"Come on, Josh! Come on baby!" a voice shouted from the sideline.
Out came another three reps. With a final push, the captain was finished with his set.
Twenty-five reps of 225 pounds. Solid.
(Check out video of Gaines benching: )
Satisfied and shirt-drenched, Gaines reached for a grape Gatorade, his reward for expelling all he had to lift the bar.
Thousand of reps and hundreds of empty Gatorade bottles later, the sixth annual Lift For Life Challenge came to a close. As Gaines and his teammates completed the 11 different exercises and headed to the sideline, knees buckling with fatigue, it was clear the players had given everything they had for the fans, for their teammates and for the cause.
Lift For Life, which is staged by the Penn State football team's chapter of Uplifting Athletes, raises money for the fight against kidney cancer. This year, the organization topped the $300,000 mark in money raised all-time for the cause.
"This was great for the competition," senior lineman A.Q. Shipley said. "Anytime you can get good competition it's great for you."
Gaines and Shipley comprised half of the team which called themselves, "Can I get an Encore," alluding to their title the year before. In all, 24 teams took part in Lift For Life, keeping fans and spectators' undivided attention, but more importantly, helping a terrific cause.
For the fans, the goal of Lift For Life was simple: come watch their favorite Penn State players, try to get an autograph or two, and acclimate themselves into another football season in Happy Valley.
For the players themselves, the challenge was just that — challenging. Nearly a dozen events, each testing the strength and endurance of the athletes, created a virtual "workout from hell.
Events like tire flipping, leg pressing and endurance jumping left the players exhausted, with jaws dropped open for air, and T-shirts being used as sweat towels.
By the time each team made it to the final event, the giant tire flip, it was all mental. Continuous shouts of encouragement from players were drowned out by the groans and grunts of the athlete competing.
In the end, a team named A Million Here, A Million There won the crown. It was made up of quarterback Daryll Clark, tight ends Mickey Shuler and Greg Miskinis, and linebacker Josh Hull. Shipley's crew finished second, and Up And Coming (receiver Jesse Alfreno, running back Brandon Beachum, tight end Andrew Szczerba and linebacker Nate Stupar) were in third before the final criteria (money raised) came into play.
When the extra criteria figured in, The Real Deihl (receiver Brett Brackett, offensive linemen Mike Lucian and Rich Ohrnberger, and safety Mark Rubin) finished tied for third. Brackett is the president of PSU Uplifting Athletes.
Scattered along the outskirts of the lifting areas were even more shouts from admiring fans, proud family members and assorted alumni who returned to catch a glimpse of their former proteges.
It was a day of sacrifice and a day of fighting adversities, similar to the sacrifices and adversities those with cancer face every day but nearly to the same scope.
And though the players realize the pain they experienced Friday was simply a microcosm of the pain those with kidney cancer can face for many years, it was a humbling experience for them.
With fatigued expressions on their faces, and similar mannerisms as the players finished up their workouts, it was clear Lift For Life had a bigger purpose behind it, one all of the players embraced and reflected in their exercises.
"We're all out here for one goal and one cause," Clark said. "As you can see, there's a lot of people here and more than last year. It's a real successful thing for the team."