FLYING HIGH WITH THE SMYRNA EAGLES
How BFS and a great booster club are helping athletes at a small school become big winners
By Kim Goss
Published: Fall 2002
Located in a rural community surrounded by farmland, Smyrna High School in Smyrna, Delaware, has only about 900 students. Until recently, athletes from this school usually didn’t attract much attention outside the city limits. But through hard work, community support and the recent addition of the BFS Total Program, the Smyrna High School Eagles are making their presence felt throughout the entire state.
Take, for example, the girls’ basketball team. Not only did they have a great regular season, but they also made it to the second-round in the state tournament for the first time in the school’s history. Not to be outdone, the boys’ basketball team also competed in the state tournament, the first time since 1993. Then there’s the girls’ field hockey team, which advanced to the second round of the state tournament for the first time in a decade; and the boys’ baseball team, which reached the state tournament for the first time in five years. As Bob Dylan says, “The times, they are a’ changin’.”
Although there are many factors contributing to the recent success of Smyrna High School athletes, head wrestling coach and physical education teacher Clay Lloyd believes that much of the improvement can be attributed to adopting the BFS program two years ago. “The overall attitude, work ethic and confidence level of our athletes have improved across the board, and I believe this is a direct reflection of instituting the BFS Program.”
Prior to 2000, Smyrna coaches such as Lloyd developed their own conditioning programs. “Because I had few resources to draw from locally, I had my athletes doing the weightlifting program that I had used when I went to high school,” says Lloyd. “Then I saw BFS magazine and started reading up on the BFS Total Program. As a ‘package deal’ for our entire athletic program, BFS seemed like a perfect fit. We could individualize the workouts for each sport, and it would enable us to be successful very quickly because it has all those practical resources such as workout cards and teaching videos.”
Lloyd, who this year coached his grapplers to a second place finish in the state tournament for teams (Division II), began the conversion to BFS by implementing the program in his regular weight training class. This class was attended by regular and special education students, and a few athletes. It quickly became one of the school’s most popular classes. “The class was so successful that I took it to the athletic director, and he agreed with me that the BFS Program should be available to all our athletes.” Fast-forward to the present: Lloyd says that at least one in four students at Smyrna is on the BFS program. And the participation continues to grow.
When Lloyd first converted his athletes to BFS, he started with the BFS workout cards. Soon he switched to the Beat the Computer program. “The workout cards are great, but the Beat the Computer program dramatically reduced the amount of time I had to spend with record keeping,” says Lloyd. “Before the BFS Beat the Computer program, my athletes and weight training class students occupied much of my time with questions such as ‘How much should I start with?’ and ‘How much should I lift on my next set?’ The computer program answers those questions, and it’s easy to adjust if the weights were too light or too heavy. These advantages saved a lot of time and allowed me to focus on other aspects of coaching.”
In addition to enthusiastically following the BFS workout, the Eagles have also embraced the BFS Be An Eleven program. “We take lessons and messages from the Be An Eleven Guidebook for Success and try to instill those ideals within our athletes.”
Getting a Boost
Another edge the weight training program at Smyrna has over many other schools is an active and enthusiastic booster club, the Smyrna High School Athletic Boosters. “Our booster club fully supports the BFS program,” says Lloyd. “They agreed that the BFS Program was the perfect avenue to support all our athletic programs in one activity: The Boosters have purchased specific items for particular teams---and they continue to do so---but all our athletes and even much of the rest of the student body benefits from BFS.”
One way Smyrna High’s booster club offers support is by providing awards for outstanding performances in the weight room. “We base our awards on the BFS standards. If an athlete achieves All-State honors, they receive a
T-shirt or shorts with the BFS logo; if they achieve All-American honors, they receive BFS sweatshirts or sweatpants. The Boosters have also purchased BFS equipment such as the plyometric boxes and the Just Jump and Run computer system, and have sponsored two BFS clinics conducted by Bobby Poss,” says Lloyd.
Smyrna High School has been educating students and training athletes for over 30 years, and the booster club has been there since the beginning, with approximately 15-20 members actively involved at any given time. Its organizational structure includes a president, currently Judy Horn, along with a vice president, secretary and treasurer. Its membership includes parents, coaches and other caring members of the community who want to help young athletes achieve their goals. To raise money, the Boosters hold a golf tournament in the spring, run the concession stands at home sporting events, sell merchandise (such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, umbrellas and seat cushions) and sell advertising space in the football programs.
At present, Smyrna High’s athletes must lift in a multipurpose facility, a room that is used for many other functions, including wrestling practice. But thanks to a referendum recently passed by its school district, Smyrna High School will soon have a room exclusively devoted to sports conditioning. It will be approximately 30 by 70 feet, and will allow more students to train at once.
Besides the overall improvement in the teams’ performance, there are many athletes that Lloyd says merit individual recognition. One is senior Andre Mears. A member of the varsity football and basketball teams, Mears is ranked in the top 15th percentile of his class academically. “Andre epitomizes what an Eleven should be,” says Lloyd. “He’s a leader in the weight room, and he is always willing to help teach and motivate new athletes in the program. He’s also a hard worker, and this year improved his 40 time by 2/10ths, and added 65 pounds to his Hex bar max and 95 pounds to his parallel squat.”
Another standout is Justin Ritter, a junior who increased his bench press 60 pounds this past year to break an APAWPA world record for his age group (255 pounds at 165 pounds bodyweight). Another junior, Thomas Wright, increased his power clean by 60 pounds and his squat by 75 pounds last year. “After a discussion with clinician Bobby Poss, I began holding a fitness competition in May that tests athletes on the bench press, parallel squat, NFL shuttle, 40-yard sprint, and the Smyrna shuttle [a 300-yard shuttle, broken down into 30-yard sprints]. The athletes received points for the weights lifted and fastest running times. This year the best performance was by Thomas Wright, followed by Justin Ritter and Andre Mears.”
Although Smyrna had no state championship teams this year, Lloyd says he is expecting great things from the athletes who will be on the BFS program throughout their entire high school terms. Indeed, the Smyrna Eagles have already transformed themselves into state-caliber competitors ready to soar high.