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Gym Unites Local Bodybuilders
There's no air conditioning, and there's usually no heat. Many of the lights don't even work, and the building smells like sweat and stays dirty.
But day in and day out, dedicated bodybuilders put in hours of their time at Black-N-Gold gym in downtown Commerce.
Driven by dedication, determination and the will to get bigger and stronger, they push their bodies to the limit just to see a little improvement.
"You've got to really want to work out to come here," said Jeff Glenn, co-owner of the gym
The condition of the gym is all part of its atmosphere, Glenn said, and it isn't going to change.
"I had one guy ask me to put in air conditioning," he said. "I told him I would just take out the one fan we had. It's good to sweat."
The gym was opened in 1990 and is owned and operated by Glenn and his father, Gilmer. About 30 people pay to work out at the gym, most of who have their own key. The building housing the Black-N-Gold was once a sporting goods store.
"I'm real proud of this hole-in-the-wall place," Glenn said. "We got some broke corners on the mirrors, but we got what you need to get the job done."

Nearly 30 local bodybuilders work out at the Black-N-Gold gym in Commerce. Some of the most regular members, pictured above, are: (L-R) Ronald Parson, Cleve Tatum, Jeff Glenn, Shane Price and Keith Kimbrell.

The gym sports mostly free weights and weight machines. Except for a punching bag hanging from the ceiling, there is no aerobic equipment of any type. But according to Glenn, that is the way it's supposed to be.
"Real men don't do aerobics," he said. "Real men lift weights. Real men sweat."
Glenn said the gym brings together bodybuilders of different walks of life.
"We got people here who are in everything from law enforcement to pest contol to school to chicken farming to retail and even journalism," Glenn said.
The goal of most of the bodybuilders is the same: size and strength.
"I'm looking for size and strength," Shane Price, a regular at the gym, said.
"I work out to get size, strength and to stay in shape," said Keith Kimbrell, a 15-year weight lifting veteran. "I started in seventh grade doing sit-ups and pushups. I had some concrete weights, and I would sit down and do arms."
Kimbrell has been working out at the Black-N-Gold since 1991, making him one of the most longstanding current members at the gym.
A life-size portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger, hanging in one corner of the gym, reminds patrons of the ultimate goal in weightlifting.
"Arnold is above all of us," commented Preston Weldon, another frequenter of the gym.
Weldon and his cousin, Cleve Tatum, both of Nicholson, are currently working with Masters division bodybuilding professional Sam McClung to try and get into the bodybuilding contest circuit.
"We are going to try and get him to train us and get us working out right and get our nutrition right so we can compete and get noticed," Tatum said. "It's inevitable. One day I will compete."
Both Tatum and Weldon began working out while in middle school and have been at the Black-N-Gold since 1993.
"I started working out in seventh grade," Weldon said. "I had a steel pipe, and I put bricks on the end and did curls and bench (press). Then we got some round plastic-coated weights and Cleve started working out with me."
Glenn himself has spent a considerable part of his life working out. The former Jefferson football player has been lifting weights for more than 20 years. He now works for the Georgia State Patrol in the Investigative Services Division.
Glenn holds the Police and Fireman Olympics world record in bench press with 490 pounds. In 1993, he won a gold medal in weightlifting at the Police and Fireman Olympics.
But even without the glory that can come from winning contests and setting records, bodybuilders will continue to frequent the Black-N-Gold.
And even though there is no air conditioning, and every light doesn't always shine, they'll keep coming back. They enjoy working out and are determined to improve on their years of hard work.
So as long as the Black-N-Gold remains, they'll be there; getting bigger, getting stronger and lifting weights.

Standridge leaves Banks County
Former Leopard coach takes Clarke Central position
After 10 years as a coach and physical education teacher at Banks County High School, Warren Standridge is leaving to take a position at Clarke Central High School.
Standridge will coach defensive ends in football for the school, which competes in Region 8-AAAA. He will also coach the track team.
"This is something that happened last week," Standridge said. "This was something that the ball had to get rolling in a hurry to happen now.
"From a coaching standpoint, Clarke Central having the football tradition that it has, I just felt like this was something to I couldn't turn down."
Standridge had coached football, basketball and baseball at Banks County High School since starting as a teacher there in 1989.
"It was a real tough decision," Standridge said. "I hate leaving the kids. Because anything you asked out those kids you got. I made a lot of friends in those 10 years.
"It's not easy to say good-bye to all that. But sometimes you've got to move on to let better things happen. If I ever wanted to be a head coach, I think working at Clarke Central might open a few more doors than just having worked at Banks County."
The quick turnover did not give Standridge the chance to tell the Banks County players what he wanted to.
"Not being able to see the kids at Banks County, to tell them I was leaving, that was tough," Standridge said. "There's just been such a push to get this done that there wasn't time to do the things to make it right."
A graduate of Jackson County High School, Standridge will join former Jackson County Comprehensive High School athletic director and head football coach Jon Ward, who is also an assistant football coach at Clarke Central.
The Banks County board of education hired Doug Miolen to replace Standridge as a physical education teacher and football coach.
Miolen comes to BCHS from Mt. Zion High School in Jonesboro.
Miolen will teach physical education and be the strength coach for the BCHS Leopard athletic teams.

Three Madison County All Star teams bow out in district championships
Three Madison County teams battled all the way to the district championships in their respective tournaments but weren't able to generate any more momentum when they got there.
The 11-and-12-year-old National League all-stars, the Senior League all-stars and the Senior League fast-pitch softball all-stars, the only Madison County squads remaining from those who began on July 1, ended play this past week as each team was ousted from tournament action.
The 11-and-12-year-old squad's season was brought to a close on Friday as they were downed by the Toccoa American all-star squad by a count of 7-0. The Madison County squad, which topped Toccoa National and Franklin National in the first two rounds, earned their way into the district championship after claiming the Area 1 championship by eliminating Toccoa National on Thursday by a score of 8-1, after falling to the same squad in 3-2 in the previous game.
However, the offense went cold on Friday as the Toccoa American team shut their bats down in the contest.
The Toccoa squad generated their first run of the game in the bottom of the third inning and then tacked on two more in the following inning to give themselves a 3-0 edge. However, the squad poured it on in the fifth inning, getting a three-run homer and then pushing home an additional run to give them the seven-run cushion.
"We really had a good group," coach Greg Osborne said of the team and their play during the all-star season. "We just had some bad breaks. We should have another good group next year."
The all-star season came to a close for the senior league squad as Franklin County overwhelmed them 11-1 to claim the district championship.
"We just got out-played," explained coach Bill Taylor of the loss to Franklin. But we played well in the tournament. We finished second. So I thought we did pretty good.
The team fought their way to the district championship by opening up with a 5-0 win over Habersham. The squad then followed a 9-8 loss to Franklin County with a 14-6 drumming of Hart County, earning themselves a rematch with Franklin County.
The Senior League fast-pitch team bowed out of their tournament as they were bested by Hart County for the second time in all-star play. The team, who the Madison County squad topped 7-4 in their opening game, claimed back-to-back wins over the senior league girls as Hart County picked up an 8-2 win last Tuesday and then took the district championship with a 10-2 defeat of Madison County.
"We just didn't hit the ball," said coach Bobby Yarborough of the team's final game.

JCCHS, JHS football players not taking the summer off
During high school, summertime means sleeping late and taking trips to the beach. But instead, some Jackson County Comprehensive and Jefferson high schools football players are using the summer for strength conditioning.
"I think that the kids that are out there doing this are going to be ahead of the ones that didn't, come this fall," said Panther head football coach Greg Lowe.
JCCHS is holding weight training sessions twice daily on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. and from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The training regimen includes free weights and a managed running program.
"We started with moderate work, and now, as we are going through the summer, it is getting more and more difficult," Lowe said. "This is where the good work ethic is really coming through."
Players do upper body and leg strengthening in the weight room before hitting the track. On the track, each participant runs six 200-meter sprints. JCCHS assistant coach Steve Collins said the eight-week program works like a pyramid, with harder workouts being added as the course progresses.
According to Lowe, the program helps in more ways than just one.
"Strength conditioning is very important on two different levels," he said. "It makes you better physically, but, more importantly, it establishes good work ethics and shows good team participation."
Due to GHSA regulations, the practices cannot be mandatory. Turnout, Lowe said, has been O.K. to good. Overall, about 60 percent of the Panther team has participated in the workouts.
The conditioning program will continue through July 28 when the Panthers begin team practices in helmets only. The following week, players will suit up for practice in full pads.
Jefferson High School is also holding a conditioning program for its football players. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., the weight room is open for training.
Dragon head coach Bob Gurley said that players can participate in a seperate running program on their own.
Gurley said he believes building strength can make up for size and speed, while helping prevent injuries.
"You can get away with not being real big and real fast if your kids are strong," he said. "Also, the stronger you are, the less chance you have of getting injured."
Jefferson's players began their workouts before getting out of school in May and will continue with them until football practice starts July 26.
Practices will begin during one of the hottest parts of the summer, making it more demanding.
"It gets real hot practicing with all that gear on," said Gurley. "Working out during the summer gets the kids in good condition for practice."
According to Gurley, participation in the weight training program at JHS has been pretty good.
"Participation is the best since we've been here," Gurley said.
With the change in Jefferson City Schools' schedule, the shortened summer puts some strain on participation.
"It could be better, but we have a really short summer this year," said Gurley. "The kids are trying to pack a lot of things in, and they need to be kids while they still can."

Let the magic come to you
Drew Brantley
Magic rests in the dust and rocks that cover the youth softball and baseball fields in the height of summer.
That mix of fantasy, fortune and fun falls off every cleat that touches a base and creeps out in the tears of those who, after losing for the last time, pack up their bats, balls and dreams to return home for pool parties, summer jobs or whatever else youths can do during summer vacation.
For some, the magic ride lasts longer. A precious few finish the oddly short trip to a state title.
But all who play get a chance to test why the distance between a winning dugout and the one on the other side of the field cannot be measured in mere feet.
For these young people, they receive a taste of the bitter and the sweet that will await when their gloves become too small for their hands and their uniforms don't fit anymore.
But it is a magic that is not only for those who cannot drive themselves to the game.
Front row seats at Game 7 of the World Series would hold little value as an alternative for most of the parents who fill bleachers or their own folding chairs along the chain-link fences at summer tournament games.
Compared to the sight of their child trying to win a game that might be decided on the ugliest play ever conceived in diamond sports, a game between the two best baseball teams can wait.
Nearly a mile away from a youth all-star game, the shrieks of undeveloped vocal cords and tiny stomping feat carry well enough.
The reason for the cheering might be a grand slam home run that wins the championship, or it might just be that the right fielder dropped the pop fly to let another runner reach base safely. For many of the players, the difference is not so much.
They began playing with tee ball, a throng of players chasing the ball around the field as if it were a prized Easter egg.
As they grow older, they learn which base to run to first, how to swing level, what to do when someone yells "cut-three" or why a finger to the nose after touching the cap would have meant bunt if the coach hadn't have touched his ear first.
As their understanding of the game increases, the stakes rise with them. Games mean more. Winning becomes more important.
The games become more of a way to define the players as people. And too soon they are grown and watching their own child win the chase to the tee ball without a clue of where their new prize should go.
It is just a game to the kids.
They want to do well. They want to win. But if they don't, a hot dog or a nap usually eases the pain.
It is a resilience that slips away somewhere in the climb to maturity. It is one piece of evidence that magic is still out there even if it is difficult to locate.
But the magic is out there. It is close to the ground out on the field. Don't look for it because you can really see only its effects.
If it is not easily revealed to you, watch the kids. They will find it and bring it to you. Just let the kids find the magic, be-cause they always do.
And they always will.

Drew Brantley is the sports editor for The Commerce News and The Banks County News. Email Drew Brantley


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