SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY, NJ — Phoenix Elite NJ, which was founded in 2019 on the original premise of educating, equipping and empowering young women throughout Southern Ocean County through sport and teamwork in order to develop strong, confident female leaders of the future — has had to — in its brief life, pivot and grow in order to adapt to this new, online virtual reality many New Jerseyans find themselves in.

Having been set to kick-off in-person sessions this past April 18 for youth, middle school and high school females participating in field hockey and soccer — lacrosse is scheduled to begin June 1 — Phoenix Elite’s owners Robin Meaney and Laurie Temple and the organization’s stalwart staff, which includes homegrown talent Jenna Lombardo-Adams, Liz Law, Elyse Broderick, Elise St. Germain and Nicole Andriani, had to refocus their approach and quickly find a way to approach sessions with their athletes virtually, through an online website application.

The application, which allows the coaches to run live sessions and then provide the recordings to the athletes for them to practice during the week, has proven extremely successful for the group.

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“This is brilliant. My girls loved it!” beamed Rich Borusovic, father of two girls participating in separate Phoenix Elite field hockey sessions.

Meaney, who brought the sport-specific training concept to Southern Ocean County after owning and operating central Jersey-based New Heights Field Hockey, which produced nationally-ranked club teams and a myriad of scholarship-earning athletes at the Division I level for more than a decade, didn’t want to just close up shop when social-distancing orders were put in place. Rather, she and the coaches wanted to provide a bit of hope to the athletes and families during these uncertain times.

“There is no possible way we could operate in this virtual environment without our incredibly talented, unselfish coaching staff. They are the true rock stars of Phoenix Elite and Laurie (Temple) and I are immensely grateful for their collaboration and positive attitudes,” Meaney said. “For them to provide the level of training they are able to, with girls aged six to 18 online, takes a special kind of dedication, selflessness, patience and even humor. Our coaches are our lifeblood, and we are incredibly lucky to have them.”

Rounding out the female sport coaching staff are Christina Fabiano (field hockey), Julie McWhorter (lacrosse), Lori Bucci Johnson (lacrosse) and Drew Gibson (soccer).

During each of the one-hour weekly sessions per age group, one of the coaches shows the skills. Skills will progress over the course of six weeks and one coach watches from the virtual “sidelines” in order to provide live feedback for the athletes.

At the end of each session there is a summary of what was learned and an opportunity for the girls to ask questions of the coaches. They are also given “homework” to practice on their own throughout the week.

Meaney shared another parent’s feedback following one of the field hockey sessions:

“Hearing her hard work (and your voices in the background) doing stick work is freaking awesome! This was so good for her mind and soul too - she’s just been very sad. This is just what I think she needed.”

While this inaugural session is set to conclude at the close of May, Phoenix Elite already has plans to begin a second run of virtual training May 18, with lacrosse opening its online doors in early June.

“Why would we stop now?” Meaney said. “While we, just like everyone else, absolutely cannot wait to be able to operate in person with our athletes, we feel as if we are providing a service of hope right now and a departure from the current situation we all find ourselves in.”

And Phoenix Elite’s reach doesn’t stop there. With the addition of certified fitness coaches Brock Anderson, Nikki Azzolino, Robin Morris and Kate Donohue alongside Law who also doubles as an adult yoga practice leader, the group now offers 25 virtual online fitness classes weekly to the adult population. These include strength, HIIT, kettlebell, bodyweight, booty bootcamp, spin, and of course, yoga.

Online monthly memberships for singles up to families of four are available on the Phoenix Elite website: www.PhoenixEliteNJ.com under “Online Registrations”. The group offered free classes for the majority of April.

Lastly Anderson, who has taken a leadership role on the adult fitness side, will also be offering Elite Performance for the youth male population, beginning this Saturday, May 2. Please visit the Phoenix Elite website for schedule and additional details.

“What a team we have in place with us right now,” Meaney added. “To be able to offer sport, fitness, mindfulness, and performance under one virtual ‘roof’ and with these coaches - again, we could not be more grateful. Just wait until restrictions are lifted, and we can all train as one big, happy family, together!”

One can only imagine that Phoenix Elite will be rising.

To contact Phoenix Elite, please email phoenixelitenj@gmail.com, or call 609-798-1187.