GETTING AN EARLY START
Robbie Shirley started BFS in the 5th grade and is now a 6'1" 207 pound sixteen-year-old powerhouse
By Matt Shepard
Published: Fall 1998
During the month of May, a copy of the 1998 summer edition of the BFS Journal was circulating around Bloomington South High School in Bloomington Indiana. It featured the BFS Football All-American Team. "I was proud," said sophomore, Robbie Shirley, " to find that the Panthers were well represented by first team selection Shane Moat and third team selection Nick Dunbar.
Both of these players have worked hard to improve themselves and accomplish the things they have in the weight room. They have set a standard for other Panthers to strive for. They are a good example for me personally as to how there is no replacement for hard work. I appreciate the work that all the athletes featured in this years edition have done to get to where they are. I also appreciated BFS compiling this information for everyone to use in improving as individuals." Robbie feels it is important to recognize the talents and hard work of others and has made it a point to emulate those characteristics in bettering himself.
Robbie has developed an incredible work ethic and has set such a high standard for himself that success is inevitable. When asked how he goes about setting such high goals for himself, he replied with a thankful tone, "Your publications have been something that I have looked forward to reviewing over the past several years. They have provided me with the standards, information, and motivation I need to set my personal goals. These goals are definitely helping me improve and be a better football player. Each year it has been a great tool for me in learning about the progress I am making compared with others my age around the nation. It also makes it more fun and encourages me to work even harder when I am humbled by the numbers of athletes like David Harvey-Bowen [a BFS First Team All-America] who is going to play football at Western Kentucky University where my father also played."
Robbie feels that getting started early was a key factor in getting to where he is today. When asked how he got started he answered, "I was first made aware of your BFS Total Program when I was in the fifth grade. Gary Sylvester, from Greenwood Indiana, is a friend of our family and had his boys Nick and Andrew using your BFS Total Program book and Set-Rep Log books when they were in Jr. High. He showed the books to me and my family and I ordered them. When the books arrived I didn't have a lot of weights at home like I do now, but I started using broom sticks and empty bars to do the box squats that are explained in the books. I asked Kevin King, the varsity football coach where I used to go to school, if I could come in a use the school weight room. He said yes and encouraged me and a friend to start lifting there. I thought it was a good thing being in the weight room with all of the varsity players, even though [laughing] at times I was probably in their way since I was only a sixth grader."
Because of his early dedication and hard work, Robbie started out his high school career with a bang. In recollection of his freshman year he said, "I was fortunate to compete with the seniors; I was benching 250, power cleaning 275, and earned a starting spot at fullback on the varsity football team. I knew then, just how much getting started early in lifting weights really helped me. I also knew I still had a lot more work to do if I wanted to accomplish my goal of playing college football."
Robbie is now 6' 1" and weighs 207 pounds. He ran the forty yard dash in 4.58 seconds. In the weight room, his personal bests just keep getting better; his parallel squat is now 405 pounds, his bench is 305, and he is cleaning 300. Robbie also believes that education is very important and because of his hard work in the classroom and his dedication to his studies, he was able to attain a 3.7 GPA.
Robbie has accomplished a lot in the past few years. He participated in the Jr. Olympics in New Orleans and won a silver medal in Olympic Weightlifting. In March of ‘97 he just missed the bronze medal by 5kg in the Jr. Nationals competing against people a year older than him. However, he was selected to represent the United States in a 16 year old and under International competition in Canada and took home the gold. In baseball, Robbie was voted "Defensive Player of the Midwest Region Tournament" in the Pony League three years ago. His 8th grade year he went 16-0 in wrestling and was the County Champ. He also ran track and competed in the 100m, 100m low hurdles, and relays. "But," he says, "the sport I love the most is football. Everything I do is to help me improve for football."
In football, Robbie is now the running back. He is also on the special teams and punts. He hopes to play some defense next year. About football he says, "I love to hit and I am always working to improve my overall athletic abilities. I have been taught that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words. I have a lot more to prove. I also know that I have to work to get better and I am willing to do that. I consider myself a football player first, ready to play anywhere, ready to learn, ready to help my team win!"
About record keeping, Robbie is a firm believer. "I realize I must keep improving and I am encouraged that I will do so based on the documented progress that I have made since the fifth grade." Whether it be our Set Rep Logs or our Record Cards or even just a piece of paper, it is very important to keep track of your progress. Your records not only give you a sense of progress and accomplishment but they also stand as a constant reminder that you can keep improving and that you can accomplish your goals and dreams.
Another attribute that makes Robbie a cut above the rest is his thankful attitude. He says, "I am thankful for getting your BFS books back then, along with the excellent coaching that I have received over the past few years, the competition my teammates constantly provide, and the positive support of my parents." Robbie feels a great respect and love for all those who have helped him and continue to help him accomplish his goals.
Because of Robbie's great attitude and dedication he will not fail, he will raise above all. Robbie is very excited to continue to prove himself and to get better. About next year's season he excitedly says, "I am looking forward to good things for me and my teammates during the 1998-99 school year. Last year Coach Moriarity's Panthers were ranked nationally in USA Today and played for the state championship. My teammates and I feel that if we stick together and listen to our coaches, we will play for the state championship again and bring back another state title to Bloomington South High School."
Because of his early desire to be the best, coupled with an attitude of dedication and desire, Robbie has proved he can do it. There is no stopping him now.