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No wonder Wayne Didier is a beast in the weight room, poised to break every lifting record at Vernon Hills High School.
Working out is, well, working. And he's used to working.
Didier grew up getting his hands dirty. And smelly.
Cleaning pig pens will do that to you.
Didier's family owns iconic Didier Farms in Prairie View off of Aptakisic and Buffalo Grove Roads.
With its fresh farmstand that boasts some of the best corn around, its greenhouse full of flowers and its popular Octoberfest festival each year, the farm is a local gem. Has been since 1912 when Didier's grandfather's family bought the land.
Didier, a three-year starter on the offensive and defensive line for the Cougars, has been pulling his weight on the farm since the age of 4.
"The first time I was supposed to clean the pig pens I was like 8 or 9 years old and I hid in the barn for two hours because I thought it was so gross," Didier said with a laugh. "But it's not too bad when you get used to it."
Didier got used to cleaning the pig pens, all right. To this day, it's remained one of his primary responsibilities.
"It's got to be done," Didier said. "My parents help run the farm and you can see how busy they are. They need the help and all of us kids (Didier has four siblings) do work at the farm.
"A lot of my friends are shocked by it. We're here (in the heart of the suburbs) and they're off working jobs at the mall at Abercrombie and I'm out working in the fields and cleaning the pig pens."
It's the kind of work that builds character, and apparently football players.
The 6-foot, 230-pound Didier follows his older brother David, who was a standout football player at Vernon Hills a few years ago and held most of the weight room records he is now breaking. Next is younger brother Steven who is a lineman on the freshman team.
Didier says that his friends joke that he and his brothers are "farm strong." But it's no joke.
The muscles and work habits that Didier has gained on his family's fields have also come in handy on the football field.
"I'm not the biggest guy or the tallest guy, but I've gotten strong because I spend a lot of time in the weight room and I've done a lot of hard work on the farm," Didier said. "I don't think my work ethic would be the same had I not grown up on the farm. You learn at an early age on the farm what hard work is all about and how it can get you anywhere."
It certainly has taken Didier places.
He's started both ways for the Cougars since his sophomore year. He earned all-conference honors last year as a junior and for the last three years, he's been a leader of one of the most consistently successful programs in Lake County.
Last year, with Didier paving the way, the offense rolled up all kinds of yardage and points. Meanwhile, the defense rang up seven straight shutouts to start the season.
"We've had some great position players over the years, but it all really starts up front and Wayne has played a big part in that," Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken said. "He's one of our hardest workers, and one of our strongest kids. He puts in the time, makes the sacrifices and I think there's a huge connection for him (between the farm and football).
"When you're raised in an environment where there is a lot of work and then you get to high school where you've got to put your time in the weight room to get stronger, there's that understanding about work ethic."
Didier has broken two of his older brother's weight room records: the bench and the squat. His new marks are 350 pounds and 475 pounds, respectively.
"Everything I've ever done in high school is to beat my brother," Didier said. "We're very close, but we're very competitive. I've tried to beat him in the weight room. I've tried to get all-conference before he did in his career.
"He's a huge role model to me and he's a big reason I push myself so hard."
Now Didier is pushing hard for a chance to play football in college, and he's already heard from some coaches. He'd like to study exercise science with the hope of being the strength and conditioning coach for a college or professional sports team.
He's not particularly interested in going into the family business.
"Not really," Didier said. "My dad tells us to just go into whatever we want to do. He says that if the farm lasts or if it doesn't last, it's shouldn't have to depend on us."
But if it ever does someday, Didier wouldn't mind if he was called on to pull some of his weight. Again.
"I love the farm and I would want to help," Didier said. "It's been a great place to grow up."