Building inclusivity rep by rep


Ella Vick, staff writer

The Washington Post cited a 2-to-1 ratio of men to women registered for powerlifting competitions globally in 2018. Josh Shargo, South’s Powerlifting Club president, is determined to equalize that ratio by increasing the diversity of student involvement. Shargo also stated that current seniors are working to solidify the club as a permanent pillar of South athletics.

Increasing student involvement would lead to greater inclusivity in powerlifting, Shargo explained. The hope would be to establish powerlifting as an official school sport.

“I want powerlifting to be as much of a priority as the other sports [here at South],” Shargo said. 

The central motivation of the Powerlifting Club is to help all participants achieve their fitness goals. Senior Denisse Nazare describes everyone working hand-in-hand during club meetings. Members set up their racks, get their music going, and complete the lifts on their program. Club meetings have a special energy with members cheering each other on and developing friendships, Nazare said.

“Everyone sets up their racks and does their lifts,” Nazare said. “If you hit a new PR [personal record], people gather around you to encourage you [which provides an] incredible energy. It can seem intimidating, but even if you’re a girl, you can power lift with a bunch of guys by your side and form friendships [with them].”

Powerlifting Club is part of the Illinois High School Powerlifting Association (IHSPA). Thus, members participate in regional and state competitions every year. Last year, the team placed second in state and won regionals. The team wants to compete in more local meets, senior Anton Berkun, Powerlifting Club Captain, explained.

“We won 90 percent of the boys’ weight divisions at regionals, and we also won a weight class for the girls,” Berkun said. “We won regionals and placed second at state. However, the community we’ve built is our biggest [accomplishment].”

There are many misconceptions associated with powerlifting that may keep students from joining. Berkun said that peers often share worries with him that they are “not big enough.” However, Berkun said it is a member’s work ethic and drive that matter most.

“Some [potential members] come to me wishing to join but worry that they aren’t big enough,” said Berkun. “If you’re ready to work, you’ll get [to your goals]. To anybody reading this, I hope you give [powerlifting club] a try.”