to hear about the number of colleges who have been visiting practice daily .

    • Speed Kills

      Great kid great family

  • fb102

    Issue I have trainers is the influence they have over the player in the college selection process.

    In HS basketball, the influence of ‘handlers’ has made the recruiting process a cesspool of deal-making, underhandedness of epic proportions. The ‘handlers’ are de-facto brokers/peddlers of the players whose focus tends to be on how to enrich their OWN situation.

    As football training guru’s begin to take hold/expands, how long before this same ‘type’ of behind the scenes rubbish takes hold also? How does this benefit the players?

    • AramT

      fb102,

      Excellent point! I will have a column discussing this very topic later today.

    • And then some

      It’s already happening, many of these guys saw what the AAU Basketball Coaches and Handlers were getting away with and decided they could do the same with football. From what I hear (rumor), this guy, requires parents to sign 1 year contracts at $400/mo and collects his money regardless if you remain in the program or not. There is huge money in youth sports today and most of guys collecting the money are nothing more then “used car salesmen” selling parents on a dream. The truth is there are only enough available scholarships each year to be handed out and less then 1% of all high school seniors will obtain one of those scholarships. Probably 90%+ of that 1% are kids with incredible god given talent that were going to receive one of the scholarships regardless if they were working with a personal trainer or not. I would guess that maybe 10% of that 1% are kids that received a scholarship due to being an over achiever. Almost all scholarship offers come down to “Potential” and that potential is based off of size (mostly height because recruiters know that they can add size later) and speed (which can only be slightly tweeked with training)

  • Math Rat

    I want to know how this guy is flying all around the country visiting colleges and trying to sell kids offering sessions for $20-40 a pop. The math doesn’t add up.

    Take B2G for instance…they whore out the legit playmakers and use their likeliness to the masses hoping to rope in you gullible parents only to get in your wallet. Have you seen how many guys they were pulling in their prime. And 9 times out of 10…all you heard about was less than 1 percent of who they were working with.

    Not sure if this is what BTB does but I wouldn’t be surprised because again, what he says he spends and what he says he’s charging does not equate. He has some racket going on. Be careful what you wish for.