Northern Vance High The Viking Challange
How Northern Vance High School is using BFS to explore new horizons
By J.D. Kass
Published: Summer 2003
he 2002-2003 school year
saw the Vikings first undefeated season in the history of Northern Vance High School in Henderson, North Carolina. This is only the second time in twenty years that Vance County has seen a perfect season in Class 2A football, and the fifth time it has happened in the history of the county. Head Coach Randy Long attributes the teams recent accomplishments in part to a BFS clinic the team participated in the past spring.
“Helping people is what the program is all about,” says Coach Long about the “Be an 11” philosophy embraced by the Vikings. It’s a good buzz phase that means a lot.” Encouraging excellence both on and off the field, the “Be an 11” attitude has added the Vikings already strong program in becoming even stronger by bettering attitudes and further encouraging effort.
As an example if its effectiveness, coach Long cites a recent event he witnessed: A female student-athlete assisting a physically challenged student who had dropped his books while other people simply walked past. Coach Long approached the student and told her that she was an “11”. He instantly knew that this simple phrase had made a profound impact on the student because her immediate smile.
Coach Long believes that the definition of “being an 11” is best expressed by Dr. Greg Sheppard in his guidebook On a Scale of On to Ten Be an 11! “A person who holds himself or herself to the highest possible standards in order to attain his/her highest personal destiny and to help others attain their true destiny,” explains Shepard. Shepard further states that, “Everyone can be an eleven! It is simply a matter of attitude. It is not a matter of talent or intelligence, but a willingness to try continually to raise your own personal bar of excellence.”
This philosophy has also had an impact on weight room performance as well, pushing students to move past what is required and to move on to higher levels of achievement. When finishing up a required set of reps, Long uses this expression to help students push themselves, and add a few more lifts or pulls to the set and move past what they normally thought they were capable of.
“Most athletes are a dime a dozen. (The “Be an 11” concept) encourages student athletes to set themselves apart,” Long explained. Obviously it’s working. Within the fast four years, Northern Vance has produced some exceptional individuals including Back Kory Wright (now at Concord WVA), Defensive Back C. J. Woodard (Duke), Running Back Carlton Jones (West Point), Wide Receiver Darnel Edwards (Liberty), Lineman Tony Taylor (currently a senior who is heading out to Livingstone after graduation) and Jason Brown who has been hailed as the strongest man in the history Carolina football as a true sophomore. All of them were incredibly strong both in the positions and physically as incoming freshmen at their universities. The program prepared them physically for the college level, and the “Be an 11” mindset has helped to further this excellence.
Coach Ray Cosenza, a BFS clinician, was invited to speak to the team and to help them focus their goals to this end. Unifying the various athletics programs was a primary concern. “Before the clinic we were already working hard in the weight room but after having the clinic and later setting our goals the biggest change was our mindset. We knew what we wanted and we went after it,” says Daniel Reese, who plays center and is a senior.
Northern Vance is currently working to get all of its athletes on a year-round training program, and all of the athletes on the BFS program in an effort to increase strength in all fields of athletics. Since many student athletes at Northern Vance play two or three sports, a more unified program would keep these athletes in training year-round, and raise the excellence of athletes in all sports, encouraging a common standard of performance regardless of the activity. Additionally, athletes would have the added benefit be being equally prepared-and equally strong-for each sport the participated in. In short, training unification would benefit everyone. Senior Randall Bullock, a wide receiver, agrees: “Everybody is seeing the results of being a part of this program…one of Coach Longs favorite quotes is, “the best athletes don’t always win, the best team does.’ We have a team of 11s!”
Aside form improving the overall strength of the Vikings athletes, speed development and flexibility are also highly emphasized. Flexibility work is done daily, as well as a focus on a variety of lifts such as parallel squats, dead lifts, glute-ham developers and leg curls. Resistance exercises, overspeed exercises and biomechanical work round out the major components. Paul Crews already a highly recruited defensive back in his junior year of high school, attests tot the value of the system: “Our plyometric program has helped me become a better overall athlete. I am definitely more explosive than I was a year ago. My reaction time on cuts and jumps has improved significantly.”
At this point in time, Long believes that the program has made great strides forward, but still has a long journey ahead of them: “We have success but we are working for better…we haven’t arrived yet.” Although the team performed admirably this season with an impressive ten-zero record, they still have a few goals they would like to see accomplished for post season. Primarily, Longs focus is on attaining the Vikings first state championship.
In the conclusion to Dr. Sheppard’s book he offers these final words: “…a tremendous fire should ignite inside you. Apply the principles learned and you will become an unstoppable force. It will become eminently evident that the sky really is the limit.” It would indeed appear that a great fire has been ignited in the Vikings, in both coaches and student-athletes alike. As Charles Fuller, a senior linebacker, says, “We worked too hard to lose. As a senior I’m proud of what we accomplished. To next years’ team: finish it!.”