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Working into dreams: Boyd student shapes up to meet military requirements

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, May 30, 2018
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Shaping Up

SHAPING UP – Boyd’s Erinest Solley does a push-up during a workout last week with the Military Fitness Group. Solley plans to enlist in the Air Force. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Erinest Solley dreams of entering the Air Force and working in a tactical position, calling in air strikes and then ultimately joining a SWAT team.

Those dreams seemed out of reach for the then Boyd sophomore last October due to the rigorous fitness demands, especially for the Air Force.

“You have to be able to do 48 push-ups in two minutes and the sit-ups are the same,” Solley spouted.

Erinest Solley

At that time, he could do only five push-ups and 10 sit-ups. Seven months later after hours of training with members of the Boyd High School Military Fitness Club and Boyd ISD Director of College and Career Readiness James McDonald, Solley has dropped more than 30 pounds from 210 to around 175 pounds and is close to meeting many of the fitness requirements for enlisting in the Air Force.

“They’ve been really good at pushing me and keeping me going,” Solley said. “If it was just me, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

“I believe I’ll get where I need to be.”

McDonald is astonished by the transformation physically and socially in Solley, who will be a junior in the fall.

“I’ve had Erinest since the seventh grade, and he was always shy,” McDonald said. “He’s really blossomed here. He has a voice now where before he was soft spoken. He has a presence when he’s walking down the hall. He’s not just a wallflower anymore.”

Thinking about joining the military after high school, he accepted the challenge from National Guard enlistee Cruz Montes to join the group for a workout.

“One of my friends threatened me to be there,” Solley said. “I showed up that Wednesday and started doing the morning workouts with them.”

It was a struggle at first for him to keep up with the others in the group, many who were athletes. McDonald tailored workouts for him to help him get started.

“Some of the best athletes in the school were here,” McDonald said. “I had to modify everything for him. He didn’t let that stop him.

“One of the biggest things that limits people is fear. Fear stopped me from doing things I wanted. To see a young man move past his fears and not set limits is impressive.”

It didn’t take long for Solley to become hooked and become a regular for workouts. McDonald said the sophomore would walk to workouts at 6:30 a.m. and soon started asking for additional workouts he could do at home. The two also discussed healthy eating habits.

Solley’s fitness level went from what he described as “not good at all” to catching up with the rest of the group by early spring. He went from only being able to do five push-ups to 35. He’s up to 80 sit-ups.

“When I started, I was really far behind them. I’m now at their level or a lot closer,” Solley said.

Solley recently met with an Air Force recruiter and hopes to enlist next year. He admits he originally wanted to join the Army and changed his mind after learning about avionics.

“I saw this pamphlet for avionics and was making fun of it. Then I started looking at it more and more and what they had in the Air Force,” Solley said. “Is there anything where you could be out on the battlefield? I started looking at it, and there’s a good amount of jobs where you are out there with your fellow brothers.”

McDonald pointed out the job that Solley wants to do has stricter physical guidelines, and it has not deterred him.

“He’s driven and has a purpose,” McDonald said. “It’s impressive. It’s hard to get a kid to see past their limitations. The body will go way past what the mind says.”

Solley was also guided to military service by an interest in counter-terrorism. He eventually wants to work in law enforcement as a member of a SWAT team.

As he nears his goals, Solley is thankful to the other members of the Military Fitness Club and McDonald.

“Mr. McDonald has been a great role model,” he said.

He plans to continue working out through the summer and next year to meet all the requirements. He also hopes others will pursue their dreams and not accept limitations.

“You can pick what you want to do and just do it,” Solley said.

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