CONCEIVE IT, BELIEVE IT, ACHIEVE IT! (Whitewater Middle School)
Whitewater Middle School in Fayetteville, Georgia has caught the vision of what any school at any level can do when everyone is focused. Their facility, administrators, coaches and community members<
By Mike Vena, Whitewater Football Coach
Published: Summer 2000
The students at Whitewater Middle School in Fayetteville, Georgia are challenged to have dreams and set goals. Mike Vena tells his students that it is important to believe their dreams and goals can be accomplished, but they must be willing to pay the price of hard work and perseverance. Mike Vena has demonstrated the reality of this message by developing the Whitewater weight room and strength program.
Two years ago Whitewater did not have either a strength training program or a weight room. The school was overflowing with students and space for a strength and conditioning facility was out of the question. When a new middle school was built for the 1997-98 academic year overcrowding was relieved. Coach Vena requested permission to convert two partitioned classrooms in the rear of the gym into a weight training facility. Whitewater’s principals supported the concept, the program, and the facility’s development.
There were no school funds available. The school’s PTO and Athletic Booster Club began the weight room project with donations of time, money, and equipment. Several businesses have continued progress with their support. Avery Dennison, Cooper Lighting, EMC, Radio Shack, NCR, Wal-Mart, The Sports Authority, C.Y.D. Home Health Care, Play It Again Sports, and Fayette Floor and Wall were just a few of the companies who assisted in making the dream of creating a weight room at Whitewater Middle School a reality.
Sandra Kidd, Whitewater’s new principal, was a key figure in the progress of the facility. Her connection to Bud Jones of Australian Body Works provided the school with a significant contribution of equipment for the 1999 - 2000 school year.
Whitewater’s fitness facility has developed into a 1,640 square foot weight room that contains $175,000 worth of free-weights, weight stack machines, hydraulic exercise machines, spin cycles, Reebok Steps, Dot Drill Pads, computerized body composition scales and other equipment.
The two major components of the physical education fitness program are weight training taught by Mike Vena and aerobic training taught by Jill Collins. All seventh and eight grade students are required to participate in the program. Sixth graders are introduced to the program in their second semester at Whitewater.
Every six weeks a new weight training class begins with one week of safety and technique instruction. Students receive written weight training guidelines which are used as study notes. The BFS Safety video is shown to every class followed by demonstrations of lifting and spotting techniques. Safety and proper technique are emphasized repeatedly in Whitewater’s weight training program.
One group of students lifts weights three days per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and does aerobic training the other two days (Tuesday and Thursday). A second group has aerobics three days and lifts weights the remaining two days. The groups are developed through the students’ choice of emphasis. Students must use a weight that allows them to perform their repetitions with perfect technique. High repetition training is the method of exercise used in the program. Instructions on proper lifting and spotting techniques are reviewed daily in class.
There is an effort to incorporate other subject areas into weight training. Anatomy and physiology are key subjects because the students can learn the names and locations of the muscles and how they adapt to stress. Physics is related to weight training because of gravity and inertia. Geometry and general math are associated with weight training through joint and lifting angles and calculation of percentages.
The Athletes and
Several Whitewater athletes have begun arriving before school starts, to lift weights under the watchful eyes of Coach Vena, demonstrating a high level of commitment. Their efforts should pay them great dividends in high school. Goals are set to improve strength (core lifts), power (vertical jump), speed (40 yard dash), and agility (Dot Drill).
The classes also have female students in attendance. “We have always had good female athletes who have taken pride in conditioning,” says Coach Vena. Many of the females who hold weight training records are cheerleaders. “We have to educate these young people to overcome some of the negative myths that have been attached to weight training,” says Vena.
The coaches and physical education teachers of Fayette County Schools were fortunate to have Jim Brown, Strength and Conditioning Coach at Poplar Bluff Senior High School in Missouri, present a BFS Clinic in February. Coach Brown worked with coaches and athletes from various schools in Fayette County on the BFS Program. Coach Vena will use Jim Brown’s efforts to generate a greater desire within the athletes to improve physically and raise student involvement in the weight training program by challenging the athletes to break personal records and recognize their success. “We would like to evolve into model programs such as the ones at Poplar Bluff Junior and Senior High Schools,” says Coach Vena.
Closer to home, Rising Starr Middle School and Starr’s Mill High School provide excellent examples of model programs. The Starr’s Mill program was in place and running before they had a school facility. Starr’s Mill head football coach, Mike Earwood ordered weight training equipment and had it delivered to Whitewater where he operated his summer strength and conditioning program. The desire to improve athletes remains a high priority at Starr’s Mill. The coaches, athletes, and parents moved all the strength and conditioning equipment six times before housing a permanent location for their program. This desire to attain strength, power, speed and agility is what Coach Vena seeks to instill in his athletes.
Whitewater’s facility transformed from classrooms to bare walls to the achievement of a dream through hard work and determination. Whitewater Middle School has demonstrated that with the proper amount of effort and perseverance, Upper Limit success can be accomplished.
“Students who consistently participate in the weight training program have made physical improvements. Students need the opportunity to workout in the weight room on a regular basis.” –Coach Vena