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Team practices shooting hoops in area barn

A couple of miles north of the Grant County town of Sweetser is an old farmhouse that shares a property with a pair of barns. The barn that sits closer to the road is an old dairy barn with wooden slats covered in sheet metal. The other is a sleek, new pole barn.

Both barns are actually basketball courts, and they tell the story of a married couple that turned a simple love for the game into one of the most elite basketball training businesses in the state, reaching into Huntington and the surrounding counties.

“We started on driveways and anywhere we could get in,” said Jordan Delks, co-owner of Compete Training Academy. “And in 2017 we bought an old dairy farm. We put our life savings into the barn and started training out of that and slowly but surely we grew to where we now have a second barn on the property.”

Compete Training Academy is a Christian basketball training business with a focus on skill and mindset training. Jordan co-owns and operates the business with his wife, Courtney Delks. Courtney – better known around Grant County by her maiden name, Courtney Moses – played at Oak Hill High School and was named Indiana Miss Basketball in 2010. She still holds 27 career, season or game records at Oak Hill.

She then played at Purdue University, where she was named First Team All-Big Ten Conference and finished eighth all-time on their scoring list.
Jordan graduated from Rossville High School just east of Lafayette before playing at Purdue North Central (now called Purdue Northwest). After his playing career ended, Jordan was a student manager at Purdue University under Coach Matt Painter.

He then became an assistant coach at Indiana Wesleyan University under Coach Greg Tonagel, winning the national championship in 2016. Soon after that season ended, Jordan quit coaching to become a trainer full-time.

Basketball training is a relatively new industry, at least in its accessibility. It used to be just professional players who paid someone dedicated to helping them improve individually.

Now, players of any age can be trained at CTA and other organizations like it. Several Huntington North kids make the 40-minute trip to train at CTA.
Jordan trained his first player, a Lipscomb University player named Michael Teller, 11 years ago, while still a college student himself. He helped Teller get a professional contract for a team in Mexico. “That process really just lit my fire for training,” Jordan said.

Courtney also started training around that time. The couple got married in 2015 and founded CTA that same year.

The name of the business is an amalgamation of the mindset of three different basketball programs. “The way we define compete is ‘doing what God is calling you to do, even when it’s hard,’” Jordan said.
“I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Purdue men’s basketball program where their mantra is ‘play hard’ and Indiana Wesleyan where their mantra is ‘I am third’ and Courtney at Purdue women’s basketball where their mantra is ‘no excuses.’ So we saw how important it was to bring your culture and how it can change someone’s life.”

The “compete mentality” is evident in each session at the barn.

Those who train can expect a high-energy workout with great attention to detail.
There are elements of basketball skills, speed, biomechanics and mindset training. “We start each workout talking about what are you doing for your mind and your spirit. We call it ‘Feed Me’ time,” Jordan said.

CTA’s list of offerings is long and diverse: individual and group basketball training; team-wide training (at the barn or at the team’s gym); basketball-specific speed and strength training; adult fitness classes and individual training; and anything else a client might want.

And the list of programs is still growing.

They’ve recently ventured out of the basketball world into mindset training for anyone. One of their clients for this program, called “Dream SZN,” is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. “We’ve found in over a decade of experience that your mind is your most powerful weapon,” Delks said. “So we put together a mindset curriculum that was geared towards coaches, trainers and players. And it has grown into anyone and everyone because it’s all transferable across industry.”

A couple of weeks ago they announced the opening of a Lafayette location, a place where the Delks have considerable connections. CTA has also entered the AAU world for the first time and will run seven teams this summer. The program will be “completely centered around faith, mindset and skill development training,” Jordan said. “There’s no other AAU program that’s doing this in Indiana.”

CTA now employs seven trainers, two of whom are former Huntington University players: Spencer Ballinger (who played for the Foresters from 2018-2022) and Wyatt Hughes (2017-2021).

Another trainer is Lewis Jackson. Jackson played for Purdue from 2008-2012 and is the winningest point guard in program history. He later played professionally overseas and in the G-League, the NBA’s developmental league.

Jordan was a manager at Purdue while Jackson played there and in early 2021, Jordan interviewed Jackson on “The Compete Mentality Podcast” (another CTA endeavor). After the interview, Jackson told Jordan that he wanted to make another attempt at playing professionally and asked Jordan to train him.

So, in February 2021, Jackson moved to Marion and began training five days a week. Jackson did get a professional contract with the Indiana All-Americans of The Basketball League. But along the way, he discovered that he loves training other players.

Now, Jackson would say that he has retired as a player (though he hasn’t completely closed that door). He leads much of the training that happens at the barns, and Jordan referred to him as “the third owner” of the business. “It’s just been rewarding,” Jackson said. “I didn’t think I would enjoy training as much as I do, but it’s been rewarding.”

Jackson’s expertise and basketball resume make him a great trainer. But like Jordan and Courtney, his love for training goes beyond basketball. “I love building the connection with the kids,” Jackson said. “I’ve had an epiphany: I’m a teacher. I never viewed training as that, but now that I’ve grown with these kids over these last months and built relationships I’ve not only gotten to see their growth as players and their confidence, but now we have relationships. I’m getting to spread positive messages to these kids.”

The new barn opened in November 2021. It’s state-of-the-art and includes a heated floor, a bathroom, a section for weight training and four hoops. It can be used year-round, important because the old barn is uninsulated and unheated.

That old barn isn’t going anywhere, though. It’s iconic: some of the best basketball players from Indiana and the surrounding states have trained in it. Basketball memorabilia lines the walls, and the old hayloft serves as a film-watching studio with a large-screen TV and an assortment of old furniture.
As the weather warms up and school lets out, both barns will be used almost all day. CTA trainers will host workouts and the Delks will travel around the state for team camps and AAU tournaments while also caring for their two young children.

One night last week, nine elementary-aged kids and their parents sat in the new barn, waiting for their group session to start. On the court at the time was University of Michigan commit and Indiana All-Star Alyssa Crockett from Westfield who was training with Courtney. The kids watched in awe as Crockett made 16 three-pointers in a row.

As soon as Crockett’s session ended, the kids ran onto the court and were met by Jackson, who had just walked across the driveway after finishing an individual session in the old barn. He led the kids through “Feed Me” time, then they jumped immediately into a passing drill.
The Delks’ ultimate goal isn’t to be the biggest training business in the country or to train the best athletes in the world (although they’re on their way to those exact things).

It’s bigger than that.

“We’re not motivated by money, we’re motivated by impact,” Delks said. “It’s much more than just on the court. On the court is so trivial to be honest, compared to the grand scheme of life. So our mission is to help everyone do what God calls them to do even when it’s hard. That’s why we’re here on this earth.”