AS BASIC AS BLACK & WHITE
Ash Fork High School stuck to the basics that are as simple as black & white when establishing a new weightlifting program and found that they beat the odds.
By Matt Shepard and Keith McGee
Published: Fall 1998
The phrase "quality is better than quantity" certainly rings true for a little school in Ash Fork Arizona. With only a student population of 56, Ash Fork High School was able to beat the odds. Back in the fall of 1995 Ash Fork High School's weight lifting/physical education program was meager, at best, making their athletic department last in their conference. Their weightroom was next to bare with just a universal machine, a set of dumbbells up to only 25 pounds, one small squat rack, and two flimsy benches to fill the space. Outside of ad-libbing from who ever happened to be teaching weights at the time, there was no organized weightlifting program.
Then, under the direction of Ash Forks Athletic Director, Keith McGee, things began to change. Keith excitedly recalls the transformation, "the Bigger Faster Stronger program was implemented with additional Olympic lifts and the results are the stuff of legends. The results were immediate. A weightlifting team was established and records were set by the first grading period. Numerous weightlifting meets were attended and trophies were won." The new ethical code of hard work and dedication established by Keith and his students was evolving Ash Fork and it's little school from just an unheard-of spec on a map to an awe-inspiring, respected establishment.
After a lot of intense training and hard work, Coach McGee's girls were full of desire and ready to take on the world. By the fall of 1997 three of Keith's girls qualified for and competed in the American Open. This competition is a National, Olympic style, weightlifting event in which the lifters have to make qualifying totals in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk lifts prior to the event just to be allowed to compete. Ash Fork High's Erika Acosta (Jr.), Evelina Acosta (Sr.), and Kristal Raney (Sr.) made up one half of the entire State of Arizona team.
Later, in June of 1998, Lacey Campbell accompanied Erika Acosta to the Arizona State Games on the Ash Fork weightlifting team. They both performed superbly. Lacy competed in and won the gold medal in the 69 kilo class in the 16 and under division. Her best snatch lift was 45 kilos (99 lbs.) and her best clean and jerk lift was 60 kilos (133 lbs.) For a 105 kilo (231 lb.) total. Erika was also in the 69 kilo class, but participated in and won the 17-20 age group. She had a 52.5 kilo (115 lb.) snatch and a 65 kilo (143 lb.) Clean and jerk for a 117.5 kilo (259 lb.) total.
With the help of Lacey and Erika, the Ash Fork Spartan Weightlifting Team was able to win that portion of the Arizona Olympics. Coach McGee explains, "to understand the immensity of this accomplishment, one must see the whole picture. There were over twelve thousand athletes in the Grand Canyon State Games and nearly sixty in the weightlifting portion of these Olympics. Ash Fork High School has only fifty-six students in the entire student body. The old saying that best sums up this accomplishment is: It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. This is certainly apropos."
Coach McGee's athletes are outstanding individuals with hearts of gold. Their dedication and desire will take them as far as they are willing to go, there is no limit. To help you see what they have been able to accomplish so far, here is a list of the girls and their achievements:
Erika Acosta, a 5' 8", 154 lb. Junior, has continued to blossom under this program. As of May 14, 1998 her max lifts are: a 125 pound snatch, a 240 pound squat, a 125 pound bench, and a 155 pound clean. Erika is the dominant female athlete of the 1A schools in Arizona. She has made 1st team all conference and MVP in volleyball, basketball, and track. She placed third in the state track meet in both the shot and discus. Erika has won the outstanding female athlete award the last two years at Ash Fork. Erika Acosta was especially tough in basketball. She averaged over 17 points and rebounds per game for her junior year. She even scored a double double in regionals with a dislocated toe; talk about a high threshold of pain. At a 3.85 GPA, Erika Acosta epitomizes the scholar athlete.
Heather Rudnick is 5' 4", 104 lbs. She is another junior who is a scholar/athlete with a 4.25 GPA. In spite of her lack of size, basketball is Heather's best sport. Heather improved from a 90 lb. 7 ppg. passive athlete, to an aggressive 104 lb. 14.45 ppg. leader. Heather has earned MVP in volleyball, basketball and softball as well as 1st team all conference in each of these sports. Her best lifts include: a 70 lb. snatch, a 75 lb. bench, a 155 lb. squat, and a 105 lb. clean. Notice that she can clean over her body weight.
Another up and coming athlete is super sophomore Lacey Campbell. She has not been in weights as long as Erika but caught on fast and has some impressive stats of her own. Lacey has a 115 lb. snatch, a 135 lb. bench, a 205 lb. squat, and a 135 lb. clean. She is an outstanding hitter in volleyball, earning a varsity letter as a freshman. She is especially good as a pitcher in softball. At the early age of 13 she was clocked at 67 mph. Because of her great talent in softball, she was invited to travel with the Northern Arizona Traveling Super Stars.
Leslie Lemke is 5' 8.5" and 132 lbs. She has a 3.50 GPA and is another sophomore that has benefitted greatly from the BFS program. Leslie has had the least amount of time in the weight room having only lifted for one school year, however, she has responded well and has grown into an aggressive, dedicated athlete. She has lettered in Volleyball and Basketball both years of high school. Leslie added Softball to her resume of athletics during the 1997/98 school year. She has a 75 lb. snatch, a 165 lb. squat, a 110 lb. clean, and an 85 lb. bench.
Freshman Sandy Henderson, at 5' 2" and 128 lbs., is the shortest lifter but by no means the weakest. Sandy has prospered greatly due to weight training. In one school year on the BFS program, Sandy has a 75 lb. snatch, a 105 lb. bench, a 200 lb. squat, and a 120 lb. clean.
"For the first time in eleven years," explains Coach McGee, " our volleyball team advanced to the state regionals. All of the heavy hitters are on this program. This training has greatly improved their vertical jump, overall strength & conditioning, and explosiveness. Major injuries have almost ceased to exist. As more and more athletes see the amazing results our kids have made they are flooding the classes. Keep an eye out for Ash Fork, on the BFS program, the sky's the limit."
Coach McGee has each class begin with a 400 meter warm up jog, followed by the BFS 1-2-3-4 stretching routine. Agility drills, such as the BFS Dot Drill, follow stretching. Depending on the day of the week, either lifting or the plyometric/sprint workout ends the intense activity of the class period followed by a slow jog and final stretch. Coach McGee exclaims, "the organization of the BFS program is what sets this program apart from so many others. The Set-Rep Log books not only allow each student to chart their progress but they also allow me to pretest and post-test each student for an entire semester. I also use the log books as a student planner and count them as ten-to-fifteen percent of their overall grade."
Coach McGee has done a superb job with that little school from Ash Fork, Arizona. As his athletes continue to push the limits, they will pioneer a standard of excellence to be followed by all. Coach McGee says, "Several articles in previous BFS magazines served as motivators for my students. They anxiously await the next subscription so they can compare themselves to the athletes in that magazine. Now that we are in your fall edition I'm sure that other schools will use us as an impetus to join the growing ranks of weight lifters around the country." May we follow the example of these dedicated girls and beat the odds.