Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

Former Sooner Football Star Helping Local Girls Succeed in Sports

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.


By the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys.

Fitness coach J.D. Runnels is doing what he can to change the game.

A former football player, he's working with young female athletes to help them take their games to the next level

J.D. Runnels sees the will of female athletes every day, "They teach me not to stop dreaming, I'm fully convinced that some of these girls are going to play pro sports."

Runnels played in the NFL and at Oklahoma, and he has paved a path for high school football players to follow in his footsteps, but in his gym, it's not only guys breaking a sweat.

"But they get in there and they get straight to work, and it's nothing against my boys, but they understand a lot of the time that it's a tougher road for a woman."

Hosting girls only workouts, J.D. has helped young women like Ana Llanusa, who will be playing basketball for the Sooners this fall, take their talents to division one program.

"My whole life I've watched my brother workout here and you see the videos of how intense it is and then when you come here and get through a work out with him, it feels amazing."  ​

"He always has it upbeat and if you were tired before, your'e not tired anymore. He starts you off as soon as you walk through that door and you're going til the very end."

Their sports may be different, but make no mistake, these girls can relate.

​"Mentally too, he's been through all the things that I'm about to go through. So just him talking to you, encouraging you, and just the workouts in general."

"It's a lot different when you're being trained by someone who played D1 himself and who actually knows what it takes to be a D1 athlete."

"Definitely an older brother, he pushes me not only with the stuff that we're doing training wise, but he gives me a lot of life lessons about boys or when I was struggling making a college decision he really helped me through that."

"He's like one of my best friends, he's really cool, I tell him everything. He listens to my problems and I'm surprised he's not tired of me yet.

"Really supportive, they were saying 'good job' or 'hey do this, it'll get easier' and so just the people around me brought me back here."

Reporting in Choctaw, Nikki Kay Oklahoma's News Channel Four Sports

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.