There’s no slacking off for this 79-year-old football coach

Usually in these Fitness Profiles, we give a little background first. But with Sam Shields, who, at 79, is an assistant football coach at Trinity Christian Academy, his workout is so astounding, inspiring, awe-inducing and all sorts of equally are-you-kidding?! adjectives, we’ll get right to that part.

Typical week of workouts: Every Monday through Friday, I do the following:

Jog five-and-a-half miles

Sprint 40 yards, 40 times

Do three types of pull-ups, three sets each of 36, for a total of 324.

Do 10 sets of 50 push-ups. Total: 500.

Do 10 sets of 50 full-body sit-ups. Total: 500.

Do weight-training: Three sets each of curls, bench press, incline press, military press, and flys.


Fitness has always been important to Shields, who says that as a U.S. Marine, he had to be in great shape if he wanted to survive. Ditto for playing high school, college and professional football.

“When I started coaching, I wanted to be a positive role model for my athletes and other coaches,” says Shields, who lives in McKinney, Texas.

If I had 20 minutes to work out, I would: Jog five minutes, sprint five minutes, do pull-ups for five minutes and do push-ups for five minutes.

What gets in the way of my exercise? Weather, time, my job, yard work, company, cooking and housework.

Proudest fitness moment: When I can get through my entire workout in under two-and-a-half hours.

Fitness goals: To always have a great positive attitude toward my workout, even if I don’t finish in two-and-a-half hours.

Favorite healthy food: Turkey breast sandwich, plus a whey shake with Spark energy drink in it

Favorite indulgences: Watching college and pro football games on Saturday and Sunday; going to the park and playing with my 4-year-old great-grandson; reading books by Tom Clancy.

Three things you’ll always find in my refrigerator: Crystal Light (I don’t like to drink water); whey; deli turkey breast.

Fitness mentor: God. He is with me in all that I do and definitely helps me in all I do, especially in my coaching.

What my workout says about me: I have a great deal of self-discipline. I’m self-motivated and have a positive attitude toward life.

This started out differently than most Fitness Profiles, and we’re going to end it differently as well. In addition to his athletic pursuits, Coach Shields has written poetry since he was a grade-school student.

He shared one of his poems with us. “In Memory of My Granddaughter,” was written after the death of Mary Elizabeth, who died in 1993 at the age of two months, three days. Here’s part of it:

… So now I wake up each morning about half past three

And work out on weights, and run to ease my grief.

Some people think it’s crazy and my family probably agrees

For a person to get up at a quarter past three

But each person has to deal with the problems at hand

And I deal with this problem the best that I can.

“Fitness and training helps you prepare for all the good and bad things that you meet in life,” he says. “You need to be able to deal with stress and have a positive attitude to be successful.”

Reader Comments

Next Up in Lifestyles

Recipe of the Week: Give turkey a break with this tarragon chicken
Recipe of the Week: Give turkey a break with this tarragon chicken
After all this turkey we’ve been eating, maybe it’s time for a weeknight chicken dish.This spin on poulet à l’estragon, or tarragon chicken, comes...
Today’s horoscopes - Sunday, December 4
ARIES (March 21-April 19). The ordinary thing before you has a deep truth to it. You’ll find out just what that is — or at least glimpse it for a...
Dear Abby - Sunday, December 4
Dear Abby: I am a happily married man with one problem that doesn’t go away. I convinced my wife, “Ellen,” to move to Florida so we could be close to...
Hit the Trail of Lights and other holiday stops as a family, Dec. 4-10
Hit the Trail of Lights and other holiday stops as a family, Dec. 4-10
Holiday eventsTrail of Lights. See Zilker Park all lighted up. 7-10 p.m. Saturday through Dec. 23. Free Saturday through Dec.
The wonders of Oaxaca
The wonders of Oaxaca
If Mexico City is the sprawling, cosmopolitan member of Mexico’s collection of diverse cities, and Cancun its sexy, sun-kissed cousin, Oaxaca is the...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on