Making Room For State Champions at Mt. Olive High School
The Mount Olive High School Marauders stepped out of the hallway and into a championship-making weight room
By Kim Goss
Published: Fall 2003
We get letters!
At BFS, one of the most satisfying aspects of our job is opening the mail and reading glowing reports of how BFS helps coaches turn losing programs into winning ones. At the end of the 2002 football season we received one such letter from Kevin Stansberry, the Director of Athletics at Mount Olive High School in Flanders, New Jersey. Talk about enthusiastic!
In 2001 the Marauders had finished the season at 2-8, which was actually an improvement over the year before, when they had lost every single game. School pride dictated that such scores would not be repeated in the 2002 season.
Mount Olive High School is one of the six schools that service the 4,600 students in the Mount Olive Township School District, and like most schools in the US, it is on a strict budget. Prior to 2002, the football players were the only athletes who lifted weights, and they were lifting in the hallways—literally. Every day after school when the other athletes had gone to their practices and the remaining students had gone home, the team brought out their equipment from storage and lifted in a hallway area of approximately 14 feet by 20 feet. Deciding that their athletes deserved better than a hallway if they were to reverse their performance, the school looked around for a way to provide a weight room and a new program that would get results. A basement area that had once housed cosmetology classes was just the ticket. In May of 2002 the athletes were ushered into their new weight room, a 2,100-square-foot facility that would enable them to fully implement the BFS program.
After taking out the shelves and sinks, the Marauders’ head football coach, James Kramer, filled the room primarily with economical BFS equipment, including five power clean stations, four squat racks, three bench press stations and one incline bench press station. The athletes made striking improvements immediately. According to Kramer, prior to moving to the new facility, the team had only one athlete who could power clean 225. By the end of the first summer, they had 15.
The following year Mount Olive opened the season with a 1-point loss, but came charging back with 11 straight victories, winning their first-ever state championship! Coach Kramer was selected as the Star Ledger Football Coach of the Year for the entire state of New Jersey. In Director Stansberry’s letter about his school’s miracle season, he wrote, “We feel very strongly that following the Bigger Faster Stronger program had a major positive impact on our program. We thought that you would like to hear about our success and BFS’s role in that success.”
Continuing in more detail, Stansberry told us that he thought there were three major factors responsible for such an amazing turnaround. The first, which extended over a three-year period, was to acquire high-quality coaches to administer the football program. The second was to increase the number of participants in the program. And the third was completing a weight room that would enable them to properly implement the BFS program.
“For several years our head coach tried to administer a Bigger Faster Stronger routine, but with our limited resources we did not fully realize our potential,” says Stansberry. “Once the facility became available, Coach Kramer utilized every element of the Bigger Faster Stronger way! As a result, Mount Olive High School experienced their greatest season of football ever.”
In addition to his team fulfilling their football goals, Stansberry discovered the value of having a unified approach to conditioning. “Two years ago we added a gender-specific session to our weight room operation and the dividends have had a tremendous positive impact on our female sports programs as well. Our head football coach, who doubles as our strength and conditioning coordinator, ran our female student-athletes through the same BFS routine!”
After explaining to the girls that they would not develop muscles like the Hulk, the girls embraced the program. Kramer said they were very shy at first, but then they just took off. He says they especially love the push press and the power clean. In fact, everybody loved it to the extent that despite an enrollment of 1,300 students, over 600 athletes use the weight room every year!
As Mount Olive High School enters the 2003 season anxious to defend its state championship title, we thank Director Stansberry for taking the time to tell his school’s inspirational story. And for putting it in writing for us to share in this issue!