BRYANT, Ark.- Motivating and encouraging players is part of what comes with the job for a high school football coach, but off the field, it’s the ball coach who needs encouragement.
Beginning last March, Bryant Head Coach Buck James has been working out three times a week at the Fit Factory in West Little Rock, and the results have been tremendous.
“If we get Buck’s body to match his attitude, we’re in trouble,” says a trainer.
“I was somewhere in the 340 range, and then I got down to 262 and I’m between 265 and 270 right now,” says James.
The change in coach’s lifestyle was the result of an injury he suffered while picking up equipment.
“I tore my rotator cuff,” James recalls. “Doctors when I went up to them, they gave my steroid packs and, you know, pain relief medicine to try to help it and what it did was it shot up my blood pressure, went to about 190 over 120, my sugar was around 500. The internal medicine doctor and the spinal doctor, they both said, you know, if I don’t get something done, it’s gonna be a bad ending.”
James would then receive a phone call that would soon help turn his health around.
“Jeff Lawrence called me and said, ‘I can fix you if you’ll let me,’ and he said, ‘All I need you for is 30 minutes a day, about three days a week,’ and he said, ‘I can get you healthy,’ James says. “He set me up a diet plan, he set me up an exercise regimen and I went to work.”
“It’s just getting him doing the weight training, you know, is what made that happen,” says Jeff Lawrence. “He’s got a lot of muscle, he’s just not worked it in so long, and it’s made him lose a bunch of fat quick.”
Coach’s weight loss has made an impact on a lot of people around him, including his family, who have adopted James’ new eating habits and also hsi determination has inspired the players he leads.
“I started seeing some difference, because you know, he was moving all over the field,” says Nate Wallace “You kinda saw how he was watching us, talking and just being a part of the team, a whole lot more, even though he already is. It just taught us that it’s never too late to work out, and it like inspired us. Inspired me in the weight room to push myself harder, especially since he’s working, doing the same stuff we’re doing.”
“Practice, he’d be drenched in sweat,” Kajuan Robinson recalls. “Like two years ago, he’d be sweaty all the time, but now, it’d be so hot outside, you won’t even see a drip of sweat off of him. He got into it. He like got into the weight room, back into the weight room again, so that was big for our team.”
“They have come up to me and said things like, ‘Coach, you really look good. You’ve really changed a lot,’ says James. “I think it’s helped our lineman because, you know, I really relate to those guys, ’cause I understand what that’s like, you know. We want them to be big and strong, but you know, as soon as this is over, we want them to get back and be healthy guys.”
Overall, it was a change to not only improve himself, but to also make sure he’ll be there for the people he cares about.
“Life’s too important for my kids and my wife and my family,” James says. “There’s a lot of people who depend on me, you know, from our coaches to our kids. I know we’re all replaceable, but at the end of the day, you wanna be accountable for your own situation, and that’s what I’ve tried to do.”
It’s definitely been a big year for James, and it could get even bigger.
The Bryant Hornets will play in the 7A Semi Finals on Friday night.