A Perfect Example of a High School Program
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1996
Last September I visited Miami Southridge High School and was dazzled. BFS Clinician Len Walencikowski and Southridge Spartan strength coach put on an awesome show with his Physical Education classes. There are nearly 4,000 students at Southridge and Coach Walencikowski has 560 of them on the Bigger Faster Stronger program every day. Athletes, non-athletes, girls or boys, it doesn't make any difference...everyone does the complete BFS program.
"We Squat, Power Clean and do Straight-Leg-Dead-Lifts," said Coach Walencikowski. "We use the Glute-Ham Developer, Box Squat and we love Plyometric Box Jumping and Medicine Ball work. We are mastering the BFS 8-point Sprint Techniques and work hard with our speed circuits. We do the BFS Dot Drill and the BFS Set-Rep-Log Book and everyone records their workouts. We do the Towel Bench, Trap Bar Lift and test our Vertical Jump, Standing Long Jump, Sit and Reach, 40 and 20 times, body fat percent, weight, height and yes, we also Bench Press."
The Southridge weight room is about 2,200 square feet and has all of the necessities and none of the frills. It is designed to get the BFS program done with a lot of kids in a short amount of time. There are 12-14 stations for each core lift. Sometimes Coach Walencikowski has a class by himself and sometimes head football coach Mark Guandolo, team teaches with him. They have 75 kids in some classes.
Coach Walencikowski began by having everyone do the BFS Dot Drill in the adjacent locker room area. Dot Drills are painted all over the place. Next, the BFS 1-2-3-4 Flexibility Program is done in the weight room. During this time, roll is taken. Coach Walencikowski calls out a name. The student responds, "Coach, you can count on me." If everything is satisfactory, Coach Walencikowski responds, "Yes, I can." If a fine or something else that should have been taken care of isn't, he answers, "No, I can't. Not yet." He then simply states how to resolve the problem. The big majority of the students have no problem. Those that do, respect Coach Walencikowski so that they take the responsibility to get their problem resolved quickly. They want their Coach to be able to count on them the next day.
Miami Southridge is located in a higher crime are of Miami. However, all of the students were respecful all of the time while I was there. They were great kids to be around. I believe their attitudes and behavior is the result of strong leadership. "We are trying to work hard and correct and we're having fun doing it," said Coach Walencikowski. "If we can do that, we know success will follow."
The classes that I observed were in orientation at the beginning of the school year. The Power Clean was being introduced. Coach Walencikowski demonstrated and used the BFS Power Clean video. Next, the class split up into 14 groups of between five and six students. About 20 veterans of the class were asked to divide themselves between the 14 stations. Twelve of the stations had a 45-pound Olympic bar with either the BFS Training Plates, 10-pound or 25-pound BFS Bumper Plates. Two of the bars were 30-pound Olympic bars which were used by the female students.
I was really impressed with the veterans. They were always coaching correctly. The novice students were continually helped with their stance, grip, back position, rack position, etc. Coach Walencikowski and Coach Guandolo continually coached as they went from station to station. I told Coach Walencikowski, "Man, you are teaching the BFS program way better than I ever did." Every coach in America should see his class in action.
I also stayed for the Miami Southridge Spartan football game. it was 28-0 in the first quarter. Their kicker, Michael Berry, is a bonafide All-American. His kick-offs went way up in the air and came down way to the left inside the five yard line. On six of the kicks, their opponents had to start on the 15-yard line on average while the Spartans on the 7th kick-off recovered a fumble on the 12-yard line. Michael weighs less than 160 pounds but works very hard in the weight room. He Parallel Squats 315 pounds.
One interesting point that is unique to Florida football is the officials timeout every six minutes of play. This is done to give the players a water break because of the heat and humidity. Also, during this game, lightning came up and the game was called three minutes into the 2nd half with Southridge ahead 42-6. I had never before seen a game called off because of anything.
The whole Spartan team works hard. There are 69 varsity players with an average Parallel Squat of 380 pounds, an average Power Clean of 195 pounds, an average Bench of 210 pounds, and an averge forty of 4.961 seconds. Forty-six out of the 69 players ran 4.99 or faster. Twenty-eight run 4.78 or faster, nine players run 4.54 or faster and three run 4.47 or faster.
The Miami Southridge Spartans have been perhaps the best Florida High School football team in the 1990's. They had 29 straight victories at one point and have produced players like Heisman Candidate, Troy Davis and five current NFL players. They are, at this writing, undefeated and looking forward to another year in the playoffs.
We thank Coach Walencikowski and Coach Guandolo for being Upper Limit examples who have created an atmosphere that breed Upper Limit students and athletes. It was pure joy to be around the Spartans of Southridge.