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News: A Huge Lift for Sacremento High
Topic: News: A Huge Lift for Sacremento High (Read 507 times)
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News: A Huge Lift for Sacremento High
Aug 31, 2007, 08:12 AM »
A Huge Lift for Sacremento High
An Olympic weightlifting program has not only strengthened those who have taken part, it may turn around a struggling football team
By Bill Paterson
Thanks to the enthusiasm of a charismatic coach, a new world has opened to Donovan Ford, Clinton Johnson and dozens of other Sacramento High School athletes.
It also has turned Sacramento's oldest high school into a mecca of Olympic-style weightlifting and might help reverse the fortunes of the long-struggling football program as its season opener looms.
Donovan Ford won a silver medal in a national Olympic-style
weightlifting event this summer. The football team's Defensive MVP
last season would like to lift in college. Photo by Autumn Cruz.
Led by Ford and several other Sac High rookie lifters, the Hassle Free Weightlifting Club earlier this summer won the 14-15 boys age group, 16-17 boys and overall titles in the School Age Weightlifting National Championships in Springfield, Mo.
Much of the credit goes to Paul Doherty, a veritable pied piper of weight training so dedicated he has dipped into his own pocket for more than $25,000 to help outfit the school's cramped weight room, and to take his club lifters to major meets throughout the country.
Doherty, 25, teaches two popular advanced physical education classes and is an assistant under second-year football coach Doug Cosbie, the former NFL tight end who coached Doherty at Menlo College.
"He has made a tremendous difference with our program in one year," Cosbie said. "A lot of coaches will donate their time, but giving their time and their money is above and beyond."
When it comes to heavy metal, Doherty knows of what he preaches.
The San Francisco native is a talented lifter who has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Trials in May and hopes to compete in Beijing next summer.
"I coach, teach a couple of classes and train the rest of the time," Doherty said. "The school has been gracious enough to accommodate my schedule with everything that's on my plate."
Doherty started working to build the strength of the football team in the spring of 2006, though now he's attracting other students, including several girls, from throughout the charter-school campus.
He trains 80 students, 31 of whom are also involved in the year-round club program that his brother Kevin Doherty, the assistant football coach and strength conditioning coach at San Francisco's Lincoln High, founded several years ago.
Through it all, Paul Doherty has discovered teenagers will respond to a challenge, especially if they can see tangible results.
"The workouts are grueling," Doherty said. "We crush the kids every day. But it's great to see these kids' sense of confidence grow and that with hard work they can be successful."
Sac High sophomore Kyle Saelee is one of two Dragons
competing for the U.S. team this week. Photo by Autumn Cruz.
He now has 20 students on a waiting list and is eying the adjoining wrestling room for expansion.
Ford, the Dragons' Defensive MVP last football season as a junior, is so sold on his newfound love he is considering pursuing the sport in college.
"It's a lot different than regular lifting, such as the bench press and squats," the linebacker-offensive lineman said. "It's more exciting because the lifting we do is more about technique, agility and explosiveness."
There are two disciplines in Olympic lifting -- the snatch and the clean and jerk. The snatch involves bringing a weighted bar from the ground to an extended position over the head, all in one movement, and the clean and jerk from the ground, to the shoulders, then extended above the head.
"The entire movement of the barbell is strictly your ability," Doherty said. "It strengthens the entire body."
Although he has been doing Olympic-style lifting for a little more than a year, Ford earned a silver medal in the 16-17 age group 187-pound weight class at high school nationals.
Ford and senior football teammate Keylin Mackey, who took bronze at 169 pounds, received an all-expenses-paid trip for a week in July to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
"I never thought anything of that magnitude would ever happen to me," Ford said. "It was really a great experience to be around some of the best athletes in the United States."
Two others -- Johnson, who earned gold in the 14-15 age group 169-pound class, and Kyle Saelee, that division's 154-pound gold medalist -- are in Campeche, Mexico, this week competing for the U.S. team in the Sub-15 Pan American Championships.
"The first time I started, I could barely snatch 40 kilos (88 pounds)," said Johnson, a running back and cornerback who is the only sophomore on the varsity this season. "It was so frustrating that I almost gave up.
"But now I'm pretty excited about it. I get to compete for the U.S., and you are always pushing yourself because you want to get a personal best."
Ford and Johnson said all the lifting they and their teammates have done will translate to improvement on the football field. They can't wait for the 2 p.m. season opener Saturday at home against Alisal of Salinas.
"It definitely helps," Johnson said. "Now when I put on the pads, I'm hitting a lot harder than last year."
Added Ford: "I'm playing at a whole other level. But more than anything, it's made me mentally stronger."
The discipline of juggling football practices and seven-day-a-week workouts has helped Ford develop the discipline that has carried over to the classroom.
While Ford hopes to play football in college on scholarship, Doherty said he will have an even better shot at landing a weightlifting scholarship.
"Once the scholarships came into the picture, I've really focused on my grades," Ford said. "I was barely making a 2.0 when I was first here. Last semester I got a 3.5, and I'm aiming for a 4.0 this year."
Ford sees others on his team starting to get their act together, too. That's why he says there will be a huge improvement in the team's football fortunes after finishing 3-7 last season.
"Everybody is committed to getting us into the playoffs," Ford said.
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Re: News: A Huge Lift for Sacremento High
Reply #1 on:
Aug 31, 2007, 10:39 AM »
There are a lot of kids in that program. I competed at the Kono Open, that they hosted, and it took over 4 hrs from starting snatch warmups to finishing the jerk, which I missed my first two attempts, barely made the third with two whites. It was also at least 90 degrees for most of the time. They do have a lot of equipment there. Also a bunch of platforms. High schools are definitely the way to recruit lifters, but I guess the coach has to be willing to foot the $25,000 bill! :)cry
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News: A Huge Lift for Sacremento High
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