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BendtheBar 10-29-2011 05:20 PM

Wanna Bet? by Sill Starr


When I moved from Marion, Indiana, to York in late February of 1966, to take over the position of assistant editor of Strength & Health to work with the managing editor, Tommy Suggs, I was definitely the low man on the totem pole in the York Gym. While I had won some regional meets,
such as the Ohio Valley Championship and the Southern and Southwestern Collegiates, my credentials didnít even come close to my new teammates. All of them had won national titles and Bill March and Tony Garcy had been in several international competitions, including the world championships and
the Olympic Games.

This didnít come as a surprise. I knew all of their accomplishments and had trained with Homer Brannum at the Dallas Y and competed with and against Tommy when we lived in Texas. I had also visited the York Gym on summer vacations and had trained there previously. I knew exactly where I stood in the pecking order and it didnít bother me in the least. I had been in this position before Ė when I entered SMU and began training with Sid Henry and the rest of the Dallas Y team, I was still a novice and everyone else was ahead of me. Except maybe Mike Puddington, who was also just starting out in the sport. And when I went to the Irving Park Y in Chicago to train I was once again the least accomplished lifter in the weight room, since that was where Clyde Emrich, Fred Schultz, Chuck Nootens and many other seasoned veterans worked out.

In fact, I preferred training with lifters who were better than I was. During my three years as Youth Director at the Marion Y, I was the one with the most experience and served as coach for the other lifters in town. I made very little progress during that time, yet in the one year that I was in
Chicago, competing and training against greater talent, I put fifty pounds on my total and improved all of my lifts in the process. Competitors, I believe, need to train in highly competitive atmospheres if they wanted to improve. While this isnít true for everyone, I felt it was for me.

So I welcomed the challenge and tried to soak up as much information as I possibly could in my early days at York. However, I was also engrossed in learning how to do my new job, and that took up a considerably amount of time and energy for the first couple of months. I did have some
experience in journalism: sports editor of my high school newspaper, a column for the base newspaper when I was stationed in Iceland, and I also put out a newsletter on weightlifting along with Herbie Glossbrenner at the Marion Y. It was called Lifterís Platform and was all about Olympic lifting in the Hoosier State. Basically, I mimicked the format of S&H, the most popular muscle magazine in the country. While the newsletter would be read by a couple of dozen lifters, S&H would have thousands of readers, so the scale of perfection was raised to a much higher level. I had to learn how to rewrite an article, and some appeared to be submitted by elementary school children. I quickly discovered that editing was a whole different ballgame than proofing. However, this task was most enjoyable since I was enamored with Olympic weightlifting in particular and physical culture in general.

Early on, I watched and kept my mouth shut for the most part. There was so much to learn that I felt as if I had been thrust into a post-graduate course on the O-lifts. Contrary to what I believed about the York Barbell Club, there were no coaches, or even advisors for that matter. Homer, Tommy,
March, Garcy, and new arrival Bob Bednarski trained themselves, and each had a unique routine totally unlike that of their teammates. Yet I had been in such a situation before. At the Irving Park Y, Emrich, Nootens, and Schultz did programs specifically designed for their own particular needs. What
I did was try to find some common principles in the various programs being done in the York Gym, but mostly I studied form. That was what my lifting needed more than just pure strength at the time.

I figured I could get stronger through more work, but to make changes in technique requires more than just effort.

Fazc 10-29-2011 05:27 PM

Bill Starr.

Brilliant writer.

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