Penn Hills fitness teams display strength at national competition
Penn Hills fitness team assistant coach Jenell Roberts said there were plenty of nights when the team's two-hour workouts would extend much longer.
“There were nights we'd be there until 10 or 10:30 p.m. because the kids would want to stay and lift some more or play football,” said Roberts, 25, a 2006 Penn Hills graduate.
That hard work paid off as the boys' and girls' teams came away from the National High School Physical Fitness Championships with fifth- and third-place national finishes, respectively.
The competition was held in May at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego.
Peter Gula, 18, who graduated earlier this month, has been on the team since his freshman year. Gula's father was a member of the team in the 1970s. Gula said the national competition was “unbelievable.”
“We stay on the Marine Corps base, which creates an atmosphere unlike any other local sport, because you're totally immersed in the competition,” he said. “Whenever you look around, there's Marines running, Marines working out, we're lifting with Marines, and that really gets you in the right mindset to compete.”
Coach Bob Martini, who has headed up the team since 1982 and was a member when it first formed in the mid-'60s, said the team requires dedication.
“It's tough. It's a workout all the time,” he said. “People go out for the major sports because they have a God-given talent for that sport. But with this team, every day is a competition between the members. Every night we come in here, it's a hard push.
From November to May, the team meets three nights per week for two-hour physical fitness sessions: weightlifting, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups and more.
The team, which does not receive any funding from the school district, travels to competitions in Pennsylvania (Allentown), Washington, D.C. and other locations.
The San Diego championships are the farthest the team has traveled.
Roberts said this year's team has expanded from previous years: the team started with about 80 members, and the final team, both boys and girls combined, was about 40.
“Usually our starting group is what we have now, so it's impressive that we kept this many people,” she said.
Roberts joined the team as a freshman along with a group of friends, and found that “it's a great conditioning sport to help you prepare for other sports.”
The fitness-team concept, however, has largely fallen by the wayside, Martini said.
“A lot of (major-sport) coaches don't want their players on the fitness team,” he said. “If a fitness coach retired, schools would try to replace them with one of the major-sport coaches, and the interest wasn't there.”
Martini said Penn Hills used to compete against fitness teams from Westinghouse, Schenley, Plum and Mars; now, the Indians team is the only one left in western Pennsyvlania, but that may be changing.
Martini said he places emphasis on the teamwork aspect of physical fitness.
“As we're training, we tell them, ‘Train your body, not your ego,'” he said. “The whole idea is to be healthy … it helps to know and have good relationships with your teammates and have them behind you pushing you.
“This is just a really, really good team.”
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penn Hills school board passes budget with tax increase
- Penn Hills district looks to cut transportation costs
- Irwin finalizes deal with Lamp Theatre board
- Imagine charter school keeps next year’s budget conservative
- Bailey steps down from Penn Hills board
- Penn Hills looks to fill vacancy on school board