“Do you even lift, bro?”: Athletes clock hours in weight room, compete for spot on leader board

Matt Antonic, Sports Editor

It’s a phrase that today’s youth, especially males, have become plenty accustomed to: “Do you even lift, bro?”
For the boys on the Blue Valley football team, the answer is a definitive yes, and then some. There is a reason as to how everyone on the team seems to be walking out of their training sessions looking like they are prepared for a cage fight — weights.
In order to ensure proper strength and fitness is attained, the players participate in a demanding weights program, one that takes energy, strength and commitment.
Spending time on different types of weights and equipment — dumbbells, bench, lift and squats — the team works to build muscles on a daily basis.
The team switches from arms to legs every other day.
While other students are sleeping at all hours of their summer, the players are doing anything but, with many coming in daily to train in the weight room.
“Sophomores through seniors come in at 6 o’clock to about 10 o’clock in the summer,” football coach Eric Driskell said.
That’s right, getting up before 6 a.m. in the summer to go lift weights.
It all spells out one word: commitment.
“Oh yes, it’s a ton of commitment,” Driskell said. “During the season, if they don’t have a weights class, we still come in a couple days a week and work.”
Driskell said he is impressed with the players’ dedication.
“In the off-season, we do come in every day,” he said.
During the season, a typical day includes a weightlifting session in the morning or during weights class and full-pad practice after school.
In 2012, a new competition was introduced by the coaching staff to recognize the achievements in the categories of bench press, deadlift and squat. On top of that, the 1,000 Pound Club was created for the players with the highest sum of bench, deadlift and squats to earn a top spot.
Offensive tackle junior AJ Harris said the leaderboard provides clear motivation for the players.
“Everybody wants to be on the leaderboard, and I think it helps push everyone a little bit harder,” he said.
The leaderboard in the weight room displays the top benchers, lifters and squatters.
“It helps to give them an incentive to maybe set a record and to try and get on the leaderboard,” Driskell said.
The players aren’t all simply thrown into a dogfight to see who is the strongest.
The leaderboard separates the classes by weight.
“We break it up by weight class,” Driskell said, “So we have the smaller guys taking on the smaller guys and the bigger guys taking on the bigger guys.”

Current Weight Room Leaders

Record Holder: senior Jalen Cooks — 515 lbs.
Junior AJ Harris — 455 lbs.
Senior Steven Cargin — 385 lbs.
Senior Henry McGrew — 385 lbs.

Record Holder: McGrew/Harris — 290 lbs.
Senior Marcus Zimmerman — 245 lbs.
Cooks — 225 lbs.
Senior Blake Freeman — 225 lbs.

Record Holder: McGrew — 380 lbs.
Cooks — 355 lbs.
Freeman — 315 lbs.
Harris — 300 lbs.

Record Holder: Cooks — 1,300 lbs.
McGrew — 1,270 lbs.
Harris — 1,250 lbs.
Freeman — 1,150 lbs.
*1,000 Pound Club combines squat, deadlift and bench into one sum.