Why are students coming to school at six in the morning?

By: Sara Wolf

In mid-February, Bellbrook teacher and track coach Charlie O’Dell presented BHS students with the opportunity to lift at 6 a.m. before their school day begins. Though the option may sound unappealing to many, after a month, 20 students have been coming consistently on Monday and Thursday mornings to enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something first thing in the morning. Most athletes that are participating are from the track team, while others are coming from sports like lacrosse, soccer, football, baseball, volleyball, wrestling, basketball and swimming. Even students that don’t participate in school sports are coming to work on simply getting stronger.

Why are your peers willingly waking up at the crack of dawn, lifting, and then showering in the less-than-ideal school showers? Maybe it’s because they’re given chocolate milk at the end of each session, but if that’s not enough to convince you, Coach O’Dell provides more explanation: “One of the reasons Bellbrook students tend to be successful [in both athletics and in life] is because they are very well rounded. Morning lifting not only allows a busy BHS student to still build a foundation of strength in multiple sports, but completing the necessary lifting in the morning allows for an athlete to lift hard ‘in-season’ also. On top of that, there is a certain satisfaction to completing a physically hard task first thing in the morning. Psychologically it gives you a feeling of accomplishment and ‘wakes’ you up for the rest of the day!”

Morning lifting was initially put in place in attempt to work around other reserved times in the weight room and still give track athletes the chance to lift their required two times a week. But once Coach O’Dell opened the opportunity to all students, students from across the board came. Coach O’Dell is very welcoming to any student interesting in participating in morning lifts and coaches all who come with constant emphasis on the importance of strength training. “Body control, core strength, stability and explosiveness are foundational to every sport. Strength in these areas also aids a great deal in injury prevention.  There was a time when certain lifts were called ‘football lifts’ or ‘runner’s lifts,’ but that is not the way lifting is approached these days. At the college level, every sport does Olympic lifts and foundational strength lifts, just like we do in the BHS weight room,” he says.

When asked what advice he had for students who simply do not find it possible to get out of bed early enough to make it to morning lifting, here’s what O’Dell had to say: “My best advice is to focus on the reward, not the discomfort! The rewards of completing a hard physical task first thing in the morning make the slight discomfort worth it. One of my favorite authors, Jon Gordon, interviewed a man by the name of Dr. James Gills who has accomplished the remarkable feat of completing two triathlons back-to-back. When asked how he did it, he gave some great advice. He said, ‘I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself….If I listen to myself I hear all the reasons why I should give up. I hear that I’m too tired, too old, too weak to make it. But if I talk to myself I can give myself the encouragement and words I need to hear to keep running and finish the race.’
It’s the same way with any difficult task. Focus on the reasons it is worth it and talk to yourself….talk yourself into doing it.”

Morning liftings currently take place on Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 7 a.m. Sessions should continue on this schedule for the remainder of the year. Any changes in schedule are usually tweeted out by Mr. O’Dell on the Bellbrook Track twitter, @Bellbrook_Track.

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