Speed and Strength Coach competes in Olympic lifting

Speed and Strength Coach competes in Olympic lifting

Photo by Jaclyn De Vries

When walking into the Mckenzie Athletic Building, one might hear many noises--weights being thrown on the ground, music blaring in the background or many people talking about how hard their workout is. But one thing that is always heard above all the noise is the yell of Olympic lifter and speed and strength coach Clint Spencer.

Spencer started powerlifting in high school and was an Olympic lifter in college while playing football at Tennessee Tech University. After his football career, Spencer became student assistant at Tennessee Tech and quickly became head speed and strength coach after that.

Although he has had many years of training under his belt, he believes one of the reasons he became good so quickly is because he was a speed and strength coach at Tennessee Tech for six years.

'I was the only one there [at Tennessee Tech] to be the speed and strength coach,' Spencer said. 'I got thrown in the fire. I learned a lot of mistakes real quick and how to deal with them. So I got pretty good quick because I knew what not to do.'

Spencer knows exactly what he is doing now. He always has command of his weight room. He knows what teams are in the weight room, what individuals are in the weight room and what areas of work players need to improve.

In one hour more than 30 students were in and out of the weight room, and Spencer knew them all and had each of them doing exactly what he wanted.

'Keep those elbows up high!' he yelled across the room. Then he spoke with another athlete on a different side of the room, 'Derek, you have the weight, you just have to trust yourself once you get it up there.'

Spencer trains hundreds of athletes at all levels, including professional players.  His philosophy for every athlete he trains is, 'every rep is your best rep.'

Spencer coined the term 'every rep is your best rep' when he had one of the proudest moments of his weightlifting career. Despite winning multiple PowerLifting Nationals and Master Olympic lifting competitions, his proudest moment came at a weightlifting competition in Georgia.

As Spencer went out to snatch 275 pounds on his second lift, the unexpected happened.

'As I jumped into the squat with the bar overhead, my elbow dislocated and came back into place all in a warp speed moment freaking the crowd and myself out,' Spencer said.

Despite dislocating his elbow, he went on to complete the lift and two other lifts after that.

'[It was] an accomplishment of never quitting,' Spencer said. 'So that weekend I coined my motto every rep is your best rep.'

He said this motto should not only be used in sports, but in life as well.

Spencer is the coach of many, but for some, he has been far more than that. A graduate from Lee, Chevis Brooks, who is now a coach in Dalton, Georgia, knows that Spencer is much more than a coach to him.

'It goes beyond the athlete-coach relationship for me,' Brooks said. 'Clint is like a brother to me. He was the tipping point that caused a massive shift, moving me from someone who had a hard time believing in himself, but believing in others around me.'

For another graduate of Lee and student of Spencer Aaron Powell, who is now a coach in North Carolina, he said that Spencer not only made him a better athlete, but a better person as well.

'Clinton Spencer changed my life completely,' Powell said. 'His style of training not only made me a better athlete but a better person, man and person of faith. He helped me believe that anything is possible even when the impossible strikes.'

Spencer knows that he can have an impact on many athletes' lives apart from their sport. He said he wants to help kids no matter where they come from.

'My passion is training athletes and making them better for their sport and keeping them injury-free,' Spencer said. '[My passion is also] mentoring them on their way through life. I lived it hard when I was in college and I don't want them to make the same mistakes I made. I try to give back to all these kids, whatever walk of life they come from.'

He has not only given back to Lee and its students, but also to students all over the country. He helped start a football program at Southern Nazarene University, coached athletes in the NFL, MLS, the US Track Team and MLB. He also coached the U-17 Men's Weightlifting National Team last year and is now coaching Derek Shugart.

Spencer believes Shugart is a top-5 lifter in the country. He played baseball at Lindsey-Wilson University and training to go to nationals in the Mckenzie building at Lee. Shugart believes everything he has accomplished has been because of Spencer.

'Clint is definitely the reason I got as good as I was,' Shugart said. 'My speed went up, I started hitting home-runs. I was hitting doubles, triples and stealing bases left and right'Clint has made a huge impact on my career.'

Spencer is currently training over 200 athletes just at Lee, he is a scout for a Canadian Football League team and helps a minor league baseball team in Alabama with their training.

Despite all of the athletes he has trained, all of the professional football players, professional baseball players and professional weightlifters, Spencer, and the athletes he trains, know that he is the strongest of all of them.

'As for Clint as a lifter, I have never seen anyone that strong before, including guys I have played football with who ended up going to the NFL,' Brooks said. 'The guy is a freak.'

Spencer's assistant and rugby player at Lee University, Chris Martin said that Spencer would never make his athletes do something he has not tried.

'Clint is very driven and confident,' Martin said. 'He tries everything on himself before throwing an athlete on it.'

Spencer has not participated in a competition, national or international level in over five years. Spencer will qualify for Pan-American Games on April 18th and he said that Pan-American Games will be where he retires.

'My first meet this year will be April 18 where I will qualify for Pan-American Games,' Spencer said. 'Hopefully I will go to Pan-Americas with 30 countries and bring back a gold medal for team USA'Pan-Ams, right now will be where I will retire. I love this sport. I'll continue training athletes for the sport of Olympic weightlifting, but this year is where I stop.'

Spencer knows that he will always be around this sport and for many of his athletes, he will always be their coach, no matter how long it's been since he has trained them.

'Clint is still my coach to this day,' Brooks said. 'I wouldn't have another because he is unarguably, the best of the best.'

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