Auburn native engineers football training device with the help of AU students

Auburn native creates new device to train athletes

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Auburn Junior High School students Chase Bradley and Luke Stewart are training to be apart of the Auburn High School football team next fall. They think a newly engineered machine will help get them there.

The machine is called the SledHammer, invented by Auburn Junior High School teacher and weight training coach Vaughn Maceina.

The idea originated when Maceina was helping neighbors remove debris from their yards after the April 2011 tornadoes ripped across Alabama.

"Massive trees were blown down, and the only way to clean things up was to push logs out of street from people's yards," explains Maceina. "People were cutting them in five, six and eight foot sections, and as I was pushing them and had to be in a bent position, I said, 'this is pretty tough and a good workout. I wonder if this exists.'"

Meceina tried recreating the technique with actual logs, but they wouldn't roll smoothly. That was when he teamed-up with his childhood friend, Attorney Sesi Bonsi. The two enlisted the help of mechanical engineering students at Auburn University to take his idea and turn it into a training device that could be used by football players and other athletes.

"They have a senior design program, and we met with them and gave them the idea and they just kind of ran with it. It turned out a great product, phenomenal piece of equipment, we feel like, and its been a great partnership between us," says Maceina.

Maceina and Bonsi worked with Auburn's Office of Technology Transfer to obtain patent protection. They have also started a company called TROUT Fitness, featuring the SledHammer.

The device has been demonstrated to football programs at high schools all over the state and at universities including Auburn, the University of Alabama, Furman and Clemson.

"Its great for a lineman, its really helps you stay low," says Bradley.

"It really helps and improve your technique," says Stewart.

In January, Maceina and Bonsi will travel to the American Football Coaches Association Conference in Indianapolis to display the SledHammer in front of thousands of professional, college and high school coaches.  

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