Tobin breaks school weightlifting records

Mandela Tobin (12) adjusted his hands on the metal bar and lowered all 380 lbs of the barbell down to his chest and pushed it back up again. It was a motion he’d done hundreds of times, but this was the moment that mattered. In just 20 seconds, Tobin had broken the school bench press record of 15 years, Aug 31. Two days later, Tobin also broke the school’s power clean record by lifting 265 lbs, 15 lbs more than the previous record holder.  

“Afterwards, I felt amazing because I cemented my name into the school’s history,” he said. “I’m actually planning to beat both of my records again.”  

It’s this type of determination that has pushed Tobin to continue to dedicate his time to training even throughout quarantine. For the past seven months, he has been weightlifting, bettering his agility and improving in his position as a defensive lineman for the winter. Working out has been a challenge as COVID-19 restrictions have limited access to gyms and training centers, so Tobin had to get creative.  

“At first I was pushing cars (in neutral), and making use of the dumbells I had,” he said. “But as time progressed, my workouts went slowly back to normal [gym workouts].”  

Some of Tobin’s friends allowed him to use their home gyms and the Westview weight room opened up in August for the football team to use.  

Besides using weightlifting to train for his final high school seasons, he has been training for college recruitment as well.  Recently, Tobin announced his top five schools who have offered him scholarships.  

“Recruiting has been a unique experience because of everything being online,” he said. “But the only big thing that’s unavailable because of COVID-19 are the [school] visits.”  

Tobin said this is a major problem in narrowing down which school would be a good fit for him.  

“It’s really hard to feel if a school is like home when you can’t be there in person,” he said.  

Tobin sets school power clean record, Sept. 2.

A way that Tobin decided to choose from the offers he received was to see how much effort a school put into recruiting him, how much of a priority he was to them. He said his top choices have all put in the most effort into getting him on their team, but he still has to weigh what the schools can offer him academically. 

Despite many of these challenges, which have halted the progress of many athletes all over the country, Tobin continues to have an optimistic outlook.  

“It’s easy to stay positive because I know that I’ve been training way too hard to not be dominant,” he said. “The season being pushed back is just more time for me to train even harder.” 

In fact, Tobin said that the quarantine has taught him some important lessons about perseverance and that he’s become a better person and athlete because of it.  

“It’s made me think and adapt to other things much easier,” he said. “And it has definitely made me much [smarter] with situations like these.”  

With a competitive spirit and a hard working, positive outlook, he has been able to better himself despite the circumstances and keep pushing towards his goals.  

“I think this upcoming season is when I’m going to show what I’ve been training so hard for,” Tobin said. “I’m always striving to be the best—second to none.”