Lift like a girl

Guest Column

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The sport of weightlifting is a lesser-known sport some people don’t know even exists. In the state of Florida, it’s a high school sport, boys and girls having separate seasons. Weightlifting which is used almost as a training slot until other team sports begin, is a place where you can compete if you aren’t involved in team sports.

Weightlifting has always been a kind of “land of misfit toys,” in that both the sport lacks popularity, and the type of individual that competes within. In this dynamic lies the beauty of the sport. It gives youth who may not be the most athletic, introverted, and those who were cut from other sports a place to compete and succeed. Don’t get me wrong, weightlifting is hard. The training when done right, can be grueling at times and the instant gratification you might get from making a basket, kicking a goal, or scoring a touchdown is replaced by weeks of training in hopes of making a lift that takes 3 seconds to complete.

Now looking at the boys and girls competing you may notice some differences, and this is where most girl programs get the short end of the stick. Most coaches for the sport are either football coaches getting another coaching check, or short time coaches from other sports who fill in because they can’t find a dedicated coach for weightlifting. In many schools, the girls are last in line to use the weight room and are often pushed out if any other sport wants to use it. Many times, the girls are wearing mismatched old boys wrestling singlets. So why is this happening?

In short, it’s the continuance of the fight women’s sports have had to make. In an era where women’s sports are coming under attack and gender issues are the topic of the day, most women’s weightlifting programs are struggling to get quality gear and buses to take teams to meets. Weightlifting was first made an Olympic sport at the 1896 Athens games but women weren’t allowed to compete on the Olympic stage in weightlifting till the 2000 Sydney games.

Now, not all programs are like this, but many of the girls’ programs are. For instance, coach Rodney Keller of Clay High has a wonderful girls’ program. We have worked together many times, and his is the only local girls weightlifting team to run and foster a year-long training program. It comes as no surprise this program is producing lifters who win more, are safer lifters, and have a better chance at scholarships.

Although scholarships can be obtained for weightlifting in college, other sports scout weightlifting meets for athletes. Crew is one such sport. They recruit girls both tall and short, with strong legs and longer arms, so they can produce power in the boat. They also know, that a girl who competes in a dedicated weightlifting or CrossFit program can persevere and usually have more grit than some other athletes.

This sport gives boys and girls who don’t fit the mold of traditional team sports a place to go. A place where you can be overweight and still be a champion. I urge parents and members of the community to support weightlifting programs and the sport. Get involved with the gyms and schools who support these events, and children. Girls weightlifting should be a shining star for Florida Youth Athletics, and it is to those involved. However, the battle is far from over.

William Davis has been in the fitness industry for 10 years and he’s run Steel Mill Fleming Island for seven years. He’s also a USA weightlifting sport performance and USA powerlifting club coach, a CrossFit Level 2 trainer, PN nutrition coach, CrossFit powerlifting trainer, aerobic capacity trainer, movement and mobility trainer and rowing trainer.

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