The Power of Iron Dread

The Power of Iron Dread

The arrival of Coach Jacobs and Coach Whittaker breathes new life into Dexter athletics

By Jimmy Fortuna-Peak


The beginning of the new football season brought two new faces to DHS, Head Coach Phil Jacobs and assistant coach Chris Whittaker, who took roles as coaches and DHS faculty members. Their initial goal was to rebuild the football program by getting the players in shape and making them physically stronger. Now, they’re expanding this weight room mentality to the rest of Dexter athletics.

While Jacobs and Whittaker are both primarily football coaches, their goal is to create better athletes throughout the school with the Iron Dread program. The four main factors are strength, speed, size, and weight. Both coaches noticed an overall lack in strength when they first arrived at the school.

“I have been a member in the SEC conference for 20-plus years,” Jacobs said. “Dexter has always had talent, but not in the department of strength.”

Since the program’s implementation, a growing amount of excitement has occurred around the school. Students are enjoying the intensity that Iron Dread brings, and already see results.


Coach Chris Whittaker explains what the next set of lifts will be to the Dexter athletes. Photo Credit: Jimmy Fortuna-Peak

“I feel like it’s been helping me get stronger,” senior baseball player Andrew Spicer said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Each week, Whittaker posts lifting times for each team on social media. In-season teams have separate lifting times, while offseason teams lift together. There’s no need to sign up for each lifting session—just come and be prepared to work, coaches said.

Athletes who are enrolled in the Strength and Conditioning for Performance class do activities every day during school and have been told there is no need to attend lifting sessions; therefore, both coaches highly encourage students to take the class.

While Iron Dread is off to a good start, there are still some obstacles to overcome. Many athletes have either minimal or no experience in the weight room, so time is needed to teach the proper lifting techniques and form to ensure that everyone is safe.


Junior Vinny D’Oria performs a shoulder press during an Iron Dread workout on Tuesday, December 19 Photo Credit: Jimmy Fortuna-Peak

Since the program began, students feel no matter their experience level, they are getting the proper coaching to become athletes in the weight room.

“I like [the coaches] a lot,” senior dancer Madi Hofe said. “I think they are encouraging and understanding of all different skill levels.”

Both coaches agree more people need to attend daily for the program to work properly.

“We need to get numbers consistent,”  Whittaker said. “That is the only way this is going to work and make it enjoyable in the long run.”

The coaches not only want to make athletes stronger, but also make the process enjoyable. Whittaker created the Iron Dread Podcast in order to help spread word about the program. In the future, Whittaker wishes to have guest speakers appear on the podcast, as well as start an “Athletes of the Week” ceremony with a championship belt.


Freshman Devyn O’Clair performs a deadlift while freshman Joey D’Oria spots him.

While Iron Dread is still in its early stages, Jacobs and Whittaker have long-term goals in mind. Eventually, they want every athlete to take part in the program. Furthermore, they want middle school athletes to start lifting to create good technique and form at an early age.

“Dexter High School is known for its academics,” Whittaker said. “Now, we want to make this high school be put on the map for athletics as well.”

While conference titles are the ultimate goal, Jacobs and Whittaker want to make a program that not only helps the team as a whole but each individual after their high school experience.

“We want to instill the values of the weight room and lifting technique,” Jacobs said. “Each athlete can take with them these skills for the rest of their life.”

The coaches encourage anyone interested to just come and witness the first-hand power of Iron Dread.

“It is a fun and enjoyable experience unlike any other,” Whittaker said. “Just come in, try it out, and see what we’re about.”