Growing up in Fishersville, the passion for sports was always there for Jackson Lohr.
So as he took off to Messiah College and played on the club soccer team there, he chose to pursue a career in athletic training in hopes of using it as a stepping stone to physical therapy.
“I enjoyed the ability to take someone from that low point of injury and getting them back onto the field at their best,” said Lohr, who graduated from Messiah with a degree in athletic training in 2019. “That’s where I recognized how much I enjoyed helping people reach their potential.”
Ultimately, through his work in athletic training, Lohr started to find a passion for another career.
At Liberty University, where he eventually graduated in 2021 with a master’s degree in human performance, Lohr became invested in learning about the performance side of athletic training.
While also serving as the athletic training for the LU men’s ice hockey team, he started and ran his own sports performance training business, Lohr Sports Performance, and the passion grew.
“I was working with some of the strength and conditioning staff around there and they just told me, ‘Hey, you have a knack for this. You seem to really know what you’re doing. It would be a waste for you not to move into the performance field,’” Lohr said. “That’s kind of what I did. I took their advice, started on my own and fumbled through it a little bit. Now, here we are.”
Lohr is now the sports performance manager at Horizons Edge and has big aspirations.
With a resume that features work with athletes from ages 11 up to a professional ice hockey team and a background in the athletic training side of things, Lohr is the complete package.
“Jackson has an ability to combine expertise in multiple fields,” Liberty University director of sports performance Chris Kerr said. “He understands the body at a medical and rehabilitation level, while also understanding it at a performance level. This is a phenomenal combination because it puts him ahead of the curve. Most weight room guys spend years of their career trying to learn what Jackson was able to learn in two years. From working in a sport like hockey, it gave Jackson expertise in the major areas of the body — hips and shoulders.”
Ross Garner is another LU strength and conditioning coach that worked with Lohr for two years.
He said the foundation Lohr has in the physical therapy and athletic training field gives him an advantage with performance training because he can make athletes feel better and healthy while also driving performance gains at the same time — a rare accomplishment in the field.
“Jackson truly cares about his clients,” Garner said. “He is detailed and knowledgeable in his field, and will do everything in his power to better the person in front of him. Jackson has always done his research and applied principles to improve those he works with.”
Lohr said the advantages of working with a trainer like him include building up durability so that the body doesn’t shut down late in the season and having a resource to go to regularly.
“Hiring someone who knows what they’re doing and knows the body really well,” Lohr said. “You get the resilience factor of knowing you won’t be broken down at the end of the season. I see a lot of athletes who get to the end of their season and they’re just struggling to make it through because they’re not eating right, not talking to someone who knows what they’re talking about. They aren’t able to ask questions to prepare properly. Those things are invaluable.”
Lohr said while Horizons Edge can offer sport-specific training to area athletes, his primary focus is on building all-around athletes at a young age with the goal of building new skills.
As a result, he said the work will result in athletes being prepared to adapt to almost any sport.
“I think people really benefit from training for general athleticism,” Lohr said. “Speed, power and movement variability are things that really come with the more we train, the better someone is going to be at learning a new skill. If I’m constantly in the weight room, constantly trying to perform new movements, that’s a positive. … The more you pick up on those things, the more easily you are going to acquire skills that make you really dangerous.”
Lohr said that his goal is to help Horizons Edge become the go-to stop for area athletes.
He plans to do his part with the performance training, but noted the large numbers of resources the facility has to help area athletes in a variety of different sports and a number of unique ways.
“My goal is to help bring the level of training and recruitment at Horizons Edge to an elite level,” Lohr said. “I want Horizons Edge to be the No. 1 place for young athletes to come train, come compete and get recruited. A year from now, we want to be the No. 1 place that athletes come to. We have the skills people, the club teams that can give them a shot at high-level competition and sports performance training that can keep them healthy.”
Since his days playing soccer, Lohr’s passion for sports has continued to grow each year.
And while it took a while for him to find his path, the Fishersville native is confident he has now.
“At the end of the day, you are looking to improve,” Kerr said. “I was able to see first-hand athletes go to Jackson beat up, and walk away restored. He gets results and will do whatever it takes to get you those results.”