A Community and Team Working Together

By Coach Bob Spaite
Published: Fall 1997

Editors Note: Bob Spaite is the Head Football Coach at Columbiana High School, a Division 6 school in Ohio.  The community of Columbiana has a population of 5,000 and the school's enrollment of slightly less than 400 students in the top four grades.

Their success story reaches beyond just a football team.  It is a remarkable "Ride the High Places" kind of story.

Our Columbiana story is a story of community effort and a great example of some young people pulling together to reach "the high places."  First, I need to give you the background of how we started.  I became the head football coach here in 1994.  When I started in June, the players had been without a coach for 3 months.  A few members of the football team were doing the Nebraska workout and there was nothing for the other sports.  No one was working together.  There were only two Squat Racks, one Incline Bench, two regular benches, 1300 pounds of free weights and a Universal Machine that was in a closet.  The Universal Machine was used only by the basketball, baseball and volleyball teams as part of their pre-season workout.  The free weights were in the football locker room.  We were however, extremely talented and had a great senior class.  We conditioned very hard and played even harder when it was game time.  We ended up 11-1 at the end of the season.  We were the first 10-0 team in our high school's history and the first team to go to the playoffs.

When the season ended I was shocked to see the other teams took half of the weights up to the gym.  The football team was left with only 600 pounds, a Bench and a Squat Rack so I decided to postpone our winter workout until sometime in January. 

The local car dealerships donated $6,000 and I purchased Benches, Squat Racks and more weights.  We immediately got started with the BFS program.  We were still by ourselves and attendance was light.  To compound matters, I had a false sense about myself, after all we were 10-0 without much of a strength program.  As the '95 season started, we were still forced to lift in the locker room and we didn't get after it very hard.  This, coupled with a combination of injuries and lack of great leadership, lead us to a record of 3-7 that football season.  Once again, no one was working together.  I realized all of the errors that I made.  I renewed my belief that we must work hard all year.  At this time, I also decided that if we were going to get it done, I needed a better room or area to lift.  I decided to ask one of the fathers to build us a 40' by 35' weight room.  The next thing I knew there was a new group of boosters that had formed and they built a new building all within 18 months.  We now have a 70' by 40' building, a $180,000 facility, that is unequaled in the whole state.

I renewed emphasis on the BFS principles of cooperation.  Attendance became GREAT!  I had the total support of almost every coach.  In the past year, we have participated in two power meets as well as organizing and holding our own (which we won, both firsts in this school's history).  Presently we have an A.M. lift 5:45 to 7:30 and after school time of 3:00 to 5:00 P.M.  three days a week; Mon., Wed., Fri.  The middle school lifts on Tuesday and Thursday after school.  Our numbers are right around 50 athletes per day.  Outstanding for a school of 350 students!  The basketball, track (Boys and Girls), volleyball and softball teams are most heavily involved.  Here are some of the more notable Upper Limit stories on our team:

Mike Bell, after a year and a half of very hard work he was ready to be the starting quarterback this past fall.  One week before the season started he blew out his A.C.L.  The orthopedic surgeon said that his legs were so strong that he didn't need to have reconstruction surgery.  He returned to play and start the last four games of the season.  He continued to workout and took first place in three power meets, despite not having an A.C.L.  His best lifts in competition are: 265 Bench, 435 Squat, 450 Dead lift and a 250 Power Clean.

J.P. Jenkins, a thirteen-year old seventh grader.  In two power meets, he took a fourth and a second place in the 125 lb. weight class.  His personal best's in competition are a 145 Bench, 265 Squat and 305 Deadlift. 

Jennie Ineman, a junior volleyball player, she has a 98% attendance in the weight room, 315 Squat, 85 Hang Snatch, 385 Box Squat and 135 Power Clean.

Tami Kelly, plays volleyball, cheerleading and softball.  She is 10-1 as a starting pitcher, has one No-Hitter and bats .381.  She had 100% attendance during the winter and currently lifts two times a week.  She was named 1st Team All-County and the team's Defensive Player of the Year.  Her personal best's are a 315 Deadlift, 315 Squat and a 130 Power Clean.

Erin Lalama, is a junior Volleyball player and softball player.  She has a batting average of .380 for the year.  Her personal best's in the weight room include a 315 Squat, 165 Push Jerk, 385 Box Squat and 135 Power Clean.

Sara Sposetta, is a junior who is a cheerleader and runs track.  She has qualified for the regional track meet in the 4 x 200 meter, 4 x 100 meter, 4 x 400 meter and the 200 meter.  Her personal best's in the weight room include a 285 Deadlift and a 135 Power Clean. 

Jenny Beach, is a junior volleyball and track athlete.  She is a member of the same 4 x 400 meter, 4 x 200 meter, 4 x 100 meter teams as Sara.  She also placed fourth place in the 115 weight class at our Power Meet.  (75 Bench, 120 Squat, 200 Deadlift with a body weight of 102 lbs.)

Joe Andrewan AM lifter with 100% attendance.  One time, Joe came to his regular A.M. workout and that evening pitched a one hitter and went four for five with two doubles.  He finished the season with a 2 & 3 record, 1.47 ERA as a pitcher.  He also plays shortstop and third base, with a .519 batting average.  He set the school record for Triples in a season (5) and was named the teams Defensive Player of the Year.  Joe plays Varsity golf, basketball, baseball, hockey and this fall will be trying out for our football team instead of golf.

The personal gains of the over 100 young people (male, female, junior high and high schools) are too numerous to list, but I really believe we are on the right road and are heading for our Upper Limit.  Thanks Bigger Faster Stronger, for all of your help and ideas!