ALLEGAN HIGH SCHOOL: All-Sport Unification
For years BFS has preached unification. It has been proven time and time again that when all coaches at a school come together and unify their strength programs into one, good, year-round program.
By Matt Shepard
Published: Summer 1999
The “old way” of thinking was that the football team had their strength program, the track team had theirs, the wrestling team had theirs, and so on. Each team had a different program because they each needed to work on “different” things because they are “different” sports which use “different” muscles, etc., etc. The truth of it is, all sports use the same muscles. For example, what makes you run faster - your legs and hips; what makes you jump higher - your legs and hips; what makes you drive harder - your legs and hips; what makes you kick farther - your legs and hips; what makes you hit a ball farther - your legs and hips. The point is, the four core lifts (the squat, bench, clean and hex bar dead lift) are required for improvement in all sports. After the core lifts are completed, then you can mix and match your auxiliary lifts according to sport. For example, a wrestler might want to do a neck exercise, a swimmer might want to work his/her traps, and a runner might want to do some lunges, etc.
The benefits of unifying are far reaching. Under the “old way” of thinking for instance, a three-sport athlete had to learn three different warm-up programs, three different stretching programs and three different weight programs. Now, however, with a school-wide, unified program, a multi-sport athlete can continue throughout the year unhindered by change and differing philosophies. Take an athlete who plays football and basketball for instance. During football he has his football warm-up and stretching program and his football strength training program. After he does these programs for a few weeks he learns the programs and figures out how to make them work best for him and can see just where he stands. After football he then goes onto basketball. If the basketball team has the same program, he won’t have to break the training he started with football and can make a smooth transition to basketball without having to learn new programs and philosophies. Because of this, he won’t lose weeks of precious training time figuring out new programs.
Another benefit of a unified program is that it makes supervising much easier. Most schools have only one weight room for all sports to use. If everyone is in there doing their own thing, it gets difficult to supervise. However, if all athletes are on the same program, it is easier to mix the sports and any coach from any team can step in and supervise all the athletes with no problems. How would it be to know that when you leave your athletes with another sports coach in the weight room, that coach will do the job the way you want it done and the way you would do it with no worries?
You could come up with an endless list of the advantages of having a unified program, however, the best way of proving that it really is the best way is by showing what it has done for schools already. The following is a story that perfectly illustrates the power of unification. This story comes to us from Allegan, Michigan; it is the story of how Allegan High School’s athletic teams came to power. Allegan’s head football coach, Scott Robertson recalls “The dramatic increased success in each of these sports (football, boys basketball, wrestling, and volleyball) is directly related to the fact that since we hosted the BFS 2- Day Clinic, we have adopted a school-wide belief in the program and it is supported by the head coaches in each of these sports.”
The football team had only gone 2-7 the two years previous to their clinic but ended last year with a totally different outcome. They finished the season with their 1st conference championship in 14 years and with the most wins in school history (10). Allegan also had their first ever play-off birth and first ever play-off victory. They ended the year with new team records such as: most yards rushing (3,042), most points scored (367 - that’s even with the starters rarely playing in the 4th quarter), most average yards per reception (20.5) and most total yards of offense (3,983). Coach Robertson was also named State Class B/BB Coach of the Year (first coach in school history to be named) and sophomore Shawn Grigg broke a 21 year-old conference record for most yards per carry (13.6).
Before the clinic and the school’s unification, the basketball team had not won a conference championship in 15 years. Now they have back to back conference championships with a good chance to 3-peat. In the last two seasons Allegan has established some awesome feats: 19 consecutive regular season wins, 20 consecutive conference wins, 20 consecutive regular season home wins, Southwest Michigan Class “B” Team of the Year, BCAM Team State Free-throw Champions, state ranking, and state record for consecutive free throws made (31 in one game, 39 in combined games). Individually they had 6 players make All-Conference with 5 of them being unanimous 1st Team Players. Last season they had three out of the top four leading scorers in the conference. Allegan also had 5 individual school records broken. About their future success, head basketball coach Marty Martens strongly believes, “One of the key ingredients will be in their continuing to follow what we have established with BFS”.
The wrestling team finished the year with great success as well. They ended as the conference team runner-up with 4 athletes qualifying for the state tournament (a 3rd, 4th and 6th place finish). “I have noticed most kids breaking personal records almost weekly,” exclaims head wrestling coach Murray Rose. “Other schools note that our wrestlers tend to be ‘well built’ and stronger than the competition. I think our true success of using the BFS program will be observed over the next few years.”
Last year, the girls volleyball team ended with the second highest win total in school history (31). They were named the District Champions and lost to the State Runner-up after 3 tough games 16 to 14. This great season was topped only by the year before where they were District Champs and made it to the Regional Final. Also, Coach Christine Robertson was named Conference Coach of the year.
“Our Physical Education program has made great strides,” proudly states Coach Marty Martens. “We have grown from two classes of weight lifting to six. Next year we have the possibility of adding two more sections. There are really two main reason that this has happened. We now have a uniform program that everyone is following. That program is BFS. The other is the fact that all of the coaches in the system now buy into the program. They have seen the results that our basketball and football program have had and believe that BFS has had something to do with it.”
About their athletes tremendous strength gains, Coach Scott Robertson excitedly proclaims, “New records are being broken by both our male and female athletes each testing period. We also have the weight room open after school each day for 2 hours and only the BFS system is allowed. We have excellent numbers participating including approximately thirty 8th graders who have already bought in and are getting a jump on their competition. We also have the weight room open 6 hours per day during the summer and it is supervised by a variety of coaches on a volunteer basis.”
Allegan High School has experienced and will continue to experience some amazing results just from the one change of unifying their program. Their future looks better than it ever has before with their program growing like wildfire and their athletes lifting more than ever. Their story is summed up with this quote from Coach Rose, “I am in my 18th year teaching and coaching. I have never seen the interest or physical development among student athletes at the level it is currently at. I see the ‘average athlete’ reaching the higher levels of success.”
Don’t let the old “different is better” way of thinking, pride, fear or whatever it may be,