CAMERON - Nobody was more surprised than Eric James when he was contacted by the folks at weight training organization Bigger Faster Stronger. Now James had previous experience with the group, as it came to Cameron High School about 5-6 years ago.
''It was to try to give our kids a little extra edge that we think a small community would need,'' said James, who wears several hats at the school, not the least of which is head of strength and conditioning. ''At the time, our enrollment was 330 in grades 7-12. The program was primarily aimed to the upperclassmen and we had 80-85 show up.
''Pretty much everyone that's involved in sports there.''
Recently, BFS officials decided to look in on the progress made at Cameron and they were astounded. Because of what they found, the school will be featured in the March/April issue of the nationally distributed magazine.
''Before I had gotten there, we had a pretty successful run in football,'' James said. ''But it's the other sports that we were trying to bring up.''
To be perfectly honest, it didn't even don on me just how good of a run Dragons athletics has experienced in the last several years.
Consider these facts since James has been there. The Dragons have:
''And the cheerleaders even made state competition,'' James pointed out. ''I'm not saying (BFS was) an overnight fix for what accomplishments have been achieved, but I think what they did for us and what I used from their company, is definitely beneficial.''
More than anything, James said, the weight training side of things has become more organized, or structured. That has eliminated a lot of wasted time that at a school the size of Cameron, where most students play multiple sports, can't afford to happen.
''I'm allowed to have access to a computer program where I can track any athlete, or student for that matter, that have weight-training classes,'' said James, who is also the school's head baseball coach, as well as an assistant in both basketball and football. "I receive a printout for every sport, what exercises they need to be doing. It challenges them weekly.
''Just from an organization standpoint, it saves so much time.''
James said a big supporter of the initiative was then-Cameron principal Marilyn McWhorter. Without her none of this would have happened.
''We were fortunate at the time. I brought up idea and she was behind whole thing,'' James said. ''I think the school ended up paying for them to put on this clinic.''
And it's only going to get better. With a new school in the works, it's going to open up more future doors, both academically and athletically.
''I think it's going to benefit the athletic program immensely. We'll have a field house that will seat 1,600, a full-size, 94-foot court,'' James said. ''The public will have access to a 2-3 lane walking track on the mezzanine level and it will benefit the general fitness of the public.
''These are things we couldn't do before because of a lack of facilities.''
But there's more.
''In two different areas, we'll have 1,600 square feet of training space. Right now there's 750-800 square feet,'' James said. ''We have an athletic trainer on staff full time and he's going to have fully equipped room - Hydrotherapy and all the bells and whistles.
''There will also be a 400-seat auxilary gym where the middle schools will play. Another plus is everything is going to be kind of centralized.
''Right now you've got kids hopping in cars, going 4-5 miles down the road to another practice.''
Be sure to look for the magazine in the near future.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net