“GOTTA GO TO WORK!”
The four-word phrase is emphasized across a giant banner as student-athletes enter the west doors of the Manual Career Technical Center. For anyone associated with the Chiefs during the Dick Vermeil era, “GOTTA GO TO WORK!” is a familiar slogan.
Anders didn't play for Vermeil, but the message is perfect for student-athletes making their way to Manual each summer morning.
Prior to renovations at the Chiefs Training Facility, “GOTTA GO TO WORK!” was painted across the main wall inside the Chiefs weight room. Players like Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzalez and Trent Green wore workout gear with the motto written across their chests and the slogan echoed throughout Arrowhead’s tunnels on gameday.
“GOTTA GO TO WORK” was a way of life for the Chiefs from 2001-05 and those words have now transformed into a summer reminder for student-athletes in the Kansas City Missouri School District (KSMSD).
Good things are happening at Manual, a building filled with Chiefs connections located just west of the historic 18th and Vine District, and former Chiefs RB Kimble Anders is at the heart of the transformation.
What began as an airy hope for a new athletic director in a budget-crunched district has turned into a focused summer program for student-athletes across KSMSD’s Interscholastic League. Free to district students, Anders’ summer creation aims to develop those with college aspirations both athletically and academically.
“We call it the college-bound student center and athletic facility,” Anders explained. “We try to set up things the way that colleges have it with our strength and conditioning program, leadership programs and things of that nature to give the kids, particularly in the summer time, something to do and also get them ready for the upcoming season.
“A lot of others schools in other districts have off-season training programs and we’re just trying to create that same atmosphere around here.”
Billy Long, a former assistant strength and conditioning coach under Vermeil, was the creator of the Chiefs “GOTTA GO TO WORK” cry and one of Anders’ initial hires to run workouts during the program’s first summer in 2010. With Long’s assistance in laying the workout agenda for attendees, Anders has been able to further the program with the help of others in 2011.
Most recently, Anders used his relationship with the Chiefs to secure professional upgrades throughout Manual’s in-house weight facility.
This week, Chiefs equipment manager Allen Wright and his staff loaded a number of Hammer Strength and Power Lift machines, as well as dumbbells and free weights, into what was once a large storage closet belonging to the ROTC.
Through off-season conversations with Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli, Wright helped make arrangements to upgrade Anders’ vision for KSMSD student-athletes. The Chiefs also arranged for more than 500 football cleats to go to the district last month.
The addition of the Chiefs workout machinery is one of the final touches to a transformed weight facility complete with rubber flooring and mirrors. Much of the equipment was used by Chiefs players who once wore “GOTTA GO TO WORK!” t-shirts and was utilities by the team as recently as last season.
“We’ve basically transformed this building all by ourselves,” said Anders. “The ROTC had the bottom floor and when we first got here last summer we were set up in a small room. We were able to secure the entire floor this year and are trying our best to make it into a college type of atmosphere.”
College prep is one of Anders’ primary focuses in the building that he also keeps his office.
A student-athlete lounge highlights the facility, complete with a library full of ACT Prep materials, Algebra books and computer stations wired with internet access. Here, college-bound students can get help registering with the NCAA Clearinghouse and understanding the steps they need to take towards qualifying for college. It’s a place that they can spend their summer mornings and afternoons productively.
Anders also uses district history as motivational tool.
Photos of successful KSMSD alums line the halls alongside makeshift shrines of random trophies gathered from the 1980s and 90s and 2000s. Former Kansas City Royals second baseman Frank White is featured next to former University of Missouri and NBA shooting guard Anthony Peeler. Old jerseys representing each Interscholastic League School are framed and inspirational messages filter throughout the gymnasium.
Donovan Templeton, a 2010 graduate of Northeast High School, is one of the program’s success stories.
An original member of the district wide training program, Templeton is now a running back for Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and is spending his summer back at Manual working with district athletes perusing similar goals.
“I’m hoping to teach them how to work hard and that it takes more than being on a team,” Templeton said. “You have to do extra things on your own during your time in order to accomplish your goals.”
Templeton would wake up at 6:00 AM, eat breakfast and walk three miles to get to Long’s workout last summer. He credits the program, along with Anders, in helping him continue his academic and athletic career beyond high school.
“Kimble is making a big difference around here,” said Templeton. “It’s good to have someone well known in the area that can lead by example and help bring in donations and support to further this building. He’s been great for all the athletes, not just football players.”
Templeton isn’t alone in his admiration for Anders.
The list of alums is growing as fast Anders’ once far-fetched vision for the building.