Thursday, March 30, 2017

Brian Oldfield R.I.P.

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The younger generation may not appreciate the impact of this amazing athlete. Brian was one of the great influences of my track career, I was in high school when Brian broke into the scene with his rotational style. It opened my mind to thinking "outside the box". He was a very impressive physical specimen although his personal habits were not really what one would their athletes to emulate. He eventually paid a high price for that lifestyle and lived most of his adult years in pain. He was definitely one of a kind and a legend in the world of throwing and heavy athletics. Below are just a few pictures that show his impressive versatility. He was an amazing all-around athlete. Rest in peace Brian. You changed the Shotput forever.

Brian Oldfield (June 1, 1945 – March 26, 2017)[1] was an American athlete and personality of the 1970s and early 1980s. A standout shot putter, Oldfield was credited with making the rotational technique popular. With his "Oldfield spin," he set the indoor and outdoor world records in the sport many times. However, due to his status as a professional athlete, his records were never officially recognized.

Oldfield was born in Elgin, Illinois, and began his career at Middle Tennessee State University where he won the Ohio Valley Conference championship three times. The University recognized his achievements by inducting him into their athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.

After holding several jobs, Oldfield set his sights on achieving stardom in the shot put as an Olympian. In 1972, he made the US Olympic team, but finished in 6th place. He bounced back less than a year later by setting his first world record, with a throw of 21.60 m (70'10½"). However, this record was not official due to his affiliation with professional track & field.

In 1975, his throw of 22.86 m (75') set another unofficial world record. Though unofficial, Oldfield's accomplishment did not go unnoticed. After setting this mark, he had earned a cover spot on Sports Illustrated, and also made an appearance in a 1975 issue of Playgirl. In his Sports Illustrated interview, he confidently asserted that he expected to be throwing over 80' before 1980. In 1984, at age 38, he finally set an official record with a throw of 22.19 m (72'9") to set a new American mark. When asked how he was able to do it by a commentator at the event he responded "I had a 'throw-gasm.'"[2]

But Oldfield was perhaps at least as well known for his unconventional persona and on-field antics as he was for his athletic performance. Unusually for track athletes at the time, he wore his hair long in a style he dubbed the "Oldfield Mop" and occasionally sported a beard. Oldfield would sometimes smoke cigarettes in between throws at competitions to show that he could beat anyone, even while smoking. He was known for wearing flamboyant outfits, including tie-dyed shirts and Speedo-style shorts. These stunts served not only to raise Oldfield's profile, but frequently unnerved his opponents. At the 1972 US Olympic Trials, an opponent was quoted as saying "I will retire the day that I lose to someone like Brian Oldfield." Not surprising for the man who said in the Sports Illustrated article about him: "When God created man, he wanted him to look like me." (This quote was in the September 1, 1975 Sports Illustrated article about him.)

Oldfield competed in the World's Strongest Man contest in 1978, finishing seventh in a field of ten competitors.[3] He also competed in Scottish Highland Games in the 1970s. Utilizing his experience in the shot put, he set many field records in the Stone put. His career-best throw of 63'2" in the light stone, accomplished at Braemar, Scotland, in 1973, was a world record until 2013. [4][5]

Oldfield also starred in the 1989 film Savage Instinct, later renamed They Call Me Macho Woman! as Mongo, the crazed drug lord. In the film, Oldfield wears a special spiked headgear that his character uses to head-butt people to death. The movie was unsuccessful.[6]

Near the end of his life, injuries from his time in competition reduced the athlete to walking with a cane and using a wheelchair.[7]

Oldfield died on March 26, 2017, at his home in Elgin, aged 71.[8]
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Some More Thoughts on Rotational Strength

In past posts on this site we have discussed what we percieve to be the difference between rotational training and twisting. Rotation is turning the hips and shoulder as a unit, even while the hips may lead. Twisting is moving the hips and shoulders in opposite directions. Many trainers and trainees assume they are the same and/or that twisting movements are essential to developing rotational force. I do not believe that. In fact, I believe that twisting exercises are only a shortcut to back problems. Recently Sean Waxman, a California based strength coach who we have featured on this site before, posted a presentation that he made to a group of strength coaches and would-be personal trainers at an NSCA Conference. I am posting a few excerpts here. You can view the full presentation by clicking the link at the finish. Sean doesn't waste words. I agree with his views on torso training and his opinion of the general NSCA populace. While this is directed to the sport of baseball, (personally I think any sport where you spend most of your time standing around and where you can get a hit 3 out every ten trys and be considered good breeeds mediocrity) I think it applies a great deal to the throwing events.
My comments are interjected in blue.
Rotational Training and Weighted Bats
• One of the biggest mechanisms of torso injury occurs while flexing the spine during rotation. So If an athlete’s torso is not strong enough to prevent spinal flexion/extension then wouldn’t introducing rotational movements such as med-ball throws be foolish? Specific rotational exercise is an advanced form of training and should not be introduced into a program until the athlete has developed enough isometric strength in their torso to stabilize the spine. A better choice for training rotation would be barbell exercises. While an athlete rises from a squat or especially an overhead squat they will be strongly resisting the tendency to rotate. This act of stabilization creates significant increases in rotational strength. As an athlete matures and gains control over their torso function, specific rotational exercises can be introduced. However, unlike in other rotational sports such as the shot put, hammer, and discus where the implement thrown will range between 16lbs and 4.4 lbs and specific rotational training may be beneficial, (
not twisting)the heaviest object a baseball player will handle will be the bat, which will generally range between 30-40 oz. So aside from actually practicing hitting the baseball, it would seem unnecessary to spend the time in the weightroom on rotational training.
As far as using weighted bats, you are doing more harm than good. Adding weight to the bat changes the swing mechanics as well as the timing of the swing. And Because of the extra weight the muscles contract more slowly, therefore stimulating less type 2 fibers.

The Chinese lifters have been observed doing some rotational plate walks before and after training.

 Sports Specific Movements
I thought it necessary to discuss this idea of sports specific torso training in the weightroom. This does not exist in weight room. It is the job of the S&C coach to improve athletic attributes such as strength, power and speed. It is then the job of the baseball (
or Track)coach to teach the athlete the sports specific movements. Doing a side toss with a med ball or rotational movements on a cable column is not the same as swinging a bat or throwing a ball.(or discus, shot, javelin, or hammer) Throwing and hitting are very specific skills, which require very specific motor patterns, which you will not be able to replicate in the weightroom. In fact these rotational exercises create conflicting motor patterns and may very well negatively affect the athletes skill on the diamond. (or circle)Remember, in an untrained or under trained population nearly any training method will get a positive result for a short period of time. That doesn’t make it proper training.Sean's final statement was:
And you will never again go to a presentation on torso development because you will understand that the very premise is ridiculous.

Good stuff. 
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Rotation is not twisting

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The unregulated world of strength coaches

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You see all kinds of creative things being done, some with value, others, not so much.

Here is quite a lengthy and detailed article investigating the issue of qualifications and methods of collegiate strength and conditioning coaches here in the United States. It's no secret to anyone who has been involved in the "system". This article lays it all out though. Bottom line: Being a strength coach at an American university is no guarantee of competence. It is still more of a "who you know than what you know" profession.

The unregulated world of strength coaches and college football’s killing season

When all that's needed is a 21-hour course to become a certified NCAA strength coach, is anyone actually considering the best interests of student-athletes?
      When three Oregon football players were hospitalized in January following a strenuous workout, they were being led by a strength coach certified from a track and field coaches association.
For a $245 fee, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) offers a 21-hour strength training course to become a certified NCAA strength coach in any sport. By comparison, the widely-used Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) requires 30 times as much training -- a 640-hour certification process.
According to the NCAA, that track certification was all that was needed by Oregon football strength coach Irele Oderinde, who was suspended for one month due to the January workout. But should it be? Four industry experts with more than 100 combined years of experience told CBS Sports they don’t consider Oderinde properly certified to be a football strength coach.
Oregon told CBS Sports that Oderinde and his staff may seek “additional certifications.”
Oderinde is not alone. A CBS Sports investigation found -- in an age when college athlete welfare is paramount – that some strength coaches are not as qualified as they should be in the eyes of some medical professionals and players.
“Are you going to get a 21-hour class to practice law or medicine?” said Jay Hoffman, University of Central Florida sport and exercise science professor. “It’s a four-year degree. For most strength coaches, it’s four years plus a two-year master’s program that provides the [necessary] experience.”
The NCAA requires only a “nationally accredited strength and conditioning certification program” on a coach’s’ resume. However, training has become so specialized that experts say the NCAA rule is both too broad a requirement and not nearly enough of one -- as players continue to die in the offseason.
“They [Oregon] got away with it because none of them [the players] died,” said Hoffman, also chair of UCF’s Education and Human Sciences Department.

.Since 2000, 32 NCAA football players have died -- six from traumatic deaths and 26 from non-traumatic deaths. That makes it about 4.5 times more likely a player dies while training for football in the offseason than from a traumatic injury playing football.
Jay Hoffman, UCF professor
In a paper scheduled to be published this month, Oklahoma athletic trainer Scott Anderson wrote that since 2000 more players have died in February conditioning alone than in the previous 16 years of games, in-season practices, preseason practices and spring practices – combined.
With college football’s “killing season” in full swing -- the overwhelming majority of deaths occur in the offseason -- Oregon’s situation raises fundamental questions. What’s the standard to be an NCAA strength and conditioning coach? And are players as safe as they should be?
“We’re killing kids in preparation for the game,” Anderson said. “The game itself is relatively safe.”
Questions about Oregon’s strength coach
The industry’s two main accredited bodies are the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the CSCCA. The overwhelming majority of Power Five head strength coaches have certification from one or the other, yet even those two associations aren’t on the same page.
At Oregon, Oderinde is the only one whose lone certification was approved by a track and field association. Oregon’s nine other strength coaches are certified by the NSCA or CSCAA, according to university documents provided to CBS Sports through an open-records request.
Oderinde was certified by the USTFCCCA on Aug. 15, 2016, while at the University of South Florida, according to his certificate. It’s not clear what -- if any -- certification Oderinde had at USF between Aug. 1, 2015, when the NCAA bylaw requiring national certification went into effect, and Aug. 15, 2016. USF said it’s in the process of determining whether Oderinde was certified during that one-year gap, and if so, by what organization.
Oregon declined to provide a copy of Oderinde’s resume to CBS Sports since it is part of his faculty record. Oregon said faculty records cannot be released without an employee’s written permission, and Oderinde did not grant permission.

“I think a track and field certification would be just fine for a track and field coach,” said Boyd Epley, the man largely credited with being the first paid strength coach with Nebraska back in the 1970s. “But when you’re dealing with athletes that play football, that certification should match up to the needs of that sport.”

Irele Oderinde’s certification from the USTFCCCA. USTFCCCA
Tom Lewis, the USTFCCCA’s director of media, broadcasting and analytics, said the strength training course includes “instruction in the proper application of training and progressions as they relate to student-athlete preparation levels.”
While in compliance with the letter of the NCAA bylaw, Oderinde is among a handful of those coaches who, experts say, are underqualified.
Oderinde was suspended Jan. 17 after three Oregon players were hospitalized after a strenuous workout. One of those players became afflicted with rhabdomylosis, according to his mother.
“Rhabdo” -- how industry experts refer to it -- occurs following overexertion. Muscle fiber breaks down and leaks into the bloodstream. Urine can become discolored, and kidney failure can occur -- or even death.
Oregon was at least the fourth high-profile case of rhabdo since 2013 in any sport at a Power Five school. Head coach Willie Taggart later apologized and visited the three players in the hospital. Oderinde returned to work Feb. 19. Instead of reporting to Taggart, Oderinde now reports to an Oregon director of performance and sports science.
Oderinde’s online bio says he has a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration and a master’s degree in sport management -- neither of which pertain to exercise science or a related field, as the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) recommended in 2012 to prevent sudden death.
According to the USTFCCCA website, Oderinde’s track and field certification is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCAC).

“They’re [NCAC] really small and they’re really new,” said Scott Caulfield, NSCA head strength coach. “I don’t know if they understand what they’re trying to credential. They’re not really known in any credentialing context.”
Meanwhile, the NSCA and CSCCA are accredited by the more mainstream National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The 40-year-old NCCA claims to have accredited more than 130 organizations.
Oregon did not grant CBS Sports requests to interview Taggart, Oderinde, the three players who were hospitalized or athletic director Rob Mullens. Instead, Oregon provided a copy of an internal review performed by a faculty athletics representative and a statement.
“Irele Oderinde’s strength training certification from the USTFCCCA meets guidelines set by the NCAA. As has already been reported, Oderinde was suspended for a month without pay and supervision of the football strength and conditioning program was moved to Director of Performance and Sports Science Andrew Murray.
“This move creates a stronger connection with the Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center and provides appropriate oversight to protect the health and safety of student athletes, which is our top priority. This structure also will provide Oderinde and his staff with opportunities for continued professional development and training, which may include seeking additional certifications.”
Texas assistant head strength and conditioning coach Sandy Abney said Oderinde’s qualifications would not allow him to be hired by the Longhorns. Abney is certification commission chair of the CSCCA.
Anderson said Oderinde’s background, based on what has been discussed in the media, does not meet the standards for NATA. The leading association for athletic trainers has guidelines requiring strength coaches to have an undergraduate degree before taking a certification exam and recommends the degree be related to exercise science.
Myron Rolle, neurosurgeon and ex-Florida State safety
Before Oderinde was hired, Oregon’s job posting in December 2016 listed minimum qualifications that seemed to fall short of the NCAA bylaw that says a strength coach shall be certified by “a nationally accredited strength and conditioning program.” Oregon’s posting said it preferred -- not required -- a certified strength coach who has a master’s degree. Oregon’s minimum qualifications wanted candidates with a bachelor’s degree, three years in Division I or pro sports, and experience with “diverse populations.”
The standards for strength and conditioning coaches “are sort of where athletic trainers were about 25 or 30 years ago,” said NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline, who would not comment specifically about Oregon.
For example, as a condition of a state license for athletic trainers, most states require the passage of the NATA certification exam. Even with that, when an Oklahoma State basketball player died following a workout last summer, it was discovered the certification for the Cowboys’ athletic trainer had lapsed, according to The Oklahoman. Without certification, he could not receive a state license.

Florida State All-American safety Myron Rolle believes college football strength coaches need to be held more accountable.
“I’m a neurosurgeon now,” Rolle said. “Imagine if I walked into a patient’s room and I just took an online class to be certified, and I said, ‘I’m going to do your surgery today.’ That patient would say, ‘Get out of my room.’”
Undoubtedly, there are many good NCAA strength coaches. But the reality is there’s no clear industry standard for how to certify them. That decision is basically left up to the schools.
The NCAA bylaw itself is less than two years old, and it’s watered down, according to some industry experts. The NSCA and CSCCA sent a joint statement to the NCAA in 2015 demanding “higher professional guidelines.”
Frustrated at the lack of response, the two bodies sent the NCAA a joint letter on March 3 that calls on college sports’ governing body to require every strength coach to have a NCCA-accredited strength and conditioning certification. The NCCA is the organization the NSCA and CSCCA use, but it’s not the one that oversaw Oderinde’s certification at Oregon.
The NSCA and CSCCA propose that NCAA strength coaches without a bachelor’s degree be allowed up to four years to obtain an accredited certification. They also suggest that new hires from a specified date must hold an accredited certification.
The letter states that “ambiguity” by universities when interpreting the NCAA’s rule places athletes at risk. “Our organizations firmly believe the NCAA, as the governing body, should provide clarity and guidance on the standards for accredited strength and conditioning certification programs to their member institutions,” the NSCA and CSCCA wrote.
Add in the intense competitiveness from a multi-billion-dollar industry that’s made football training year-round and the recipe is clear for college football’s “dirty little secret,” as Oklahoma’s Anderson describes offseason deaths due to workouts.

Irele Oderinde followed Willie Taggart from South Florida to Oregon. USF Athletics
There’s no NCAA standard for strength coaches
The avalanche of acronyms involved in this story disguise a core issue: Schools get to decide what “nationally accredited” means when it comes to certification.
Oderinde came to Oregon with Taggart from USF. The strength coach had previous stops at Western Kentucky, West Virginia, Notre Dame and South Carolina.
The course description at the USTFCCCA, where Oderinde was certified, says a minimum of two years of coaching experience is “suggested.” The USTFCCCA promotes that its certification meets all NCAA requirements, though it also notes “institutionally based policies may differ.”
There is broad interpretation and little or no incentive for the NCAA to punish a school that hires an uncertified coach. An NCAA spokesman said a school “could” be investigated for certification violations, but the association’s “preference is to assist institutions to find ways to understand and comply with the legislation.”
There are only nine major-infractions cases in NCAA history that even tangentially mention a strength and conditioning coach. No findings of violations have ever occurred for the 2015 bylaw.
Similarly, there appears to be no strength specialists who have lost their certification from the two largest accrediting agencies for NCAA members. Officials from both the NSCA and CSCCA told CBS Sports they know of no instance when they have revoked a certification due to disciplinary action.
“We haven’t had to pull anyone’s certification,” said CSCCA executive director Chuck Stiggins, a former BYU strength coach. “I want you to know, and I mean this with humility, we are the gold standard for certification. Other organizations have 65,000 to 70,000 certifications. We only have about 840. Those who have our certifications are very skilled.”
Said Caulfield, the NSCA strength coach: “To my immediate knowledge, we have never revoked a certification due to disciplinary action.”
How is it possible that no certifications have been revoked by the NSCA or CSCCA? Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, danced around that question and said the NSCA and CSCCA must come together to decide how standards will move in the same direction.
“The pressure for there to be a paradigm shift is going to be pretty strong,” he said. “It can’t be the NCAA saying, ‘This is how accreditation and certification has to take place,’ but there is going to be other forces that are essentially going to shine a spotlight on the process.”
Hainline said a large number of sports medical organizations want to develop standards for medical care within an integrated medical team, including strength and conditioning specialists. The culture for evaluating strength coaches must shift from performance-based to medically-based, Hainline said.
“That’s the only way you’re going to be able to achieve peak performance, if it’s in an environment that’s safe,” he explained.
Stiggins stated in a 2015 letter that the NCAA backed off specific recognition of the NSCA and CSCCA because of “legal considerations.”
Consider the differences in some requirements for three associations, among others, that certify NCAA strength coaches:
CSCCA: Bachelor’s degree; 640 hours of training; an internship; pass science-based written and oral exams; current CPR/Automated External Defibrillator/First Aid certification. The CSCCA said it certified, in 2015, 37 percent of full-time Football Bowl Subdivision strength and conditioning coaches in all sports and 32 percent in the Football Championship Subdivision. According to the CSCAA, 71 percent of its 221 candidates in 2016 passed for certification.
The CSCCA board of directors includes what it calls 10 “Master Strength and Conditioning Coaches,” including Ohio State’s Mickey Marotti, Clemson’s Joey Batson and Iowa’s Chris Doyle. Doyle was Iowa’s strength coach when 13 football players were hospitalized in 2011 due to rhabdomyloysis. The school settled for $15,000 with one player who sued for negligence.
Caulfield told CBS Sports, “To become a master, there’s no actual mastery involved. Basically your master is not getting fired. After you’ve been a strength coach for 12 years, you become a master strength coach.”
NSCA: Bachelor’s degree or enrolled as college senior; current CPR/AED certification; pass a two-section exam consisting of scientific foundations and practical/applied science. The NSCA said it doesn’t track how many NCAA strength coaches it certifies. The NSCA reported 35,406 certified professionals, including strength coaches, trainers, physical therapists, athletic trainers and professors.
The NSCA’s reputation has taken a hit lately. In 2013, the NSCA published an article in its Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that suggested popular exercise company CrossFit poses an injury threat. CrossFit sued and claimed the data used had been discredited, which the NSCA conceded in a 2015 correction. The federal judge in the ongoing case ruled evidence could reasonably support that the NSCA knew the injury data were false but published them anyway to “protect its position in the market” and diminish “the burgeoning popularity of the CrossFit program.”
USTFCCCA (Oderinde’s certification): 21-hour “high level, detailed course” on strength training; undergraduate degree; CPR/AED/First Aid certification; pass 18 online quizzes from home about the 18 course units; pass hypothetical designed training for an athlete.
To pass the course, online quizzes require a 75-percent grade and no more than five “minor” errors in the pass/fail designed training project, according to the three-page course syllabus. “Minor” and “serious” errors are defined in the three-page course syllabus. The USTFCCCA said about 83 percent of applicants pass the course.
It’s not clear how many NCAA strength coaches are certified by the New Orleans-based association, which is a trade organization to develop skills for track and cross country coaches.
Some medical and industry professionals, including Hainline, believe states must start licensing strength and conditioning coaches to provide more accountability. Experts say the lack of standards are particularly troubling since strength coaches spend more time with players than almost anyone else in athletic departments.
In 2015, Tennessee coach Butch Jones said his program did a study showing 86 percent of a player’s time with the program is spent with the strength and conditioning staff.
The strength coach is usually “one of the most consistent people in [players’] lives,” said USC football strength coach Ivan Lewis. “Usually the strength coach is tasked to hold the team accountable as far as being on time, going to class, communication, etc. The strength coach usually has the best vibe of the team because he is around them so much.”
Many football strength coaches are among the highest-paid employees at their university. Several strength coaches make more than FBS head coaches.
Arizona athletic trainer Randy Cohen said he is less concerned about occasional high-profile stories about college athletes suffering from rhabdo than he is seeing bodies break down all year. Cohen said year-round training is not allowing NCAA athletes’ bodies to properly heal and too many players feel pressured to take pain medicine just to get through offseason workouts.
“We see a whole bunch of shoulder and cartilage tears, hip and groin issues, lower back and stress fractures,” said Cohen, past chairman for the NATA college committee. “It doesn’t make the news when the kid’s out with a herniated disc, but a lot of times we’re seeing them pushed past what they can do. That changes the function of that body part for the rest of your life. A lot of us believe these injuries are from workouts without proper rest time and recovery.”
In 2003, the NCAA passed reforms intending to reduce how often football players spend on offseason workouts and to make them safer. This came after a blue-ribbon panel led by former Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and former Baylor coach Grant Teaff studied the issue.
Oklahoma’s Anderson said what followed in 2004 for the NCAA was “among the deadliest year for conditioning in any sport or era.” To this day, those 2003 reforms “rank as one of -- if not the greatest -- abject failures of NCAA policy ever,” Anderson said.
As exercise science and technology provide far greater knowledge about workouts, who’s making sure strength coaches know what they’re doing? On too many NCAA campuses, experts say, the answer seems to be no one.
What happened at Oregon’s workout?
At Oregon, Oderinde now reports directly to Murray, the director of performance and sport science, instead of Taggart, the Ducks’ head coach.
While not speaking directly about Oregon, the NCAA’s Hainline indicated the type of higher training Murray has in sport science is needed for strength specialists. Athletic trainers are moving toward a path where they must be a master’s level trainer.
Oderinde replaced Jim Radcliffe, who at Oregon had been one of the most respected football strength coaches in the country. Radcliffe is certified by the CSCCA.
“I’m not sure why they suspended [Oderinde],” said Hoffman, a former NSCA president. “Is he going to get smarter a month from now? Either he’s qualified -- then he shouldn’t be suspended -- or he’s not qualified and he should be fired.”
The workouts at Oregon that resulted in three football players getting hospitalized for several days were “akin to military basic training,” including up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs, The Oregonian reported.
Oregon players had been off for about a month before the workouts. Some Oregon players have said they didn’t view the workouts to be outside the norm of what they traditionally do.
Taggart, who issued an apology shortly after the workouts, denied the workouts were “military style” to CSNNW.com and said the idea was to ease players into offseason conditioning without running or weightlifting. He said dehydration was an issue, coaches did not order players to work past their limitations, and some players pushed themselves too hard.
“These guys were tough guys and wanted to show the coaches,” Taggart said, according to CSNNW.com. “That’s probably what was part of the problem. They didn’t want to be the guy that quit. There were other guys that quit and they didn’t want to so they probably pushed themselves to a limit that they shouldn’t have.”
Hoffman said Taggart’s comment blaming dehydration is “one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever seen.” Hoffman added Taggart should, “thank God that one of these players wasn’t an African-American with sickle cell trait or there wasn’t heat to exacerbate the situation.”
Until 2010, the NCAA didn’t require testing for sickle cell trait. The condition can cause death when athletes aren’t properly acclimated to strenuous conditioning.
“It’s absurd a coach can make a situation like that and make excuses,” Hoffman said.
Jay Hoffman, UCF professor
Oregon president Michael Schill told The Oregonian he was “very upset” players had to be hospitalized after the workout. “Whether it was through our exercise programs, or the students were too afraid to be called weenies that they didn’t stop when they should’ve stopped, I don’t care,” Schill said. “The job of our coaches is to look out for their well-being.”
The Oregon workout raises a fundamental question that’s rarely asked out loud in college sports: What is the real purpose of a strength and conditioning coach?
To medical professionals, it’s to safely shape a person’s physiology. To many head coaches, it’s also to shape mental toughness to win football games many months later.
How a head coach picks a strength coach
Boyd Epley is considered the father of modern strength training. He basically invented the position at Nebraska in 1970s and later founded the NSCA in 1978.
Today, Epley is Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning and sees a profession still refining itself. He said some workouts are improperly designed for the sake of extra discipline and mental toughness.
“While there are elements of this in any form of coaching and training, many attempts to do so fall woefully short of, or even contrary to, sound physical training methods, placing student-athletes in dangerous situations,” Epley said.
“Because the strength coach currently often answers directly to the sport coach, there is pressure on the strength and conditioning coach to carry out whatever type of training, discipline or even punishment the sport coach desires.”
Epley said most strength coaches are hired through the normal procedures by the human resources department on campus. The job is posted. Candidates are vetted. Basic requirements must be met. But in high-profile sports like football, Epley said exceptions get made and the strength coach is hired like an offensive or defensive coordinator.
“The head coach wants a certain person, so that is who is picked -- qualified or not,” Epley said. “If that strength and conditioning coach does not hold certification of an appropriately accredited body, the athletic department can come up with an interpretation of the accreditation criteria of an alternate certification to fit their hiring needs until the NCAA further clarifies and enforces their legislation.”
Anderson credited the NCAA for shifting the onus for certification to the schools. But others are more frustrated. Abney, the Texas assistant head coach, said the NCAA decision was “a huge setback” for the strength coaching profession.
“That’s why I kind of scratch my head with CrossFit,” Abney said of the popular exercise company. “Some of those folks seem to be proud that they get [rhabdo]. I’m like, are you getting that it’s a death penalty to a strength and conditioning coach? If you take athletes to that point, you’re done.”
NCAA bylaws require a strength coach who does weightlifting or conditioning to be certified in CPR and first aid. Also, a sports medicine professional must be present at workouts with “the unchallengeable authority to cancel or modify the workout for health and safety reasons.”
Randy Cohen, Arizona athletic trainer
Ohio State has gone through a situation similar to Oregon’s twice since 2013. Six Ohio State women’s lacrosse players were hospitalized with rhabdo. At least one member of the women’s track team was treated for rhabdo in 2014. How does a workout reach the point where athletes get hospitalized?
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith based his school’s situations on “poor communication.”
“If you’re the strength coach and you work the lower body and then the coach the next day is working on the lower body, that’s the stress point,” he said.
Anderson is like a lot of his peers. He’s had enough.
“We just have to somehow get some traction on the issue that keeps happening over and over,” he said. “It’s the same reason [players were injured] at Iowa that [they were] at Oregon. It’s the same issue that’s killing kids as well.”
Players know more than some strength coaches
Former South Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore came to Washington, D.C. last May intent on making a point . Speaking before the Knight Commission, a group that tries to reform the NCAA, Lattimore laid out a startling statistic: Nine out of 15 former players he informally surveyed sustained injuries in summer workouts -- six in the weight room and three in conditioning.
“Some [strength coaches] are brilliant,” said Lattimore, who played for the Gamecocks from 2010-12. “The ones I had in college were pretty good, but there were some on staff that, embarrassingly enough, I knew more than.”
Rolle, the former Florida State safety from 2006-08, said his head strength coaches at FSU were excellent and provided valuable help, especially by teaching proper nutrition and serving as advocates for players with NFL scouts. But like Lattimore, Rolle questioned the knowledge of some strength coaches lower down the food chain and believed they put players at unnecessary risk.
“I’m not asking you to be a walking, anatomically-correct textbook, but I expect you to at least have some kind of basic understanding of what you’re telling me and how to do it,” Rolle said.
“Sometimes that knowledge gap was seen. I feel like I should not have known more than you if you’re going to be in charge of telling me what to do. If you’re coming in for a job to train a guy like [former Seminoles star] Lawrence Timmons, who’s going to be a first-round pick, and you’re not busting it to do the work and teach us, that’s lack of interest. That’s being inept.”
Unlike in pro sports, college athletes are not legally allowed to unionize. According to a source, the Major League Baseball Players Association has collectively bargained strength training NSCA certification into their deals. The NBA strength and conditioning coaches association partnered with the NSCA in 2015.
For the NCAA, all health issues -- such as whether to set standards for strength coaches -- are intertwined with liability. If enforceable standards are set, you break it, you own it.
“The NCAA has to protect itself a little bit, too,” said Cohen, Arizona’s athletic trainer. “If you set the standards, are you opening yourself up to more litigation when bad things happen and the standard wasn’t enforced appropriately? Right now, the NCAA isn’t losing lawsuits [related to strength coaches], and until they lose a lawsuit, they’re not going to force stuff.”
Hainline said he thinks recent NCAA bylaws giving medical personnel unchallenged authority to care for players will eventually lead to enforceable NCAA medical rules. It’s not clear if or when that will happen.
Instead, universities are the defendants for their own actions. In 2016, the University of California settled for $4.75 million over the death of football player Ted Agu, who had the sickle cell trait and died after a strenuous offseason workout in 2014. Cal strength coach Robert Jackson was also present for the workout years earlier preceding the death of UCF football player Ereck Plancher, who tested positive for sickle cell trait.
The Iowa 2011 case with 13 hospitalized players due to rhabdo resulted in a single $15,000 settlement. The workout in question was only held about once every three years as a test of physical stamina, mental toughness and to see who “wanted to be on the team,” according to an investigative committee report commissioned by Iowa.
Iowa essentially determined the exercises themselves were to blame and no staffer was disciplined. Doyle, Iowa’s strength coach, was named the school’s “most valuable coach of the year” three months after the hospitalizations. He made $625,204 last year as the nation’s highest-paid strength coach, according to USA Today.
Anderson, Oklahoma’s athletic trainer, wrote in the Journal of Athletic Training that 10 of the 13 hospitalized Iowa players had creatine kinase levels during workouts about 120 times higher than 32 Iowa players tested in subsequent August practices. An elevated level of creatine kinase is seen in heart attacks or in conditions that produce damage to the skeletal muscles or brain.
“The method is pushing players’ limits in a belief that the only limits are self-imposed by the untough, the undisciplined, and the unaccountable,” Anderson wrote.
There are well-established guidelines for athletic trainers and strength coaches to handle offseason workouts.
“I always tell my coaches, ‘It’s real easy to go hard in someone else’s body. If it’s your body, how do you feel?’” said Mike Barwis, a former Michigan and West Virginia strength coach and now a consultant to the New York Mets.
Cohen said most workouts in college sports aren’t too hard but rather don’t plan for enough rest and recovery built into the process.
Even when reporting lines don’t go through the head coach, Cohen described a “vicious cycle” where some strength coaches or on-field assistants feel they must prove their value to their head coach by showing how hard athletes are working in the offseason. College football programs now treat the sport like a “12-month-a-year job” for players, making them work at a high level all year instead of getting the body to peak at a later date, Cohen said.
Yes, he said, sometimes athletes must be pushed past their comfort level. But he believes the good coaches know the level a player truly can’t achieve.
“When your design of the workout isn’t to make them a better athlete or get in better shape but to make them tougher, that’s when you get problems,” Cohen said. “A lot of the strength coaches are very well trained. The problem is there are certifications that are very good and others that are weekend courses.
“We don’t have a set standard for what a strength coach should be.”

Correction: The original version of this story referred to the CSCCA as the CCSCA.

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One thing is for sure. American universities have facilities that are the envy of the world.

Monday, March 20, 2017

So you want to be a college athlete?

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Generally speaking, there are no scholarships for weightlifting, but one can certainly compete while attending college or university.

Some good information for high school athletes who want to be college athletes. The so called "Full Ride" scholarship is widely misunderstood. There are plenty of opportunities for post high school competition if one is realistic about their abilities and willing to work hard. My best advice is to qualify for  as many academic and leadership types of scholarships as possible, then try out for the athletic teams that you are interested in.

USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.

So, you’ve been selected First Team All-District two years in a row, you’re captain of the team and everyone is telling you that a college scholarship is on the way. There’s only one problem: You don’t have any offers and haven’t even been contacted by very many college coaches. What’s worse is that the coaches you have heard from aren’t at schools you have any real interest in. You sit in class every day wondering why college coaches aren’t calling, texting or coming to watch your games. Your coach has told you not to worry, but it’s hard not to. You really just want answers.

Well, here’s the reality… only the elite high school athletes are highly recruited. It’s not that uncommon for an athlete with exceptional skills and stats to go unnoticed, especially by NCAA Division II, Division III or NAIA schools that don’t have large recruiting budgets.

There may be many reasons why you don’t have multiple college offers, but let’s talk about the 3 most likely ones.

You’re not a 5-Star athlete and you aren’t doing anything to move your recruiting needle

Only the top 2 percent of high school athletes are highly recruited. The other 98 percent who want to play at the next level need to do a little work to help move the needle in their direction. Be honest with yourself. Are you really in the top 2 percent? That means if there are 100 varsity starters in your district, then you are either the best or second best prospect. If the answer is “no”, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean you won’t be in the top 2 percent when you graduate from college. However, it does mean that you probably need to do a little work to find the right colleges and you most likely will have to initiate the communication with college coaches.

Whether you want to believe it or not, if you aren’t already a highly recruited athlete, then the success or failure of your recruiting journey is directly related to how much effort you are willing to put into the process. I’m not talking about spending 20 hours a week on finding a college, but 15 to 30 minutes a day, three days a week can make a big difference in how many college coaches you are talking with.

You think it’s your coach’s job to find your college home

Let’s get one thing straight, it’s not your coach’s job to find your scholarship. Even if it were, why in the world would you leave something so important in the hands of someone else? The recruiting process is your responsibility. High school and select coaches can help, but they may not have the time or even know how to help. Your high school coach is an important contributor in your development as an athlete; they can vouch for your character and can give college coaches an honest evaluation of your abilities. The rest is on you.

Here is a comment we heard from a parent just last week: “We believed Ryan’s high school coach had college recruiting taken care of. Now he is a senior and the only college that seemed interested just informed us that their roster is full. ” This athlete is now in “panic mode”. Most coaches want to see their players make it to the next level and try to help their players, but you can’t afford to assume they have everything covered.

You aren’t really committed

If college coaches haven’t found you yet, you have to make three commitments. You have to commit to being realistic, you have to commit to the process and you have to commit to being persistent. If you aren’t willing to make these simple commitments, you probably don’t want to play in college as much as you thought.

Commit to being realistic: Perhaps the most difficult task in an effective college recruiting game plan is being realistic with who you are as an athlete and as a student. If you spend your time pursuing colleges that aren’t a fit, your recruiting experience will be a huge disappointment. For that reason, you need an objective, honest, unbiased evaluation of your abilities. That evaluation can come from your current coach, or from any other independent source.

If the colleges that fit your evaluation aren’t the ones you want to attend, then you need to work harder on the field and/or in the classroom. It is okay to pursue some dream schools, but focus on the ones that will have the same amount of interest in you as you have in them. You might be surprised how much more attractive a college becomes when they want you on their team. Also remember that just because you haven’t heard about a school, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a perfect match for you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Commit to the process: Committing to the process means taking ownership of your college search. You have to be involved and proactive. Being proactive means reaching out to the coaches at realistic colleges and developing a dialogue with them. It means doing anything necessary to get noticed by the right colleges. Send an email, attend a camp, go on an unofficial visit or pick up the phone a make a call. I understand that you don’t want to say the wrong thing or annoy a coach, but if you are honest, respectful and polite college coaches will appreciate your desire to play at the next level.

Commit to being persistent: The commitment to being persistent means carving out time a few days a week to finding your college scholarship. Sending an email or two and/or filling out a recruiting questionnaire does not constitute being persistent. Keep in mind that you really need to contact numerous schools, numerous times to find the right fit. Remember, no matter how you connect with college coaches everything has to line up to get a response: (1) the coach has to open your email or letter, (2) he or she has to actually read it, (3) there has to be a need at your position. For that reason, the more appropriate colleges you reach out to, the better your chances are to find a scholarship. You might find that perfect fit with your first email, or it might not happen until you contact your twentieth college.

Here’s the deal

You might have noticed that the solution to each situation is for you to take ownership of your recruiting journey. Certainly if you are unsure about what to do you can find someone to help, to provide advice, suggestions and support. The bottom line is that if you haven’t been “noticed” then you need to do something about it….Today.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Haka: A dance of diversity or ignorance?

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Some athletes know how to do the Haka!

I've long admired the Haka when done in it's authentic form. At the same time, I've been somewhat offended by the widespread use of this powerful and even sacred cultural ceremony being used by young men who really have no comprehension of what they are doing. I see this often in the Native American world as well, where people try to appropriate cultural strengths that they have little or no understanding of. That's just downright offensive as the article below explains.

Rooted in culture of New Zealand’s native Maori, the synchronized display of male bravado has grown popular on athletic fields. But is it true to its origins?

Laie, Hawaii • You've seen it on TV or at a football game — men in formation, bending knees and arms in synchronized gestures, chanting unfamiliar words in unison, grunting, scowling.

The exotic movements are at once mesmerizing and a tad threatening.

This is what most Americans know of haka, a kind of male-dominated dance brought to this country from New Zealand decades ago and experienced most often at athletic events.

The Maori-rooted ritual has become so popular that these days it is deployed to glorify a particular team or to sell stuff — like sneakers, toys, sports gear, even baked goods. Imagine animated gingerbread men pounding their pastry chests.

 To Maoris like Debbie Hippolite-Wright, however, such uses betray haka's sacred origins and purpose: to celebrate the triumph of life over death.

It is beyond offensive, says Brigham Young University-Hawaii's only female vice president. "Without acknowledging the haka's meaning ... and without its cultural anchors, it's a caricature."

Hippolite-Wright explains in an academic paper how it came to be.

In the 19th century, the famed Maori warrior chief Te Rauparaha, a sibling of her own ancestor, was being chased across the plains of New Zealand's north island. To escape capture or death, the chief hid in a pit, while his wife blocked the entrance. In the dark, he penned the words of a prayer, asking: "Ka Mate" ("Will I die"?) followed by "Ka Ora" ("Will I live?").

After his enemies gave up and left, Te Rauparaha emerged from the cave. He danced with joy at his survival, attaching the words he had written to his gestures.

Since then, the collective posture and chanting have come to represent New Zealand — especially Maori — identity and pride. It was popularized by that nation's wildly successful All-Blacks rugby team as a symbol of unity.

In the past few decades, haka has traversed the ocean to teams in the West — including Utah.

But Hippolite-Wright is not all that pleased with the way her national treasure has been appropriated — even misappropriated — by others, without acknowledging its author, its place in a particular tribe, or understanding its intention.

Plus, she says, too many versions include shirt tearing (not part of the original) and do not include women and children (who were).

Generations of Maoris have "contextualized the message for themselves," she says. "They did not exoticize it for someone else. "

Alive in Utah • Pacific Islanders have been vibrant threads of Utah's fabric for more than a century, so it was only natural that many of them found their way onto the state's playing fields.

In the mid-1970s, Larry Gelwix of Salt Lake City's Highland High School organized the state's first rugby team at that level. The program became hugely successful, racking up scores of national titles. Gelwix incorporated a prematch haka that was memorialized in a film, "Forever Strong," about the team.

Other high schools in the Beehive State, as well as colleges such as BYU and the University of Utah, picked up the Maori dance, from time to time, as a way to energize fans.

In recent months, however, many Pacific Islanders were appalled to see a YouTube video of an Idaho football team performing haka without a single ethnic person on the squad.

"I couldn't even recognize it," says Moana Uluave-Hafoka of Salt Lake City's Community Empowerment Team. "It was almost as if they were mocking the tradition."

Uluave-Hafoka grew up on the city's east side, where haka was a routine part of her experience at East High School. Every multicultural assembly ended with the Maori dance, she says, and then "it became a tradition."

But she and her classmates had no idea what the words and motions meant, nor how they originated.

Then Uluave-Hafoka served a Mormon mission to New Zealand, where she learned the language and the context.

"Part of that is spiritual," she says. "The basic idea is respectful."

In that country, haka is also performed at weddings as a sign of welcome, Uluave-Hafoka says, and the whole community — including women — participates.

In the West, though, it has spawned a larger conversation among Pacific Islanders.

Because haka is a war dance, it perpetuates and sustains a "stereotype of hypermasculinity" and "savagery," Uluave-Hafoka says, with the performers seen as "big, masculine and scary, and they're doing a dance we don't understand."

Uluave-Hafoka is "not a purist, because culture is dynamic, not static," she says. And she isn't so worried about how authentic a haka is.

But there has to be respect, she emphasizes. "No one should be performing it in ignorance."

Unites players and fans • John Lambourne was introduced to haka as a football coach at Hunter High School in West Valley City. Pacific Islanders accounted for more than a third of his team, he recalls, and they "wanted to do it."

So when Lambourne moved to South Jordan's Bingham High School, which also had many players from that population, he incorporated the dance into the pregame rituals.

"We do it before every home game, facing our crowd or our sideline," he says. "We don't do it at away games, complying with regional rules. But we might do it at an opposing school, but not on their field."

Senior linebacker Brigham Tuatagaloa has been involved in directing haka for his teammates. He grew up watching the All-Blacks rugby team and was excited to participate at his own school.

"We make it a priority to explain what the words mean," Tuatagaloa says, explaining that through the years the team has changed some traditional haka words and merged some previous versions "to make it our own."

The experience creates camaraderie among teammates as they get ready to play, he says, and it "hypes the crowd."

Ra Puriri, a Maori Mormon, has returned to New Zealand after working as a businessman in St. George. His brothers still live in southern Utah, where they coach high school rugby. They introduce haka to their players, who hail from a number of Pacific nations, and all bring the right attitude.

"It is a special, sacred tradition," Puriri says in a phone interview. "If you are going to do it, at least do it correctly. Don't spin around and do Michael Jackson moves. Don't do it to sell hamburgers and hot dogs."

Or to impress girls.

"It gets kind of sexualized sometimes, like a return to cave men and pump-me-up gestures," he says. "That's when it's sad to me."

At their best, the ritualized movements can help cultures link arms, Puriri says, as when Maori women danced haka at Standing Rock as a show of solidarity with American Indians protesting a pipeline slated to go through their territory.

It was once a New Zealand tradition for Mormons to send missionaries off on their two years of voluntary service by doing the haka.

That practice has been restricted in recent years, he laments.

"This was about love, sending our spirit with them," Puriri says, encouraging the budding proselytizers to "be strong, be a warrior."

Just like the Maori chief.

pstack@sltrib.com Twitter: @religiongal

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Some, not so much!

Monday, March 13, 2017

First 5 Mr. Olympia Winners - THEN and NOW

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Not all of them lost their "Gains".

On the tail of our last post, here are are some examples of early competitors who aged pretty well. Some  very well. Of course the "supplementation" was more primitive then.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


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Some physiques are not healthy, fit, or functional.

Interesting clip here. In contrast to our last post of an amazing 80 year old, this illustrates what happens when training is not maintained. It also shows the temporary superficial physiques that have been in vogue in the competitive "bodybuilding" world have nothing to do with health or fitness. I can't vouch for the validity of the "Top 5" label, but it is interesting and illustrative regardless.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fitness Goals: Bodybuilding at 80


Very impressive....


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Chuck Norris story

Here is a really great story.

SANDY — As afternoon was edging toward evening a week and half ago, a black SUV pulled into the driveway at the home Judy Parry shares with her son Mark.

Walker, Texas Ranger, got out.

Yeah, that Walker, Texas Ranger.

He rapped on the door, just like in the TV show, crouched and ready for whatever was on the other side of the door.

Mark opened it.

And Chuck Norris gave him a big hug.

Mark Parry wasn’t dealt an easy hand in life. He was born 33 years ago with Down syndrome. Two years ago his dad, Rick, died of cancer. Two months ago Mark was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer. It’s at stage four. He has two to six months to live.

Mark’s approach to life has always been doing what you can instead of what you can’t. With six brothers and three sisters, 38 nieces and nephews and a mom who has been his permanent offensive line since the day he was born, he’s had great support at home. When he was 22 he signed on for a service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They assigned him to work in the kitchen at the cafeteria in the Church Office Building. Every day, he’d catch the bus from his home in Sandy, ride to downtown Salt Lake, do his shift, and ride home.

That worked out so well, when his mission was over, the people who ran the cafeteria begged Mark to stay. He said yes. For the last decade he’s not only been an indispensable employee, he’s made more friends than he can count.

Something else Mark grabbed onto that enhanced his life was Chuck Norris, the movie actor, martial arts guru, and, not least, star of the hit TV show, “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

Years ago, Mark saw Chuck Norris on television and it was obsession at first sight. He bought the Total Gym, the workout machine Chuck Norris sponsors. He enrolled in karate, earning his black belt. He watched every episode of every season of “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Then he got Judy and Rick to buy the DVDs so he could watch them again and again.

He wore a cowboy hat, Chuck Norris style. Every day at the cafeteria he showed up with it on. Sometimes at break he’d entertain everyone with a karate demonstration.

So that’s Mark, and you can imagine the reaction when his co-workers found out about his cancer. They felt like a truck had fallen on them.

They couldn’t do anything about the cancer, but they could do something about Mark. One of his supervisors, who prefers to remain anonymous, had the brainstorm of seeing if Chuck Norris might ever be passing through Salt Lake City.

Their people contacted his people in Los Angeles.

It turned out he was coming to Utah to do some promotional work with Maverik.

When Chuck Norris and his wife, Gena, flew into the Salt Lake Airport they had Mark’s address with them. The first thing they did when they got in the black SUV waiting for them at the curb was aim straight for Sandy.

They called Judy on the way, asked if it would be OK if they dropped by, and said they’d be there in a half-hour.

When the doorbell rang, Judy let Mark answer.

“I am still amazed they would come and do that,” says Judy a week and a half later. “They could not have been nicer. Chuck Norris was as kind a person as I’ve ever met.”

Chuck Norris signed every one of Mark’s DVDs. He walked with him downstairs to his bedroom to see the “Walker, Texas Ranger” gear on the walls. In the family room he got down on the Total Gym bench and did some exercises.

 “It was just like a friend down the street who came to visit,” says Judy.

“You hear a lot about celebrities and how difficult they are. You don’t get to see the other side. I thought they might have their PR people with them, taking pictures and following them around. But they wanted no publicity, no photos, no attention. They didn’t want anything; just to make a boy’s dream come true.”

Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Mondays. Email: benson@deseretnews.com

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