An Indiana middle-school student looks to expanded horizons instead of excuses.
By Laura Dayton
Published: Summer 2001
Trevor Fallis, just turned 15, has integrated himself into every sport offered at Greencastle Middle School. He runs cross country and track events, has been quarterback three years running since the seventh grade, plays baseball, swims with 26 first-place finishes this year in 32 races, and does a power clean that impresses seniors at neighboring Greencastle High. He also maintains an A/B academic record, with his strongest class in honors math.
While looked upon as an overachiever by some classmates, Trevor scoffs at the moniker. He describes himself as a “try-to-be.” He says, “Even though I’m not a success in every sport, I’m trying them all and believe I’ll stand out in something. It’s really all about academics, though. I see sports being part of my life all through college; then it may be a career in electronic engineering I pursue. I just don’t know right now.”
Trevor’s grounded attitude regarding his future has definitely been influenced by his father, Greencastle High School’s strength coach, John Fallis. “Being a coach, I’ve always felt kids who concentrate on one sport, with the hope that they’ll be drafted, are missing out,” says John from his Greencastle, Indiana, home. “I’m not saying everyone should be like Trevor, but I encourage kids to play at least three sports before they decide to focus on one. I think it allows them to make an educated decision about what they want to play, and ultimately enjoy their sport more.”
Trevor began lifting when he was just nine years old. Under the tutelage of his father, who was head football coach at Greencastle High School at the time, Trevor began with the BFS basics, quickly catching on to the basic mechanics of the hang clean.
“I started with hang cleans,” explains Trevor, who at his current height of 5-foot-7, weighs 145 pounds. “When I first switched to power cleans, I struggled with them because I’d been better at hang cleans. But I kept working at it. I was lucky to have my dad as a coach because a lot of people don’t know how to do the Olympic lifts and don’t teach them right.”
“When we started at home,” recalls John, “we had difficulty getting him into good form. So we held back and worked just on his form picking up the bar. Once we could get him into the fundamental position, he caught on real quick. It’s now his favorite lift and one of his best.”
The uniqueness of this lift has helped Trevor in other ways. Greencastle Middle School is next door to the high school, and eighth graders are allowed use of the high school facility. “People are curious about the lift so it’s a great way to meet the other kids. I guess I like to teach, because I really enjoy showing people who are older than me the mechanics of the lift.”
Trevor’s performance in every sport has been helped by his weightlifting. In swimming, the weight training has definitely improved his time in the butterfly, his best and favorite stroke. On the football field the weights have helped him remain competitive.
“I have a lot of knowledge of the game,” says Trevor. “Because my dad coaches it, I’ve grown up watching and analyzing the games. I’d sit up until eleven at night watching the games, and I’ve helped my dad on the field since I was in third grade.”
For the past three years Trevor has served as quarterback for his middle school team. His dad describes Trevor as “a good, not great, player,” but proudly cites the team record of having lost only two games in the past three years.
“There is a lot of support for our sports programs in Greencastle,” says John, who after 19 years at Greencastle High, retired as head football coach and has been strictly the strength coach for the past two years. “We’re not far from the university so we have that college-town attitude. There is a lot of participation and support from the parents and the entire community.”
Granted, the support of the community and the fact that Trevor’s father is the high school coach - and will be the assistant football coach when Trevor attends next year - play a big role in Trevor’s early interest in sports. But it’s not all about family ties.
“I have never been pushed into anything,” says Trevor. “My parents support me, my mom drives me to all the practices every day and washes all my uniforms, but if I wanted to drop a sport, that would be my choice, not theirs.”
Trevor’s typical day begins at 6:30 AM in the weight room, three days a week. After-school practices are usually five days a week, and sometimes last until after 8 PM. He doesn’t miss having free time because his sports are his social time. “Most of my friends are in sports. We push each other a lot. They try to beat me in everything! But it’s healthy competition so we all improve. I also have friends who aren’t in sports. Grades come first for our athletes, so I take my academics just as seriously. I’ve found that learning to make it to practices and workouts has helped me get my assignments in on time.”
What the Future Holds
“At my age it’s way too early to think about what sport or career path I may eventually follow,” says Trevor. “Right now it’s all about having fun and working hard.”
Trevor isn’t the only student in Greencastle to feel this way. His dad has been advocating this philosophy to kids for the entire 33 years of his coaching career. “Trevor is participating in more sports than anyone I’ve ever seen, but we have many kids in multiple sports. Kids lose interest between middle and high school. I don’t agree with the parents who come out yelling and screaming at every Little League game making their kids think they are the next Babe Ruth. They should just let the kids play. The coaches are here to do the rest, to keep things in perspective.”
That attitude has helped maintain a very low injury rate among Greencastle school athletes. “I’ve been using parts of the BFS program for at least 30 years of my coaching career,” says John. “We use the Olympic lifts, dot drill, plyometrics, box squats, towel bench - basically we use all their lifts, and we use them for every student regardless of the sport. The program practically eliminates joint or knee injuries. Most of our athletes wear belts, but we try to encourage them to go without them. Trevor has never worn a belt, and he’s fine without it.”
Trevor does not consider himself exceptional. He considers himself a hard worker who is secure that the work will pay off in a good career and a good life for himself. However, that attitude is truly exceptional in today’s world.
Everyone has heard about this generation of “exes,” from x-tremes to x-games. In Trevor’s world, however, it’s a choice between another set of exes: EXpanded horizons or EXcuses. Trevor has clearly made his choice to explore as many opportunities as possible and keep excuses from ever stopping him from becoming the best he can be.