James Sterns once defeated 14-year NBA vet Shawn Kemp in an invitation-only slam-dunk contest hosted by the Dallas Mavericks. He also starred on the basketball court as a Baylor Bear, then as a Harlem Globetrotter and later a Pensacola Tornado.
All of this, of course, came after he helped lead the Waxahachie Runnin’ Indians to the 1980 and '81 state basketball tournament and well before his newest business adventure — cryotherapy and sport-specific training.
Sterns has brought his knowledge of how the body trains, learned through years of traveling with some of the best talents on the hardwood, back home to Waxahachie. Doors to Ellis County Performance and Recovery Center officially opened after the New Year.
His business model for Ellis County Performance and Recovery Center is simple: to help local athletes reach their full potential, regardless of the playing field, court or skill level.
In fact, his primary goal is to bring Ellis County athletes — particularly those who prefer green and white — up to the same level as those who receive similar treatments in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or any other large urban area.
This training is also meant to serve as a supplement to how the athletes are already working out in school or club.
“This is just something to add on to that,” Sterns confirmed. “I am not going to tell them that they are doing anything wrong over there but I played Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and some of the best, and I just feel that I am one of the best athletes to come out of Waxahachie because of how I trained.”
He added, “I have always studied stuff, and I just know athletes. I just want them to bring their work ethic. This isn’t just for basketball players. This is to help kids become the best athlete on the field. Period.”
He explained that after spending the last year-plus training athletes around the Metroplex, it was a basketball game last season between the Runnin’ Indians and Midlothian Panthers that convinced him to bring his cryotherapy and sports training business south down Interstate-35E.
The Ellis County Performance and Recovery Center is not the first business venture for the 1981 Associated Press first team all-state guard in his hometown, either. Shortly after his profession basketball playing career, Sterns returned to open a physical therapy clinic with another fellow, local standout athlete, Broderick Sargent in 1995.
Though the physical therapy and training are areas he has dabbled in for quite some time now, the sub-zero cryotherapy recovery system is a new avenue for Sterns. The decision to invest in a hypobaric chamber came after he, at "40-something years old" and long removed from his slam-dunk champion days, dunked a basketball and felt a little twinge.
“In fact, that is how I got involved with the cryo machine, because when I was training I went to the doctor and he sent me to one in Plano, and I fell in love with it,” Sterns said. “That was when I decided what I was going to do next and I wanted to get one down here.”
He recalled using nothing more than “old-fashioned” ice packs on the knees or aches during his playing days. A far cry from the services he now offers Ellis County athletes.
“In fact, every time one of my kids got hurt we would just use an ice bucket, you know, by putting their foot or whatever in an ice bucket,” Sterns explained.
But, he added, “The cryo helps with basically everything, mainly recovery and that is first and foremost. It is also believed to help with your diabetes, heart conditions, arthritis and just your overall health. Some studies think it can help with dementia. There are a whole lot of health benefits from it.”
The cryotherapy chamber can reach as low as negative-248 degrees Fahrenheit, he explained. Sterns noted first-time users would only experience the blast of cold for about one minute, not the full three minutes.
“We want to give your body time to get used to it,” he added.
According to a 2015 Forbes article, forms of cryotherapy began in the 1700s and the treatment has since evolved in a multitude of fashions. The name itself translates, roughly, to “cold cure” in Greek, states USCryotherapy.com.
The process is relatively simple. The blast of cold, in this case, a hypobaric chamber, cools a heated body and blood flow. As the body begins to reheat, the blood flows back through the bloodstream through vasodilation — from the inside out, which is opposed to ice baths that bring the blood from the extremities inward.
The services offered at Ellis County Performance and Recovery Center do not end in the hypobaric chamber or, really, even inside its doors, Sterns explained.
All training will be local though, with some happening in the office building itself. Sterns emphasizes that he trains a little more “old school” than most and will utilize traditional weight-training techniques. Additional training will be held offsite, either at one of the open football fields or in an indoor space he intends to rent down the line.
“We want to make sure, first of all, that they do not have any pins in their body," he explained of how he will assess athletes. "You then have to look at what they want or are trying to do. If they just want to come in one time a week, then you aren’t really going to feel the full effect. You would really need to come in twice a week or more and let your body get used to it and start recovering to get the full benefits of it.”
He added, “If they don’t want to train, I will turn down people. I don’t want to take their money.”
The first 150 Waxahachie residents to sign up for the monthly cryotherapy membership will receive it at a special rate of $159 per month for six months guaranteed. Single treatments are $24.99.
As for other pricing, Sterns said “Normally I charge $300 per month to train athletes, but for Waxahachie students, I’m charging $200. That is any kid in Waxahachie schools, period. I am not trying to change anything those coaches are doing, I am just trying to add on to it.”
“’Hachie,’ man, that means something to me,” said Sterns as he recalled his time in the green and white and then recounting the most recent memories of his sons — Jay, Jamison, Jerreth, and Josh — donning the same hue.
“I am an Indian all day long. I tell people all of the time that we have some of the best athletes in the Metroplex. People around here are worried about playing DeSoto and Cedar Hill next year, but I’m like, ‘We used to kick the s*** out of them.’ We didn’t care about nobody. I mean, I didn’t care who you were — I was dunking on you. And I want to help bring that same attitude back here.”
For more information, contact the Ellis County Performance and Recovery Center at (214) 903-7978 or reach out to Jamison Sterns on Facebook, because “a lot of these kids like his crazy butt for some reason,” joked the elder Sterns. The office is open Mon—Saturday from 10 a.m — 7 p.m. The cryotherapy option is also set up on Groupon, for those interested in utilizing the hypobaric chamber.
Ellis County Performance and Recovery Center is located at 1014 Ferris Ave, Suite 214. The therapy and training center is located on the second floor of the shopping center that also houses Boost Mobile.
“I just want Waxahachie to be great again. Greg [Gober] has already got it kick-started,” Sterns explained. “[…] Even if people think they can’t afford it, just call me anyway, and we will see if we can’t work something out.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith