Norman man's training results have made him known all around the region
By Michael Kinney
Transcript Sports Writer
Tucked inside Bob White's west Norman home is a sanctuary of sorts. It's a room where the 74-year-old engineer doesn't think about his battle with cancer or the business he owns. It's also not a library, office or study.
When White is ready to get down to serious business, he heads for his home gym.
"It's probably the top training center in the 300 miles surrounding Norman," White said. "People come from Texas to train there."
Despite the fact he could be mistaken for a greeter at Wal-Mart, White is considered by many to be one of the preeminent Olympic weightlifting coaches in America.
"Anyone who is interested in becoming an overall better athlete, this is the kind of training you have to do," said two-time Olympian and Muskogee native Shane Hamman. "And there is not very many people around that know how to train like this. You have to have done it to be able to teach it. And Bob is someone who has done it."
White is the coach for the Metro Weightlifting Club in Norman. The club competed in the Texas State weightlifting Championship Jan. 20 in Austin. All six lifters went away with gold medals.
"This is the first time in the history of the Texas championships that an Oklahoma team has won such a number of medals," said White, who owns the environmental company Professional Earth Services Incorporated.
But, what is even more amazing is the training ground for the team's success is White's home gym.
"The things that he has learned, along with his engineering background, which is what he does, he develops some amazing training techniques," Hamman said. "So I really love to come over and just watch him and see what he does with these kids."
With slogans plastered on the walls, seemingly sun-like heat and weights spread throughout the small, cramped quarters, White's gym has become a breeding ground for athletes looking to excel.
"My dad is real good friends with Bob White," Beau Blankenship said. "Bob was telling how much it would help me. I was trying to get stronger for football and more flexible. So I just got in here, It helped my times and everything. It got me moved up in weight like crazy."
As a sophomore for Norman North High School this year, Blankenship rushed for 1,514 yards and 16 touchdowns. He said he owes much of his breakout season to the work he has done in White's gym.
Blankenship became sort of a pied piper for White. Almost every member of Team Metro plays for the NNH football team or learned about White's training from Blankenship.
"I'm going into my second year," Drew Carrell said. "I found out about it from Beau Blankenship. He got me into this. Every since I have been here I have had a great time and got a lot stronger. It has helped me out a lot."
Carrell recently broke two toes, but that has not kept him from attending his daily workouts. That goes along with the type of attitude White adopted more than a decade ago.
White was diagnosed with cancer at age 62. After undergoing radiation treatment, he found he could only lift five pounds so he took up weightlifting to gain his strength back.
From there White went on to become a world class lifter and says he has not lost an event in 10 years of competition. He plans to compete in the 2008 World Games at the age of 75.
White said he no longer thinks about the disease, except every six months when he goes in for a checkup. His thoughts and energy are geared toward his students instead.
"Bob makes you do everything perfect," Blankenship said. "If you screw up, you have to do it again. If you don't get low enough, you have to do it again. You have to have perfect technique. Just real strict on everything."
However, White's results can't be argued against. Blankenship and Beau Traber have qualified for the USA national School Age Championships, which will be June 21-July 1 in Springfield, Mo. Blankenship totaled 495 pounds in the snatch and clean and jerk. Traber combined for 445 in the two events. Both totals exceeded the national qualifying marks for their weight class.
"He is getting some pretty amazing results in some short time with some of these athletes," said Hamman, who is considered the strongest man in the U.S. "I just love what he is doing. I would love to see it grow where he can grow out of this place. Because it is getting packed in here. And I know there is more and more kids that want to come. But there is really not enough space yet. He does well with what he has."
White didn't begin training athletes until he was 68. Yet, even as he gets up in age, he has showed no signs of slowing down. He maneuvers around the weight room, keeping a watchful eye on every pupil.
"Bob is a great teacher," Lance Uhles said. "He's very positive. Wants you to do your best. He will never let you fail."
White does not charge any of his students to work out with him. He said he only wants to teach the techniques that have helped him.
"Bottom line, it's really about giving back," White said. "We ask the young people to give back, too. Whether on the football field, wrestling mat, church or day-to-day activities. I don't know of anyone who doesn't."
Norman man's training results have made him known all around the region
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