Mt. Blue coach Nate Quirion is surrounded by cheering intramural lifters as Caleb Haines does his best to get another rep during intramural lifting at Mt. Blue’s weight room the past week. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

FARMINGTON — The thunderous hollering resonating from the Mt. Blue High School weight room sounds like a bunch of U.S. Marines training at Parris Island.

The shouting echos across the parking lot and sometimes startles a passerby. A couple of dozen grunts bellowing in a small room is enough to make bystanders consider having their hearing checked by an E.N.E specialist.

Inside this weight room, the music blares and the camaraderie solidifies in this rowdy environment — where sweat runs like a swift river and screams of athletes straining to heft serious weight is deafening.

“We believe that nothing great ever happened without enthusiasm,” Mt. Blue coach Nate Quirion said. “We emphasize enthusiasm, energy and intensity in everything we do.

“Our staff believes strongly in the benefits of implementing a strength and conditioning program. We feel it helps to build camaraderie, teamwork, resiliency, and confidence in everyone involved.”

Senior Dakota Mumma said the benefits of working out will payoff in big dividends when his football season begins.

“I’d say you get stronger for the season coming up and builds a better bond with teammates and coaches,” Mumma said. “I love it. I am one of the most loudest in there and I make sure everyone else is loud.”

The weight room is just a jump-off point for all Mt. Blue athletes who use the Intramural Lift program to train for their sport.

“We began offering an Intramural Lift open to all Mt. Blue High School students the Monday following Thanksgiving,” Quirion said. “The expectation set for our football players was that if they were not participating in a winter sport, that they attend the intramural lifts.”

Nearly 30 participants of the intramural lift program gathered in the weight room to conduct a lifting drill that would send most adults reaching for the Ibprofen. The task was to get as many bench-press repetitions while the rest of the weight lifters shouted encouragement at the top of their lungs.

Tight end and outside linebacker Levi Hiltz said his weight room regime helps him get a lot stronger and focus on the sport.

“It is a lot more interesting than going to the gym and having a simple lift,” Hiltz said. “It is a lot more involved and you feel like you are getting something out of it.

“Normally, when I go to the gym by myself, I don’t feel like I am all into it. The team around you getts you pumped up, it pushes you.”

Senior left guard and defensive tackle Colin Hutchins said intramural lifting keeps him in the loop.

“It helps me get a lot stronger,” he said. “It helps me stay in touch with my teammates even in the off-season. “

“We offer Intramural Lift twice a week,” Quirion said. “We are implementing nearly an identical program to the one I took part in as a member of the coaching staff at Husson University.

“Our student-athletes have certainly made tremendous gains as a result of their hard work. The commitment is only two and half hours per week. This allows for time to focus on academics and other interests, which we feel is healthy.”

Quirion said the intramural lifting program has been a tremendous success.

“We feel that it is important for our student-athletes to have some time away immediately following the season to rest, recover and focus their energy in other areas,” Quirion said. “We feel that the week following Thanksgiving is a natural starting point to begin off-season weight training for those who are not participating in a winter sport.”

Quirion, along with other volunteer coaches, acts as a spotter and mentor in the weight room.

“We don’t work out with the student-athletes,” Quirion said. “What we do is observe the players while they execute the program. We offer feedback, encouragement, direction and we serve as spotters.

“Who wouldn’t want to be part of Intramural Lift? That’s the way we feel. We cheer each other on, we pull for one another, we play music, we hand out T-shirts to those individuals who demonstrate sustained dedication and effort.

“We’ve had terrific participation and commitment. There is a positive buzz in the air in regards to the great things our student athletes are doing in the weight room.”

Senior rover and wide receiver Kyle Heikkinen has been lifting for months because he doesn’t play a spring sport.

“It gets everybody stronger,” Heikkinen said. “It makes the team build a better bond. Helps them work better together.

“(The weight room) pushes you harder when everyone is cheering you on. (Quirion) pushes everyone and makes sure everyone is pushing to their full potential.”

The inspiration and enthusiasm from Quirion and other volunteer coaches is infectious. You can feel and hear it in Mt. Blue athletes in the weight room.

“I think it does. Our student-athletes are perceptive,” Quirion said. “They know when someone is being genuine and when someone isn’t. We have worked hard to develop a relationship with our players. We’ve worked hard to earn their trust.

“They know that we are competent, and they know that we care about them beyond the football field and beyond the weight room. Our dedication to our student athletes has been reciprocated with their dedication and effort. We couldn’t be more proud of our young men.”

Eddie Hebert, middle, spots a fellow weightlifter during intramural lifting at Mt. Blue’s weight room the past week. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

Tucker Nicholas focuses on the bench during intramural lifting at Mt. Blue’s weight room the past week. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

Jon Howard cheers on a weightlifter during intramural lifting at Mt. Blue’s weight room the past week. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

Zach Delano strains to get another rep on the bench press. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

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