SHORT GAP - In today's day and age, weight training is an essential part of athletics, regardless of the sport.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
SHORT GAP - In today’s day and age, weight training is an essential part of athletics, regardless of the sport.  
In a high school’s weight room, athletes of all genders, all sports, all shapes and sizes train for strength and endurance. That’s certainly the outlook taken by the Frankfort Athletic Boosters Club recently as they purchased approximately $ 20,000 worth of weight training equipment to newly outfit the school’s weight room.
While that’s a good enough story in and of itself, the story doesn’t end there. Frankfort was then able to donate their existing equipment to the recently formed Allegany Youth Enrichment Program Services organization based in Cumberland. AYEPS, as it is known, is a program formed through the volunteer efforts of Cumberland City Police Officers and other volunteers that allow youth participants a safe and secure environment to participate in group activities with people their own age.
According to Cumberland City Police Officer Alan Zapf, a leader within the AYEPS organization, “these structured activities teach local youth values such as team building, leadership and self-esteem.”  
Currently, AYEPS offers boxing among other supervised activities, all with a positive approach designed to partner youth with law enforcement and other professionals who can make a positive difference in the lives of the participants.
According to Frankfort Athletic Booster Club president Missy Clark, the $ 20,000 was pulled from the club’s general fund, not from a specifically target fundraising effort.  
“We use money from general fundraising from events like Miss Falcon, Toughman, and concession stands throughout the year to build the general fund for projects such as this. The school did not have to incur any costs for this, therefore, they can make the limited dollars they get for athletics go further,” Clark stated.
The $ 20,000 spent by the Boosters Club was maximized by the efforts of the more than 25-30 volunteers who assembled at Frankfort throughout the day on Saturday to unload and set up the new equipment, a little sweat equity that allowed for the stretching of every dollar.  
According to Clark, “The weight room gets used more and more by each of our student athletes and we have slowly been upgrading it. Last year it got a facelift with paint and mirrors and also some new bars and equipment. We spent about $10,000 on that. The coaches came to us again and explained the need for better lifting equipment. The machines were getting older but not in terrible condition, and will serve the AYEPS organization well in their amazing efforts.”
As to how the idea for donating the equipment to AYEPS came about, Clark insists it was really just an issue of perfect timing.  According to Clark, “One of our Booster Club officers, Kristal Weaver, and a few other Frankfort alums, are involved with the group (AYEPS). When we were discussing at the Booster Club meeting what to do with the old equipment, donating it to AYEPS came up, and it just worked out perfectly. They said they would love to take it and it was great for them.”
There’s a tradition at Frankfort that when equipment gets upgraded, the old stuff gets donated to a deserving and desiring organization. Most recently, when the football scoreboard was upgraded, the gently used scoreboard was donated to the Frankfort Colts football organization. The scoreboard previous to that was donated to Ridgeley for use by the Rams and Hawks football organizations.  
While this weight lifting equipment was donated to a Cumberland-based organization, the reality is that it will be put to use by Cumberland and West Virginia residents alike as AYEPS has graciously opened their arms to participating youths from Mineral County as well.
According to Officer Alan Zapf, “Any kids in middle school or high school can participate. We do have kids from West Virginia and we wish to have more.”
According to Zapf, AYEPS is in the process of looking for a permanent location.They have one in mind but don’t want to jinx it.  
“Kristal Weaver from Permanent Hair Solutions on Centre Street is the person that helped with the equipment. Kristal is also helping with the new location as well,” Zapf detailed.
According to Zapf, “The boxing is currently being held at the Warehouse Gym on George Street in Cumberland across from the Ramada Inn. They have been very generous with letting the kids use the boxing room.  
“We began with three participants in November. To date, we have had 52 sign in with us. Not all show up all the time, but they come and go with family functions and other obligations. We are referred to as coaches by the kids; myself, Jeremy Hedrick, Adam Ashby, Renee Kniesley, and Patricia Painter. There are several others that help out,” Zapf explains.
So it’s a win-win situation for all involved. Frankfort student-athletes have obtained updated weight training equipment that will benefit all student-athletes in the school. The equipment came at no cost to the athletic budget as the Frankfort Athletic Booster’s Club funded the entire effort through general fundraising, utilizing volunteers to stretch every dollar expended.
On top of it all, however, is the news that the replaced equipment, which is safe, operable, and fully functional, will be put to good use through the AYEPS organization, which services youth from Cumberland and all of the surrounding areas.  
Timing is everything.