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NATIONAL RECORDS SMASHED: Washington Co. High, GA
BFS keeps a record of how many athletes from one high school that can dead lift 500 and how many that can get 600 pounds. The national record was 730 pounds. The Golden Hawk goal was to break'em all
By Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 1999

R ick Tomberlin has it going at Washington County High School in Sandersville, Georgia. In his seven years with the Golden Hawks, Tomberlin has amassed an 85-11 record which is tops in Georgia for that period. This record includes playing for the State Championships four times and winning it three times. In one stretch, Tomberlin's charges had a 30-0 streak in 1996 and 97. Coach Tomberlin is great with kids and does the BFS program. He has also had two BFS clinics. We thought so highly of him that he will now be added to our staff as a BFS Clinician.
Coach Tomberlin has one special event in the summer that is unique. He got the idea from our BFS clinics that we often do to create a great climactic ending. We do a dead lift with a special spotting technique which allows athletes to lift awesome maximum poundages without the normal risk of low back injury. It is quite rare to even get a back muscle spasm.
We know many certified strength coaches and trainers might question the prudence of such an event or even the value. I guess you would have to have been a head football coach before or see first hand what happens to a team's attitude and spirit. BFS is about the mind, the body and the spirit. The dead lift done the BFS way hits all three of these areas like you can't believe and Coach Rick Tomberlin took it to a new level
Sandersville is somewhat isolated. The town is about halfway between Macon and Augusta. Washington County High School is the only public school in the county. The county has no college football so the community revolves around their Golden Hawks. Coach Tomberlin set up 24 summer workouts for his team. Over 60 varsity players made all 24 workouts. Prizes donated by the community went to all of these players. Special awards were given to extra-effort players. The culmination of the off-season and summer workouts took place on Thursday July 15th. Community members, parents and media were invited! There was actual TV coverage of this amazing event.
BFS keeps a record of how many athletes from one high school that can dead lift 500 and how many that can get 600 pounds. The national record was 730 pounds. The Golden Hawk goal was to break'em all. That meant 51 players needed to lift 500 and 11 players needed to get to the 600 pound level.
The rules are simple. The spotter insures the safety of the lifter by pulling the athlete back on command as illustrated. Injuries, if they do occur on the dead lift, almost always happen when the hips come up, the head goes down and the lifter's balance moves forward to the toes. That is, of course, brutal on the lower back. The spotter keeps the hips down and shifts the balance to the lifter's heels. The athlete must stand erect with the weight and throw the shoulders back and the hips forward. A technique secret is to always keep the chin up and away from the chest. How much does a spotter help? On average, about 50 pounds.
The players arrived at seven in the evening and met outside. The coaches took them through a 20-minute warm-up which included agilities, stretching, form running and sprinting. Next, they split into three groups. One group doing three good sets of five on a below parallel squat. The other two groups did the same sets and reps on the bench and power clean. Many teams would have been exhausted after that workout but not the Golden Hawks. That was their warm-up for the dead lift.
I could not believe what I saw next. Coach Tomberlin roped off an area with two platforms. Each platform had 500 pounds on the bar. The audience assembled and watched one player after another dead lift 500 pounds. This was the starting poundage. They were already warmed up. Fifty-one football players got 500 pounds!
The electricity in the air was awesome. Tomberlin's team believes they are the strongest team in America. They believe in Golden Hawk football. They believe in each other. They believe they can win the state championship. They believe. The community believes. It is something you can tell your grand kids one day. "Back in high school, I lifted 500 pounds!" Confidence, self-esteem, attitude, loyalty and togetherness: all these essential ingredients that make up a championship team all came to a raging positive boil in just 30 minutes. It was one remarkable scene.
Six hundred pounds was loaded onto the bar for the next record. Intensity rose another notch. Eleven players reached this level. Fifty-one at 500 or more and eleven at 600 pounds. Both new national BFS records.
Coach Tomberlin shouted above the dim of excitement, "What's the national record for most weight ever lifted?"
"Seven thirty," I responded loudly. Tyler Biggins, a huge 290-pound returning starter, stepped forward. Six hundred had gone easy. I felt he had a shot. A new record weight was eased onto the bar: seven 45's on each end, along with a 25 and a 5-pound plate.
Everybody was going crazy. Everyone was shouting and chanting, "Tyler, Tyler, Tyler." He chalked up! He tightened the lifting straps around the bar. He pulled with all his might. The bar inched upward. The noise was deafening. Past his knees... then lockout! Tyler did it!
What a night. I relearned a coaching lesson. Coaching is more than X's and O's. It is more than periodization and learning the Krebs Cycle. Coaching correctly calls for passion. Coaching correctly means dealing with the human spirit! It means changing lives for the better. It is about leadership and team. It is about building and achieving.
No matter what happens in the future to each Golden Hawk football player, they will have a night to always remember. They will always be able to dream big.

Even the media came to speak with Coach Tomberlin.
A future Golden Hawk sees Tyler Biggins pull a national record of 735 lbs.
Coach Shepard congratulates Tyler.
Coach Mike Pollock signaling one-two-three to Johnny Colclough who is deaf. He got 500 pounds!
Coach Hollis demonstrates BFS spotting technique: One hand on the small of the back. The left elbow hooked on lifter's front shoulder with palm on chest. The coach keeps the hips down and shifts the
Coach Hollis, Coach Tomberlin and Coach Shepard with Brian Elmquist and his trophy for most dedicated Golden Hawk.
Coach Hollis spotting another Golden Hawk football player, one of 51 who pulled over 500 lbs!
Rodriquez Brown focuses and prepares to battle 500 pounds. He achieved his goal.
Coach Tomberlin had them hanging from the rafters.
It was a community affair.
The intensity was amazing. 51 Golden Hawk

Return to Fall 1999 Articles


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