USA Weightlifting’s New Athlete Development Sites

On October 16, 2017, USA Weightlifting (USAW) announced 13 Athlete Development Sites located in the West and Southeast United States.  The announcement of these sites raised a number of questions:

  • What will the sites be used for?
  • Who can attend events at the sites?
  • What kinds of events will be hosted at the sites?
  • How much will the events cost?

I spoke to Suzy Sanchez, USAW Director of Development Programs, and gathered information about this new opportunity.

Q: Why did USAW create the Athlete Development Sites?

In April 2017, USAW created Athlete Development Camps.  We executed a three-month trial run in the West and Southeast.  After running the camps, however, we realized that we needed to restructure.  The purpose of the camps was to attract new athletes, not to educate existing athletes.  In fact, however, many of the athletes who signed up for the camps were seasoned athletes.  There was some dissatisfaction from these athletes who felt that they did not learn much from the camps.

From this experience, we gathered that our members are seeking opportunities for continuing education.  We created the Athlete Development Sites to replace the development camps and to offer continuing education opportunities for our members.

Q: Why did you select these particular sites?

The two largest pockets of weightlifting in the United States are in the West and Southeast.  We wanted to create sites in areas where we could serve the most members.  We also selected gyms that are run by coaches who are certified at the national level or higher.  We are constantly working to foster good relationships between gym owners and USA Weightlifing and feel that this program will facilitate that.  We also hope that the sites will link up talented athletes and talented coaches, creating more opportunities within the sport.

Q: What will the Athlete Development Sites offer?

The Athlete Development Sites will host five different types of clinics: Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Advanced Movement, Youth Weightlifting, and Introduction to Weightlifting.

Two of the clinics—Youth Weightlifting and Introduction to Weightlifting—will offer introductory instruction to beginners.

Three of the clinics—Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Advanced Movement—will offer continuing education to seasoned athletes and coaches.

Q: What is the cost of attending a clinic?

We will be charging $99 for each clinic.  We hope the fee for the clinic, along with multiple site locations, will keep costs manageable for athletes and coaches.

Q: How can people register for a course?

Registration will take place through WebPoint on the USAW website.

USAW will issue an official press release with more details in November.  For further questions, contact Suzy Sanchez at  

Photos courtesy of Lifting.Life and USAW website.





7 Solutions for Youth Weightlifting Programs

All weightlifting programs face certain challenges, such as making enough money to keep the gym open, attracting new members, and raising funds to travel to competitions.

Youth weightlifting programs, however, face special challenges.  For instance, most youth weightlifters don’t have their own money or transportation.  Many youth lifters do not practice good nutrition and some do not have parental support.  And then, there is homework—that daily chore loathed by parents and children alike.

Coastal Empire was recently selected as a USAW Athlete Development Training Site.

I spoke recently to Kerri Goodrich, head coach of Coastal Empire Weightlifting in Savannah, Georgia. Kerri was a collegiate weightlifter and former national team member.  She is now a USA Weightlifting Instructor and International Coach with a very successful youth weightlifting program.

Coach Goodrich faces the same challenges as other youth weightlifting coaches and has found some creative solutions:

Finding Athletes.  Most of Goodrich’s athletes come from the Performance Initiatives youth program.  Performance Initiatives (PI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to uplifting youth through education and fitness.  PI offers an after school program for children, which includes bussing from the school to the center, homework tutors, and even free dinner through a food bank.  After kids have completed their homework, they may participate in athletics, including weightlifting training.  Most of Goodrich’s Coastal Empire athletes came through this program.

If you are interested in growing your youth program, consider partnering with a community program that offers after-school services to youth.  Community programs can help solve problems such as transportation, nutrition, and even tutoring.

Tackling Homework.  Before the lifters at Performance Initiatives can lift, they must finish their homework.  Goodrich adamantly states, “Homework comes first.”  Fortunately for Goodrich’s lifters, PI offers homework tutors to the children who come to the center.  In addition, Goodrich encourages her older athletes to help the younger kids with their homework.

Encourage your older athletes to mentor younger athletes—both with in athletic training and in school work.

Kerri’s lifters include 62-kg lifter, Carlos Millen (right), who will be representing the United States at the Youth Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia.


Providing Athlete Support.  Not all of Goodrich’s lifters have involved parents.  Goodrich ensures that her kids have plenty of support at competitions, however, by inviting parents, teachers, friends, and even church leaders to attend.  Goodrich explains, “Our competitions are always packed because people in the community—friends, teachers, and even pastors—come out to cheer them on.”

Announce competitions within the community and try to get involvement from as many people in your athletes’ lives as possible.

Raising Money.  When it comes to raising money, again Goodrich gets the whole community involved.  She seeks donations from local businesses and charitable organizations, such as the United Way, the Kiwanis Club, and churches.  Goodrich uses this money to fund her program and take kids to competitions.

Ask local businesses to sponsor your youth weightlifting team.  If your team is a nonprofit organization, seek funding from charitable sources.

Broadening Horizons.  Goodrich uses competitions in other cities as opportunities to expose her lifters to new culture and opportunities.  Before traveling, Goodrich researches the universities and places of historical interest in each city.  She takes her lifters to visit a university and multiple historical sites in each competition city.  Goodrich wants her athletes to know that college is within reach and the world is a wonderful place to explore.

Use out-of-town competitions as opportunities to explore new areas of the world.  Prior to arriving, research places of interest—such as universities and museums—and visit these places with your team.

Promoting Good Citizenship.  Even more than creating good weightlifters, Goodrich wants to create good people.  She requires her lifters to participate in volunteer work and community outreach efforts.  For instance, her lifters do weightlifting demonstrations and recently participated in a buddy walk.

Provide opportunities for your youth lifters to volunteer and give back to the community.  It will make them better people.

Collaborating with Other Coaches.  Goodrich hates to see coaches degrading one another.  She points out that different things work for different people and that we can all learn from one another.  Says Goodrich, “Coaches would be more successful if they collaborated with each other in growing the sport rather than putting each other down.”

Don’t assume that your way is the best way.  Always seek to learn from other coaches.


Antwan Kilbert – October 2017 Featured Athlete

It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to our featured athlete for the month of October: Antwan Kilbert.  Antwan is an amazing athlete and inspiration to young weightlifters in the US and abroad.  His character, as well as his strength, is admirable (and something worth paying attention to!).

When did you get started in this sport?

I started when was only 11 years old.

What (or who) got you started?

I saw my brother doing it and I tried it.What do you enjoy most about weightlifting? I like lifting the big weights.  Also, I like when you have to yell to get out of a squat, and everyone else screams with you.

What does your current training routine look like ?

I train from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. four days a week, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?

I stretch a lot, and I make sure I drink a lot of water when working out.  Plus, I’ve recently been working on having a better state of mind when I’m training.

What is your diet like?

When I don’t have a meet coming up, I like eating Pizza rolls, honey buns and pop tarts.  But when a meet is coming up, I try to stick to meats and vegetables and fruit.  I cut out almost everything to drink but water.

Who do you look up to in the sport?

My coach, Jimmy Duke, and the Barnes brothers.


My Coach has always been there for me, and Darren and Darrel Barnes have great examples and have inspired me

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

I met my best friend and training partner, Jerome Smith, and Emma Nye (a friend from Kansas City).  There are a lot of people I like to catch up with at meets–athletes I have traveled with to the OTC and International meets.

Are you coachable?

Yes, for the most part I am.  I get a little mad sometimes.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Patience, good advice, and having years of experience in the sport.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Over the last year, I have really been struggling with my jerks.  One Thursday before a Saturday meet, my coach had me work with another coach in the room.  He told me to keep my feet in “two lines”.  My coach had been telling me I was lining up my feet . . . same thing, just different words, but I had a 7kg Clean & Jerk PR because of it.  Also, I have recently been trying to take more time setting up, and that has really been helping.

What characteristics do you strive for (on and off the platform)?

Discipline, respect, and consistency.

If you gave everything that you owned away except three things, what would you keep?

My shoes, my house and my bed.

When you have random free time, how do you spend it?

I play basketball.

If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

Kick boxing.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?


The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?

The last time I was really discouraged, I was at a meet.  I really messed up on my snatches.  I was upset and didn’t even want to clean and jerk at all.  My coach talked me out of it and got me thinking positive again.  I came back and did well in the clean jerk, and even made a 7kg Clean and Jerk PR!

What is the question no one has ever asked you that you’ve always wanted to answer?

How do you do it every day?  Could another person go a day in your shoes?

What are you most grateful for?

My mom and Jerome and Jimmy for being by my side the whole time.

Where does your strength come from?

Squats, a lot of squats!

What is your goal in weightlifting?

To make to the Olympics one day, but I want to go to the Youth Olympics First!