Feature Athlete: Caden Cahoy

Caden Cahoy is our latest featured athlete!  Caden is a 14-year old weightlifter from Jacksonville, Florida who currently competes in the 49-kg weight class.   Caden won the championship title in the 44-kg weight class (14-15 age group) at USA Weightlifting’s 2018 Youth Nationals in Grand Rapids, Michigan in June 2018 and was recently invited to represent the United States at the Youth World Championships in March 2019.

When did you get started in this sport?

started CrossFit at age 8 and weightlifting at age 9.

What (or who) got you started?

My dad got me started because I saw him working out, and I wanted to try it.  So, I started doing CrossFit with him.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I enjoy how it makes me feel strong and healthy, but I also love competing and having fun.

 

What does your current training routine look like?

Mondays I work out at 6:00-7:30 AM, Wednesdays at 6:00-7:30 AM, Fridays at 5:00-7:30 PM, and Saturdays at 7:00-9:00 AM.

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

Squats have been impactful in my training.

What are your proudest weightlifting achievements?

My proudest achievements are winning first at nationals 3 times and going 5 times.

What is your diet like?

I eat pretty well but once in a while I eat like a kid.

Who do you look up to in the sport? Why?

I look up to Tian Tao because he has very good technique and is very strong. He also puts in very hard work.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

I have made a lot of friends from national events and hope to keep making more.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Great coaches possess patience, teaching their kids to focus on technique first, and know how to put together good programming.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have ever received was to trust the programming and give all your effort because it does not happen over night.

What characteristics do you strive for?

I strive to be a good role model and want kids to look up to me.

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

like spending time with friends playing sports like football and basketball, and I like playing PS4.

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

I would master football because it is my second favorite sport to play.

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

I have learned to calm down and be patient.

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

I just focused on improving what I could and taking care of my body until it was all healed up.

Where does your strength come from?

My strength comes from me wanting to be the best in the world and competing against people like Hutch Friend and Hampton Morris.

What are your weightlifting goals?

My goals are to make the USA weightlifting team and win the youth Olympics or the Olympics.

 

Feature Athlete: Seth Tom

Seth Tom is our latest featured athlete!  Seth is a 16-year old weightlifter from San Francisco, California who currently competes in the 55 and 61 kg weight classes.   Seth won the championship title in the 56-kg weight class (16-17 age group) at USA Weightlifting’s 2018 Youth Nationals in Grand Rapids, Michigan in June 2018.

When did you get started in this sport?

I started lifting 8 years ago (2010) when I was 8 years old.

What (or who) got you started?

My sister attended Abraham Lincoln High School where my coach was a teacher. My coach, Kevin Doherty, ran a strength and conditioning camp with Olympic weightlifting. Kevin and other coaches brought me and my siblings into the weightroom and taught us.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

One thing I enjoy about this sport is the community. I enjoy being around people of all ages and becoming real close friends. I also enjoy the feeling. It’s one of the best feelings to finish your last lift in a competition, whether it’s a miss or make.

What does your current training routine look like?

I train at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California. I train about 2 hours a day 5 times a week with many people of all ages. From kids in elementary school to people as young as 70 years old.

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

One thing is technique work. My dad told me, “They may be bigger than you but you have better technique. People with good technique will always win.”

Another thing is lots of strength work. For example squats or accessories.

What are your proudest weightlifting achievements?

My proudest achievements were being able to compete at the 2017 Youth World Championships on my birthday, winning my first National Championship and breaking a few American Records.

What is your diet like?

Eat as much as I can but not too much junk food.

Who do you look up to in the sport? Why?

I look up to my friends both on my team and others that are not. Seeing them progress throughout the sport always motivates me to do better.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

It has brought friendships of all kinds. It’s brought me friendships with younger people, older people, the same age as me and people all over the country.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Coaches can have many great qualities but one I like is being friendly. I like my coaches because they are my friends and know me well.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t think.

What characteristics do you strive for?

I strive to be confident and humble.

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

I enjoy playing basketball, eating, playing video games or sleeping.  

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

Karate

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

Weightlifting has taught me how to be passionate and to work as hard as I can.

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

I learned from my mistakes and kept moving forward.

Where does your strength come from?

My strengths come from my teammates because they keep me motivated.

What are your weightlifting goals?

I want to be the best I can be and especially be happy.

 

Feature Athlete: Destiny Snider

Destiny Snider is our latest featured athlete!  Destiny is a 14-year old weightlifter from St. Louis, Missouri who currently competes in the 44 kg weight class.   Destiny won the championship title in the 44-kg weight class (14-15 age group) at USA Weightlifting’s 2018 Youth Nationals in Grand Rapids, Michigan in June 2018.

When did you get started in this sport? Who got you started?

I got started in weightlifting at Lift for Life Gym.  Coach Jimmy saw me playing basketball one day and asked me if I wanted to start weightlifting.  I worked out with him a couple times, and I fell in love with it!

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

Weightlifting is great because you can test how strong you are everyday.  I also have met so many great people through weightlifting.  Most of my best friends are weightlifters.  My sister (NeNe) is on the team as well.  I know people from all over the country because of weightlifting.  I have meet many of the clients at the Lab Gym, where we train.  There are tons of people there that congratulate me on my accomplishments while I’m walking though the gym.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week, where you train, who you train with)?

I train at the Lab Gym 2 hours a day, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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

We have always pushed squats really hard, but recently, we added dead lifts.  That has really helped.  Also, before the Junior Nationals, I was only training one hour on Tuesday and Thursday.  Since I qualified as an alternate to the Youth Pan Ams, Jimmy told me it was time to get more training in per week.  So we added two hours during the week.

What are your proudest weightlifting achievements?

My proudest moment in weightlifting is setting an American Record in the Snatch at Youth Nationals last year.

What is your diet like?

My diet is normal.  I drink a lot more water now.

Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why?

Jerome Smith is a good role model for me.  He is good to talk to, and he is there for me when I need anything or feel down or if I’m having a bad day of training.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

The best quality from a coach is motivation.  When its time to get real, they help me get real!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have ever received is, “Don’t think too hard.”  Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to be successful and I make simple mistakes.

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

When I’m on the platform, I am ready to kick some butt and pass people up to make it to my dream.  Off the platform, I try not to take things too serious, especially if they are not serious things.

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

When I have free time, I like to spend it with my friends, both gaming and at gatherings. I find it very important to maintain a good social life.

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

I love playing basketball at Lift for Life Gym.  If I could master anything else besides weightlifting, it would be basketball.

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

Weightlifting has taught me that things do not always go right in life, but you have to get up and start over.  You don’t always have a team that can help you or someone looking out for you.  Sometimes you got to do it yourself!

What are your weightlifting goals?

My goal is to continue to make International Teams.  I want to stay in the sport and hopefully make the Olympics one day in both Weightlifting and Basketball.

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Carlos Millen – January 2018 Featured Athlete

Carlos Millen Jr., our latest featured athlete.  Carlos is a 17 year old weightlifter from Hardeeville, South Carolina and is currently competing in the 62kg weight class.  Carlos trains at Performance Initiative in Savannah, Georgia with Coach Kerri Goodrich.

When did you get started in this sport?

I started lifting weights about 2 ½  years ago (2015).

What (or who) got you started?

Two friends introduced me to weightlifting and that’s how I started weightlifting.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I enjoy getting stronger, meeting other athletes and competing.

You had an opportunity to represent the U.S. recently at the Youth Pan Ams in Columbia.  What was your favorite part about this experience?

My favorite part of the experience was in Columbia competing against other countries and touring the site.

What advice would you give to other young lifters who want to make an international team?

My advice to those who want make the international team is to give it your all in what ever you do.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week)?

My current training routine is two hours per day, five days a week.

What is your favorite training exercise?

My favorite training exercise is the clean & jerk.

What is your least favorite training exercise?

My least favorite training exercise is the snatch.

What is your diet like?

I don’t have a specific diet, except I drink 100 oz. of water a day.

Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why?

I admire Derrick Johnson because I can relate to his struggle in his personal life and how far he has come.

What friendships has the sport brought your way?

Weightlifting brought me friendship, like the one I have with Oscar Chaplin.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

One of the great qualities that a great coach possesses is leadership.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever received was to “get it before it’s gone”.

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

I have free time on Sunday’s. I go to church and watch Hulu.

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

From weightlifting, I’ve learned to clear my mind.

When was the last time you got discouraged with weightlifting, and how did you recover?

The last time I got discouraged with weightlifting was when I got kicked out the house by my mother a week before competition in Florida, but I recovered by focusing on my goals.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I like to write my own quotes in a book.

What are your goals with weightlifting?

My goals with weightlifting is to win gold at 2018 junior nationals and qualify for junior worlds.

 

Representing in South America

In December 2017, Team USA sent four Under 15 lifters to Lima, Peru to compete in the South American Junior & Youth Championships & Tamas Ajan Cup on December 13-17:

Haley Trinh – 53kg
Abby Raymond – 58kg
Dean Goad – 69kg
Julia Yun – +75kg

All four lifters represented Team USA admirably bringing home multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals and a Best Lifter award.

Dean Goad brought home six medals: 3 Gold for 15 & Under and a Bronze/Silver/Bronze for 17 & Under. Goad also won the Male 15 & Under Best Lifter Award.

I spoke to event coach, Ben Hwa, of Hasslefree Barbell Club, about Team USA’s trip to Lima:

Why did you attend this competition?

There are levels that lifters go through.  When you lift in a gym, it’s one thing.  When you go to an international meet and win a medal, you are motivated to work even harder and you want to experience it again.

When I saw the invitation to this competition, I immediately recognized it as a good opportunity for our kids.  When kids go to these meets, they come back so motivated.  I took two of our 13-year old lifters, Julia and Haley.  I wanted to show them how good they are in this sport to really help them commit.

Lima is located in west central Peru between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains.

Did the competition meet your expectations?

Abby Raymond brought home nine medals: 3 Gold medals for 15 & Under, 3 Gold medals for 17 & Under, and a Bronze/Silver/Bronze for 20 & Under.

My expectations of the competition were low.  I had gone to Columbia a few months before, and I was not expecting much.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Lima was very nice.  It is right by the ocean.  The food was really good.  The people were friendly.  And the meet was well organized for a South American event.

More importantly, though, it was great to see all of the 15 & Under kids–kids who I could see at the next Youth Worlds or Junior Worlds or even the Olympics.  Even in other countries, everyone starts at the same place.

What lessons did you learn from this competition?

Julia Yun competed against the European Under 15 record holder, Irene Blanco of Spain. Yun earned nine medals: 3 Silver medals in 15 & Under, 3 Bronze medals in 17 & Under, and 3 Bronze medals in 30 & Under.

Being in Peru gave me full faith in my reason for coaching.  I like being able to guide kids into a path that is full of success and growth and opportunity.  I saw the Peruvian coaches and the Columbian coaches.  They were all so supportive of the kids.

It also made me want to be a better coach.  My athletes invest their time training with me, and I always want to be there for them.  Sure, these competitions cost money–a lot of money sometimes–but as a coach, you have to be willing to give back to your athletes, even if it means taking time off work and spending money to travel.  As a coach, you can preach all you want, but when it comes down to it, are you willing to sacrifice your money to be there for your athletes?

Why are competitions like this so important for youth weightlifters?

Weightlifting offers travel opportunities like no other sport.  When kids get to see the world, they mature.

They see that the world is bigger than their neighborhood.  They see others who are in true poverty.  It helps them appreciate the things they have.

They understand how lucky they are.  This perspective helps these lifters focus better in practice.

When you give kids opportunities to learn and grow, they become more mature, and their weightlifting comes along with it.

Hayley Trinh brought home 9 medals for Team USA: 3 Silver medals in 15 & Under, 3 Bronze medals in 17 & Under, and 3 Bronze medals in 20 & Under.

Do you want to see more opportunities like this in the future?

Absolutely.  This is how we invest in the future of weightlifting.  Something that we can do as a governing body is invest in trips.  These kids come back different lifters.  The more kids we can give this opportunity, the better.

 

Will Team USA return to this competition in 2018?

According to Phil Andrews, C.E.O. of USA Weightlifting, “We plan to go again this year if we are invited to do so.  I thought it was a great competition, and Ben did really well in his coaching position.”

Photo Credit: Amy Yun

 

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The Mind of an Olympian: An Interview with Hidilyn Diaz

If I had to pick one word to describe three-time Olympian, Hidilyn Diaz, I would choose “gracious.”  Hidilyn is visiting Guam for the week, and she agreed to let me interview her before her weightlifting practice.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think things through very well, and I ended up conducting the interview while sitting on some tires behind the gym.  The music in the gym was very loud, and all of the seats were occupied by active weightlifters, so we headed out the back door.  I scanned the area for a suitable sitting surface and hastily decided that some tires lying on the ground would do just fine.  I sat down, and Hidilyn joined me without hesitation.

Hidilyn’s unassuming attitude became all the more impressive once I learned more about her.

Hidilyn (pronounced Heidi Lynn), age 26, has competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2012 London Olympics, and the 2016 Rio Olympics.  At age 17, Hidilyn was the youngest competitor in the women’s 58-kg weight class at the 2008 Bejing Olympics.  And in 2016, Hidilyn became the first Filipino woman to ever win an Olympic medal when she earned a silver medal in Rio.

Hidilyn Diaz (image from http://www.philstar.com)

Hidilyn began weightlifting at age 11.  Her cousin, a university student, was coaching a group of young boys in weightlifting.  Hidilyn asked to join them, and her cousin began training her.  She began competing soon after and was offered a place on the Philippine national team at age 12. Membership on the national team offered a number of perks.  Hidilyn received a scholarship to attend school.  She was able to travel and see the world when she competed.  Most importantly, though, she was able to help provide for her family with her monthly stipend of 4000 Pesos (about $80).

Hidilyn explained: “My family was poor.  I lifted weights to provide for my family.  I was the breadwinner.”

I asked Hidilyn when she developed a passion for weightlifting.  I was surprised when she said, “2014.”  By 2014, Hidilyn had already been in the sport for 12 years and competed in two Olympic Games!

Hidilyn explained, “2014 was a difficult year for me.  I injured my knee, and recovery was taking a long time.  My performance suffered.  My coach of ten years was fired from the national team, and I felt lost.  I was injured, had no coach, and was beginning to wonder if I should just retire.”

“Mentally, it was very difficult.  I had no one guiding me, and I had to decide for myself if weightlifting was what I wanted to do.”

After taking time to reflect, Hidilyn decided to continue her training and aim for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.  A friend pointed out that Hidilyn could contend for a medal if she dropped into the 53-kg weight class.  Hidilyn made the weight drop, trained hard, and secured a silver medal in Rio becoming the first Filipino in 20 years to win an Olympic medal.

Hidilyn continues to train for four hours a day, while simultaneously attending college to earn a degree in business.  She hopes to make a fourth Olympic appearance at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

In the future, Hidilyn wants to own her own business.  She also wants to raise awareness of weightlifting in the Philippines, serve as a mentor to younger weightlifters, and use her experience to help other coaches develop their weightlifters.  Consider these points of advice from Hidilyn:

To Coaches:

“It is important to spend time on mobility as well as general strength and conditioning.”  Focusing only on weightlifting exercises can lead to injuries, boredom and burnout.

Also, “Always look for ways to innovate.  Constantly seek new ways to challenge your athletes and keep things interesting for them. “

To Youth Weightlifters:

“Enjoy weightlifting first.  Then, dream high.  It is the dream that will fuel you.  You also need to work hard, but be smart.  Sometimes weightlifters work hard, but it is not productive because they are not getting enough rest.  You need to rest.  Take advice from others.  Practice self-discipline and consistency in training.  One of the hardest things about weightlifting training is being consistent.”

Advice on Competing:

“Above all, you must believe in yourself.  When you step onto the platform, if you do not believe that you can lift the weight, it will not happen.”

 

 

Hampton Morris – November 2017 Featured Athlete

Hampton Morris

Meet Hampton Morris — our featured athlete for the month of November.  Hampton is a 13 year old youth weightlifter from Marietta, Georgia and is currently competing in the 50kg weight class.

When did you get started in this sport?

My first meet was on July 9th, 2016.

What (or who) got you started?

My dad.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

Making new lifting friends.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week, where you train, who you train with)?

I usually lift 3-4 days per week, 2-3 days in competition weeks, and I try to mobilize as often as possible.  I usually train in my basement or at Crossfit Dwala.  My dad is my coach.

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

I think one of the most impactful parts of my training is how often I mobilize.

What do you carry around with you in your gym bag that has nothing to do with weightlifting?

I usually have only lifting-related items in my gym bag, but if I know that I will have a lot of time that I won’t be lifting, I may bring a book or some homework.

What is your diet like?

I just eat normal food.

Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why?

I look up to CJ Cummings and Harrison Maurus because of how successful they have been and how early their success began, and it inspires me to believe that I can do just as well as them.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

Some friends that I have that I probably wouldn’t have if I weren’t a weightlifter are Logan Davies and Destiny Karch.

Are you coachable?

Yes

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Understanding how their athlete works, and how to help them work around setbacks.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?  Did you take it?

Ignore the things outside of your control, and focus on the things that are in your control.

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

I always try to stay calm, patient, and I always try to have fun.

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

I would keep my Kindle with all of my favorite books, including A Prayer for Owen Meany, my vintage Adidas lifters, and my Coffee’s Gym T-shirt.

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

If I don’t feel like watching whatever’s on TV, I will probably read a book while listening to music, or play with my sister.

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

I would master soccer.

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

I have learned how to stay calm during difficult situations, and that it’s always important to be patient.

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

I just stopped thinking about it and focused on what I could do to get past it.

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

I don’t know of any.

What are you most grateful for?

My awesome family and my adorable dog, Dexter.

Where does your strength come from?

I challenge myself and get challenged by others to do my best, every day.

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.

Why?

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?

Discipline.

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!

Elle Hatamiya – September 2017 Featured Athlete

Please let us introduce you to our featured athlete for the month of September: Elle Hatamiya.  Besides being an Instagram sensation, Elle is an amazing athlete (in weightlifting as well as dojo and gymnastics).  Elle is currently 12 years old and competes in the 35kg class.

Where is home?

 Albany, California

When did you get started in this sport
I started lifting when I was 10. 
What (or who) got you started?
My mom does CrossFit so then I started doing CrossFit, but I liked the Olympic-style lifts more so I started just training and competing in weightlifting.
What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I like the feeling of doing the lifts.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week, where you train, who you train with)?
I train at my barbell club, Endgame Athletics, twice per week for an hour each time. I have private sessions with my brother, Jude, who trains CrossFit with our coach, Arnold Chua.  I also train with my gymnastics team, Golden Bear Gymnastics Academy, 22 hours per week over 4 days.  And, I  train at my martial arts dojo twice per week for an hour each time. Our style is called Cuong Nhu.
Even though I train 26 hours per week, I still go to regular public school, so everything happens after school and on Saturday.  I have Sundays off, unless I have a competition, because all of my training locations are closed on Sundays.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?
I do a lot of power snatches and power cleans to get stronger and faster. 
What do you carry around with you in your gym bag that has nothing to do with weightlifting?
Nothing
What is your diet like?
I mostly eat food that my mom cooks:  organic as much as possible, grassfed meat, lots of fruit.  I prefer not to eat processed foods.  For breakfast, I typically have an egg, fruit, and milk. I bring lunch to school; mostly leftovers.  After school, on my way to training, I have a good snack that usually includes protein, fruit, and maybe rice.  After training, I eat a home cooked dinner.  If it’s not home cooked, it could be a burrito or sushi–something that’s relatively easy to start eating in the car.
Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why
I look up to Sarah Robles because she medaled in the Olympics. I also look up to C.J. Cummings and Harrison Maurus because they are kids but they are really strong. 
What friendships has this sport brought your way?
I get to meet lots of people at camps and competitions. I also get lots of supporters around the world though my Instagram. 
Are you coachable?
Yes
What qualities do great coaches possess
They are supportive, they believe in you, they push you, and they listen to you. 
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Did you take it?

Do what you love. Yes, I took it.

What characteristics do you strive for (on and off the platform)
Caring, calm, modest, confident. 
If you gave everything that you owned away except three things, what would you keep?
Notebook, pencil, and clothes.
When you have random free time, how do you spend it?
I make slime or origami or I play with my brother, Jude, who is 2 years younger than me. 
If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

 I am also a gymnast, so it would be gymnastics.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?
I have mental toughness and I can perfect my technique.
The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?
At Youth Nationals I missed my first lift, but I didn’t let that discourage me or get to me; I just moved on from it and I made the rest of my lifts. 
What is the question no one has ever asked you that you’ve always wanted to answer?

 I don’t know.

What are you most grateful for?

I am grateful I have a family that supports me, I live in a good place, and I get to do what I love. 

Where does your strength come from?

 I just keep working hard and pushing myself.

Creating Confidence: An Interview with Jenny Schumacher

A large black Labradoodle ambles toward the entrance of Proven Strength and Conditioning, the weightlifting gym co-owned by Jenny Schumacher in American Fork, Utah.  Schumacher calls to her dog, Fonzie, and the dog retreats; the dog’s interest in the newcomer is satisfied with a glance at the familiar face.

Schumacher, who coaches six days a week, smiles and greets the new arrival with, “Hi, I haven’t seen you in a while.  I’m so happy you’re here.”  The cheery greetings continue as other weightlifters make their way into the gym, picking up the week’s programming from a stack of papers on Schumacher’s desk and silently selecting training platforms.

With her dedication and enthusiasm, Schumacher is representative of the fresh, new energy that has infused USA Weightlifting and is ushering in a new era of hope for the sport.

According to Vance Newgard, head coach of the Olympic Training Site at Northern Michigan University, “The largest problem plaguing the sport of weightlifting in the United States today is a lack of hope.  People don’t believe that American weightlifters can bring home Olympic medals.”

Coaches like Schumacher are working to change this.

Early Years

Schumacher began her journey eight years ago when a friend introduced her to CrossFit.  She was instantly drawn to the Olympic lifts and sought out coaching and education opportunities.  In just a few short years, Schumacher was a certified USA Weightlifting coach with her own group of athletes.  She is now the head coach at Proven Strength and Conditioning, where she trains athletes six hours a day, six days a week.

Grassroots Director

In addition to coaching, Schumacher assists USA Weightlifting at the organization level.  She can be seen at most national competitions, serving as a marshall, referee, speaker, timer or whatever else needs doing.  Schumacher is a USAW National Level Coach, as well as an IWF National Referee.  Recently, she was elected to USA Weightlifting’s Board of Directors, where she serves as the Grassroots Director.

As the Grassroots Director, Schumacher represents the club owners to USA Weightlifting and votes at board meetings on their behalf.  Schumacher explains, “I act as a resource for club owners, and I also convey the ‘word on the street.’  People come up to me at meets and give me ideas, which I report to the board of directors.”

 

10-year old, Ryan, is training to set a new Utah state record for his weight class at an upcoming competition.

Coaching with Confidence

Throughout the self-guided practice, Schumacher patrols the room, attending to lifters as they need guidance.  She is particularly mindful of the younger lifters and spends most of her time instructing and correcting their movements.  “Weightlifting is an excellent tool for teaching kids how to deal with failure.  Many parents are so protective of their kids that they don’t want them to fail.  In fact, we want our kids to fail so that we can teach them how to deal with failure in a healthy, positive way.  Weightlifting gives kids an opportunity to fail and succeed over and over again.”

Schumacher’s favorite part about coaching, however, is instilling confidence in her lifters: “When you challenge yourself physically, you have confidence that other people don’t have.  That confidence can’t be beat.  I love the fact that people can find that in weightlifting.  For me personally, my favorite part is watching people’s confidence explode.”

After training with Schumacher for two weeks, I gathered the following tips that could be useful to other coaches:

  • Use Positivity.  Throughout her training sessions, Schumacher remained optimistic and positive, even when her lifters made misses or were having a bad day.  Schumacher explained, “Weightlifters are optimists.  We always feel like things will be better tomorrow.”  Schumacher’s attitude transferred to her lifters, who consistently put their best efforts into each lift.
  • Unilateral Work.  Schumacher is a big believer in exercises that bring balance to the body.  She explained that almost all weightlifters are stronger on one side of their bodies, and that corrective exercises should be performed to bring the weaker side up to the level of the strong side.  She uses exercises such as single leg box jumps and single leg triple jumps to achieve this.
  • Create Opportunities for Competition.  Schumacher pointed out that kids—especially boys—love to compete.  Coaches can keep their training fun by creating competitive opportunities for their athletes.
  • Volunteer!  If you want to be a better coach, you should observe other good coaches.  Schumacher explains, “I like working in the back [as a marshall].  It is a great place to learn.  I get to watch good coaches interact with their athletes.  I get to see how they warm up their athletes and prepare them for competition.  I get to see how the best athletes go out onto the platform.”
Youth lifter, Gavin (right), gets advice from Will, a senior lifter. Gavin participates in several sports, but he especially enjoys weightlifting because of the individual instruction he receives and the ability to constantly test his limits.

As I left the gym–ten minutes after practice ended–Schumacher was still working with athletes, intent on helping them regardless of the time required.  I smiled, realizing that the future of weightlifting will remain bright as long as coaches like Schumacher are involved.