Pictured inside the brand-new Ignit Sports & Fitness (left to right): Rodney Filer, Chad O'Meara, Brian O'Meara and Tavian Banks.
GRIMES, Iowa – Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 – Half his lifetime ago, Tavian Banks was running around defenses in the Big Ten and the National Football League.
These days, he’s running training sessions at Ignit Sports & Fitness.
Ignit – pronounced like “Ignite,” in case you were wondering -- is a newly opened facility that will host the Des Moines Menace’s indoor programs. Located about five minutes from the elbow of Interstates 35 and 80, Ignit has 62,000 square feet, and it has something for just about everyone.
“There’s not many places in the U.S. that are doing what we’re doing here,” said Banks, who rewrote the Iowa Hawkeyes’ record books in 1997 and spent five NFL years with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints. “You’re not going to find a place that has all of this under one roof.”
Step inside Ignit Sports & Fitness and you’ll see what he means. Eight basketball courts. Six volleyball courts. Areas for an adult fitness club (Body Ignit) and performance training (Ignit Performance), both with top-of-the-line equipment. Child care and a fun program for ages 5-8 (Ignite JR). A social room with video games. A yoga studio.
And two swaths of premium turf, where the Menace Academy teams can train on a multisport, cleat-ready surface. Ignit will also host Junior Menace (for ages 3-9) and the Menace’s annual 3v3 event – Kick around the Clock the first weekend of February – with the capacity for three games at time.
Starting in early January, Banks will help lead aspects of the Academy’s performance-training program, which will complement our players’ indoor training with Menace director of coaching Tomas Boltnar and the club’s coaches.
Banks (who, by the way, enjoyed a legendary soccer career at Bettendorf High School back in the day) is Ignit’s director of athletic programs and development. He is part of staff that in early November moved into this new home, which is more than double the 26,000 square feet they outgrew in a building that’s a football throw west of their current digs.
Also on the staff are co-founders Chad and Brian O’Meara; Rodney Filer – like Banks, a former Iowa running back – the director of Body Ignit; and Matt Bennett, the manager of public relations and marketing. They’ve brought together a constellation of all-star coaches, including former Iowa State basketball standout Terry Woods.
The Brothers O’Meara got the ball rolling about five years ago with a big vision for what they could provide the community. That vision was born in a humble space – 6,000 square feet they rented on Park Avenue in south Des Moines.
It’s come a long ways in a short time, and this means more and more opportunity for local athletes like the members of the Menace Academy.
“We can’t express how excited we are to partner with the Menace,” Brian O’Meara said. “I think it’s a great match. We all have the same vision; we’re truly passionate about what we do. Our team strives to be the very best at what we do, and the best part is, we see this in the Menace, too.”
“We’re always looking to improve it,” Chad O’Meara added. “We love the purpose of what we do. For us, it really is about people development. When you see a kid grow more confident or achieve their goals…it’s just so rewarding.”