Monsters of the Breezeway

%28From+Left+to+Right%29++Anthony+Napolitano%2C+Davis+Diley%2C+Shamir+St.+Prix+and+Matt+Vaccarella+make+up+Team+Swole.+Combined%2C+they+take+in+nearly+900+grams+of+protein+per+day%2C+which+is+the+equivalent+of+over++21+6-ounce+steaks.+Photo+by+Charles+Pratt.

(From Left to Right) Anthony Napolitano, Davis Diley, Shamir St. Prix and Matt Vaccarella make up Team Swole. Combined, they take in nearly 900 grams of protein per day, which is the equivalent of over 21 6-ounce steaks. Photo by Charles Pratt.

Ryan Cortes

(From Left to Right) Anthony Napolitano, Davis Diley, Shamir St. Prix and Matt Vaccarella make up Team Swole. Combined, they take in nearly 900 grams of protein per day, which is the equivalent of over 21 6-ounce steaks. Photo by Charles Pratt.

Four FAU students spend hours and hours in the gym. None of them are in athletics, they say they’ve never taken steroids and they’ve all had girlfriends break up with them, frustrated by how consumed they were with the gym.

They live the life of bicep curls and protein shakes. They have more cutoff T-shirts and empty protein containers than they do Dockers and soda cans.

They call themselves “Team Swole.” And they’re all crazy — the good kind, obviously.

Davis Diley, the winner of a weight lifting competition called StrongOwl, has a back so big he crushes chairs when he leans back.

Shamir St. Prix, better known as “Fox,” spends $100 a week on protein.

Anthony Napolitano never uses both hands to carry his groceries — one’s more than enough.

Matt Vaccarella hates trying to check his blood pressure at Publix.  His arm doesn’t even fit in the sleeve.

Together, they lift and dedicate their lives to being bigger, faster, stronger. Almost all of their friends are gym rats.  They don’t have time for much else. How can they, when they have to drink four protein shakes a day?

They also say you don’t have to be an athlete to be the baddest on campus. And they don’t merely dislike that notion — they hate it.

“That’s bullshit,” said St. Prix. “Most of us are bench pressing more than them. There’s athletic muscle and physically sure muscle. We’ve got physically sure muscle. All we do all day is lift.”

The UP talked to each of them to see what it takes to be on Team Swole.


“I lift weights because I want to be America’s strongest man.” Photo by Charles Pratt
Davis Diley, the winner of StrongOwl, goes to the gym four days a week for three hours per day. Photo by Charles Pratt

Davis Diley

20 – Sophomore – Exercise Science
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 232 lbs
Protein intake: 300 grams/day
Caloric intake: 7,000 calories/day
Deadlifts: 600 lbs
Squats: 500 lbs
Bench press: 360 lbs
Bicep size: 18”

FAU’s strongest man wakes up every morning at 6:00 a.m. because he needs to eat — then he goes back to sleep.

“I’ve always got a protein shake by my bed,” he said. “Every two hours I make sure I have some form of protein going into my body.”

Davis Diley isn’t kidding. He consumes 300 grams of protein per day. The ADA recommends you take in one gram of protein per pound of body weight for the average person. Diley also has a pound of chicken, a pound of steak and a pound of pasta. Every day.

It’s part of the reason he won StrongOwl, a weight lifting competition hosted on campus — it separates the big and strong from the weak and meek.

He didn’t have the highest bench press at the competition. That belongs to Anthony Napolitano who benches 470 pounds. He also wasn’t the biggest “looking” guy there. That belongs to Shamir “Fox” St. Prix who has so much definition he’s been jokingly accused by Matt Vaccarella of “filling up his muscles like Spongebob.”

Yet he won anyway, because the competition is geared toward brute strength. It’s not about lifting a barbell vertically using correct technique, it’s about lifting a random boulder that could weigh hundreds of pounds. Diley gets to call himself the Strongest Owl. He attributes the victory to what he calls “static strength” and “functional strength.” The first is the kind of strength you would use to move a standstill object, like a rock. The second is the kind of strength you use for everyday activities.

Gym rats tend to ask Diley’s friend Chad Dolan, “What’s he taking?” They whisper guesses among themselves, watching him lift.

“[Dolan] was telling me at least a few times a week almost every day, people ask him ‘what did Davis get on this summer?,’” Diley said.

It never angered him. He understood.

“I think everybody has thought about it,” Diley said about using steroids. “At the gym here, people talk about it openly, you just hear people talking about who does it and who doesn’t. I’m sure people think that I do, but to my buddies it’s no secret that I don’t.”

“It’s really nice to say I don’t take anything,” he boasted. “Never have.”


“When I get pissed or do something, I get red as a fox . That’s what everybody knows me by.” Photo by Charles Pratt.
Shamir St. Prix spends 15 hours a week in the gym, though he’s better known as Fox. Photo by Charles Pratt.

Shamir St. Prix

22 – Senior – Health Administration
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 180 lbs
Protein intake: 165 grams/day
Caloric intake: 5,000-6,000 calories/day
Deadlifts: 510 lbs
Squat: 485 lbs
Bench press: 405 lbs
Bicep size: 17”

Shamir St. Prix can’t stay away from the gym.

“My schedule is about 15 hours a week in the gym,” he said. “15 fucking hours. That’s a job, bro.”

It’s just another Thursday at FAU’s gym, and as usual, St. Prix is there.

“Fox,” as he’s more commonly known, asked me to come help him workout his abs in the middle of the gym. He lies down and gets ready to do situps. Then he stops.

“Go grab me that 10 pound ball,” he says.

I’m not really sure why he wants it, but I oblige. Then he starts doing situps and asks me toslam the ball into his stomach after each one.

“Harder!” he screams after each one.

Finally, he’s done. “That’s how you get abs, bro,” he says before walking away, his cutoff T-shirt showing off his hard work.

“That’s all I have is cutoff shirts,” St. Prix said. “I’m going to stop wearing them, though, because the girls keep distracting me. They can see everything when I wear them.”

A few weeks ago he went to the doctor for a check-up. The nurse went to check his blood pressure, but she couldn’t.

“She put two on me and it still couldn’t fit on my bicep,” he said. “She was like ‘oh my god.’”

It’s the kind of problem he runs into frequently. He’s had to raise his steering wheel as high as it can go because his legs don’t fit otherwise. He also shops for new clothes frequently because he’s constantly outgrowing them.

“It happens to me all the time,” St. Prix said. “That’s what happens when you’re growing. I’ve got to buy new clothes every two months.”


“Everybody looks up to me. ... I’m like the official motivator of the gym.” Photo by Charles Pratt.
The loudest of the four members, Vaccarella, once mocked a gym-goer, according to Ed Haney, 23, exercise science major, who couldn’t put his weights back on the rack. “ ‘I’ll show you how to do it, kid.’ Bam and he just put them back.” Photo by Charles Pratt.

Matt Vaccarella

22 – Senior – Biology
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 164 lbs
Protein intake: 200 grams/day
Caloric intake: 3,000 calories/day
Deadlifts: 225 lbs
Squats: 365 lbs
Bench press: 265 lbs
Bicep size: 14.5”

Of the four Team Swole members, Matt Vaccarella is the shortest, weighs the least, bench presses the least and has the smallest biceps.

And he’s the most confident of the bunch.

“Everybody looks up to me,” he said smiling. “I’m like the official motivator of the gym. That’s why everyone knows me.”

Whenever Vaccarella is in the gym, he’s yelling or motivating someone … unless he wants a machine that someone else is using.

“Most of the time I let them do it the wrong way so they get hurt and they move away from the machine, so I can use it,” he said. “But sometimes, if it’s a cute girl, I’ll spot her and show her the right way and then out of nowhere, the next thing she tells me, she’s got a boyfriend when I didn’t even ask her that shit. I’m just trying to workout.”

He once even created a Jersey Shore audition tape. He showed how he admires himself in the mirror each morning before going to the gym.

“I watch it now and I think I want to punch that kid because he’s so cocky,” he said.

When he’s working out, he can sometimes get a little Jersey Shore-esque, especially when someone wants his weights.

“It’s always annoying and someone walks over and they’re like ‘are you using that?’” Vaccarella said. “And I’m like, are you serious? I just want to slap them.”

He calls himself DJ Nuggets, because he has a little muscle in his shoulder that “looks like a nugget.” St. Prix refers to him instead as DJ Shrimp, mocking his size.

Yet, to Vaccarella, he is the strongest … if he’s at the gym at the right time.

“My favorite part of the day is going to the gym and getting pumped up. And if I get there early enough, I’m the strongest kid in the gym cause not everyone is there yet!”


“Just ‘cause you can’t get to where I’m at doesn’t mean I cheated to get there.” Photo by Charles Pratt.
A former football player, Anthony Napolitano saw his biggest strength gains when he quit football and used his own workout schedule, becoming more of a bodybuilder than an athlete. Photo by Charles Pratt.

Anthony Napolitano

22 – Senior – Criminal Justice
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 215 lbs
Protein intake: 200 grams/day
Caloric intake: 4,000 calories/day Deadlifts: 600 lbs
Squat: 600 lbs
Bench press: 470 lbs
Bicep size: 17.25”

Anthony Napolitano spends a great deal of time around big, strong people. He comes to the gym five days a week. He used to play football. His dad was a professional bodybuilder. And yet, he’s never met anyone his age who can bench press as much as his 470 pounds.

When he was in high school, Napolitano broke the school record for deadlifts — 585 pounds.

That’s also when the rumors started.

“I was in 10th grade and I [bench pressed] 225 for four reps,” Napolitano said. “And the next day I came in and I got 250 and that’s when it started.”  Unlike the others, he takes offense to people saying he’s on steroids.

“I feel like, you can’t get on my level, so you have to say I cheated,” he said. “Just ‘cause you can’t get to where I’m at doesn’t mean I cheated to get there.”

Napolitano started doing his own workouts in high school, when the football team regiment just wasn’t enough. He wanted to sculpt himself into a bodybuilder rather than an athlete.

“When I switched that up, that’s when I really started seeing strength and size gains,” Napolitano said. “I like shorter, more intense workouts. Just boom. Hit it, hit it, hit it. Your body’s ready to explode when you do it that way.”

The new workout regiment helped Napolitano bench press 225 pounds 38 times in a row. Every year before the NFL draft, all the players are asked to do certain workouts like 40 yard sprints and vertical jumps. They’re also asked to bench press 225 pounds to see how many times they can do it. Last year, only two players in the entire pool bench pressed that weight 38 times or more.

“I don’t need to say anything, people say it for me,” Napolitano said about his track record. “I’ll walk in and they’re like ‘there’s that kid.’”

That “kid” believes he’s the strongest kid at FAU, despite finishing second in StrongOwl to Diley.

“Weights-wise? It’s me. There’s no doubt.”

 

To learn more about StrongOwl, visit the Henderson Fields on campus every Saturday from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., when strongman practice is held.