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Seeing the project through

SCSCA presents its founder, Ron Blackmon, with the organization’s lifetime achievement award

Posted: May 17, 2012 12:03 p.m.
Updated: May 18, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Ron Blackmon, the former North Central High School head football coach and athletic director, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the South Carolina Strength Coaches Association (SCSCA) at the South Carolina High School Powerlifting Meet earlier this spring.
It was the latest honor for the Camden businessman who was also in the inaugural class of the SCSCA’s Hall of Fame.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award,” Blackmon said. “God has really blessed me with so much in my life during my years of teaching and coaching in public education, but this award is one that I am especially grateful to have.”  
In 1982, Blackmon began working with Keith Kephart who, at the time, was the strength coach at the University of South Carolina, to start a strength competition for high school student-athletes. Blackmon was the first coach to present the idea to the Executive Committee of the South Carolina High School League for their approval. Blackmon remembers that former Camden High School Head Football Coach, Billy Ammons, was a member of the Executive Committee which approved and allowed the development of the association. “I will always be grateful to Coach Ammons for his vote and support at that meeting,” he said.
With the approval of the South Carolina High School League, Blackmon was elected to be the first president of the SCSCA, and set out to promote the very first South Carolina High School Strength Competition.  Blackmon developed the proposal for the organization of the meet; which included the equipment to be used, weight classes, age groups, and the scoring and judging rules. He also worked to develop guidelines for putting together the regions across the state, and the implementation of judges, region finals and the concept of region directors and a state chairman.
Categories of competition for the student-athletes were developed which included the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, bench press, squat and a total weight for the combined two strength events.  Many athletes who have competed in the South Carolina State Strength Competition went on to receive Division I, II and III athletic scholarships, with some playing on the professional level and who still play today. 
Blackmon also developed the idea to have a Junior Varsity State Strength Competition, which offered the younger student- athletes an opportunity to compete against their own age groups, instead of competing against the older, more mature upperclassmen. 
“There was so much to be done, and so much that was done back in those old days as we started all of this; and I could have never done any of it alone or without the grace of God,” he said. “So many coaches throughout all of South Carolina pitched in to help.  It is because of their collective efforts that the South Carolina Strength Competition has grown into one of our state’s largest high school events year after year. 
“What started in the 1980s with a few, has become an event in which thousands of student-athletes compete in each year with the regional varsity and junior varsity strength competitions. The top three winners in the regionals in each weight class compete in the state finals to determine who will be the strongest high school student-athlete. We have come a long, long way.”
This year’s meet began a new era and dimension to the level of strength competition. The meet was a full power meet and was promoted by the SC High School Strength Coaches Association and held by Donnie Thompson. 
“This is just another great opportunity for our high school kids to compete and will showcase South Carolina’s strongest high school athletes in powerlifting competing in the squat, bench press, deadlift and  combined total scores,” Blackmon said.
“I think it was fitting that the ‘World’s Strongest Man’, Donnie Thompson, be the first person to hold this inaugural  power meet Saturday at Spring Valley High School. He is the only person in the world to lift for a combined total of 3,000 pounds. I am so grateful to have seen the beginning of yet another extension to a sport that I have spent most of my life, coaching, teaching and competing in. 
“To me, this opens another door for our student-athletes to be involved with something that is positive and inclusive. Having this power lifting meet brings a whole new dimension to strength competition in South Carolina because it is open to everyone to compete in. Girls and boys, along with individuals with special needs can compete in this event. This is what I think makes this sport so great.” 
Blackmon pointed out the benefits of such a competition. “It prepares our young people for a stronger athletic career, and promotes wellness and healthy lifestyles for everyone,” he said. “It’s a win for everyone involved.” 
In 2005, Blackmon become the first coach to be inducted into the South Carolina High School Strength Coaches Association Hall of Fame and remains a lifetime member of the Board of Directors for the SCSCA 
“I am just so grateful and appreciative to all the coaches and athletes that have worked so hard to make our association and strength competitions to be the great events and organization that they are today,” he said. “I have been truly blessed to know so many coaches and other individuals that understand the importance of strength training and what it can do for our student-athletes.  I am just so thankful to God that I have been able to be a part of it all.”

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