President's Message Fall 2001
Another True Eleven
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 2001
I received a letter from Cavan Sullivan of Porta High School in Petersburg, Illinois. He is an 18-year old senior getting ready for his senior year of football. Cavan stated that he enjoyed reading the BFS Magazine and the Be An Eleven Guidebook. “I love playing football almost more than anything in the entire world,” explained Cavan with a passion, “but yesterday I was shocked. A sports doctor told me that I would never be able to play another game of football in my life. I was diagnosed with three bulged disks and one ruptured disk in my lower back.
“I did not know what to do. Last night I prayed on finding a solution to my problem, and I woke up this morning with the idea of writing this letter. I am somewhat lost on what I should do to mend this injury. Of the ‘thousand days’ I had left as a freshman, I only have 140 left today. I want to make the most of them.
“I started lifting as an eighth grader and have had about 100% attendance since then. The doctor said that I must stop lifting immediately, but as team captain I want to set a good example for the younger guys. If you have any information as to what stretches, exercises, etc. I should do to fix this injury so it does not effect ‘the song I came to earth to play’ please feel free to call or write anytime.
“A true test of toughness is not how well you do when things are going good, it is how hard you fight when things are going bad. This injury will not stop me. Thank you and God bless.”
Previously, I wrote about “only a thousand days left” with the idea to make every day count. Cavan grasped this concept. Being an eleven is about making the most of life, being an example, being fully committed in order to play the song you came on earth to play. Cavan clearly has internalized these ideas that are so important in the BFS philosophy. I had to call Cavan.
It didn’t take long to confirm that Cavan was a true eleven. Cavan, of course, needed to follow the advice of his doctor but I did give him the following suggestions: That he could continue to play this part of his song by becoming a great assistant coach in the weight room with his teammates, especially the younger kids, that he should prepare himself, like an eleven, in all areas that could be approved by his doctor. These areas included the dot drill, stretching, sprinting, watching films, etc. I also suggested that he might be able to bench press with his knees up in the air over his hips and to do straight leg dead lifts with just the bar; one set of ten everyday.
Doing benches in this manner will be lower back friendly. The extremely light straight leg dead lifts will not only stretch and strengthen Cavan’s hamstrings and glutes but it will strengthen the muscles in his lower back. Since squatting and power cleans were out of the question, I suggested that he get a Glute-Ham machine and a Quad Blaster. Thus his legs could be strengthened without stressing his vertebrae.
Cavan reported back to me with about 90 days left. The doctor was extremely impressed. Cavan had made more progress than the doctor thought possible. I told Cavan to increase his straight leg dead lift poundage to 65 pounds and to do two sets of ten reps.
It is now just a month and a half from the time Cavan sent the letter. He has made tremendous gains. He is now at football camp and is doing great. The pain he was feeling in his legs and hip flexors from pressure on his sciatic nerve is now gone. He can run and jump. At the end of the day, Cavan’s back does ache a little but with stretching and a good nights sleep, that pain is gone by morning and he is ready for the new day. Cavan said he couldn’t thank me enough for the advice, but I think the thanks should go to Cavan for his outstanding example.