The True Feelings of Iron Dread How The People of DHS Really Feel About the New Weightlifting Program

Iron Dread is a weightlifting program that was made for DHS athletes this year. The program is lead by Coach Chris Whittaker, a DHS teacher and coach. Whittaker is proud that he is able to help athletes of all sports: “That’s my goal, for everyone to become better, stronger, and healthier.” The program and its leader claim to be in it for the improving of all athletes, but is that really the case?

While Iron Dread is said to be meant for everyone, many feel that it sways the most towards helping football players improve.

“I think it leans more towards football, but it is still good for all sports,” said junior Matt Koppen, a varsity football left tackle.

When asked about the favoritism of football, Whittaker denied all accusations.

“The workouts are about making everyone all around stronger athletes and people,” he said. “Nate Harvey at the University of Buffalo trains all athletes in the same way, swimmers, football players, everyone.”

Whittaker attempted to diminish the idea of the program being mainly for football players by simply ending the interview with: “So no, these are not just football workouts.”

Many students still appreciate the new program and even though they feel it might not be specific for their sport(s), they believe they are getting stronger and improving in some way. Quinn LaFontaine, a varsity volleyball player has notice how much stronger her arms have become and how she isn’t having to take breaks so often when she plays.

Out of 15 students surveyed that attend Iron Dread regularly, 73% said they would continue to go even if it wasn’t a requirement by their coaches. Ashley Love is one of these students.

“100% yes I would go still if I didn’t have to,” Love said. As a JV basketball post player and defensive soccer player, she feels the workouts help her succeed to a higher level

Many teachers are also in support of the new and successful weight lifting plan. D’Ann Dunn, the DHS Media Specialist and ex-Dexter volleyball coach believes the program is good for basics, but not for individualized sports. She is happy all athletes are gaining lifting experience, but feel the workouts would be more effective if each sport had a specific workout to focus on. Dunn understands how complicated planning many separate workouts would be though; she believes if a student truly is devoted to their sport, they should seek outside strength training.

Dunn is not the only teacher that supports the program; Athletic Director Mike Bavineau raves about it.

“Coach Whittaker has done a great job - this program and him have been very flexible and accommodating,” he said. He wants all athletes to be able to compete better. He hopes all Dexter teams will bring a more competitive side of themselves to games which will help all sports advance to new levels.

“In 5-10 years, I want winning teams to continue to dominate and have less injuries and I hope it will elevate losing teams,” said Whittaker, whose main goal is to not only win, but to reduce injuries of student athletes.

Just in the past several months, there have been 17 torn ACLs (anterior cruciate ligament). Whittaker has had three of these athletes in his class and feels for them. The tearing of the ACL is extremely painful and takes awhile to heal, and Whittaker hopes to lower the amount of injuries, if not get rid of them completely.

Iron Dread has felt its ups and downs. Many love the program and feels it helps while others are still skeptical. The main complaint being the workouts are too football specific, something Whittaker seemed to disprove by providing an example of why he does things. Still though, the question remains in the student athletes eyes: Is the point of Iron Dread for everyone to get better or for football players to get better?

While it is meant for everyone, the overall consensus is this is a program that is designed and implemented for the body types, needs, and aptitudes of the football players while focusing less on the needs of other athletes.

“I like that it teaches basic lifting skills,” Dunn said. “I do think there needs to be sport-specific extra training, but the general lifting is a great start.”

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