New Powerlifting Club raises the bar

Austin Hurst, staff writer

In the after school hours, sounds of cheering and excitement fill the weights room as South’s Powerlifting Club athletes put in the work to beat personal records or add another weight to their barbell, junior Denisse Nazare said. 

South’s Powerlifting Club consists of 40 athletes with 13 total competitors, 10 of whom are male athletes and three that are female, Nazare said. As a female powerlifter, Nazare acknowledged that  lifting might seem daunting at first due to the male dominated atmosphere. 

“I started going to the gym in a predominantly male environment and saw very few women lifting,” Nazare said. “[At South, I] wanted to be a role model for other girls that want to lift but are too scared because of the stigma [that only men can lift]. Powerlifting is meant to be fun and not stressful.”

South’s Powerlifting Club was created in November 2021 with the help of its current sponsor, Conor Deal, Physical Education Instructional Assistant. Although South students had enjoyed powerlifting for nearly four years, an official team was never established until this fall, Deal explained. 

“We have been informally [powerlifting as a group] for the last four years,” Deal said. “This is the first time we’ve had a [powerlifting] club [that] is recognized by our school. [Some students] did a lot of recruiting and got people involved [in Powerlifting Club.” 

On April 2, South hosted and competed in its first regional competition, in which the club had several athletes qualify for sectionals, including sophomore Thomas McDonagh. During this competition, McDonagh broke a state record for squatting 275 pounds, he said.

“[In powerlifting club], you don’t have to be very strong [or] that far into lifting,” McDonagh said. “The sport ultimately comes down to how much you’re willing to [push] yourself. Nobody [is] helping you, it’s all you.” 

Senior Jill Pryor began powerlifting when the club was formed. She explained that powerlifting has three events: back squat, bench press, and deadlift. At each club meeting, all of the powerlifters will practice in each category, even though everyone has their own goals and do not always compete every skill, Pryor said.

“[There is] an individual aspect [to the club],” Pryor said. “[Powerlifting is] mostly about improving yourself and the team is super supportive [as] everyone is trying to get better.”

Deal described powerlifting as a strength sport that focuses on maximum effort while maintaining control. During powerlifting competitions, racks are set up with different weights for the powerlifter to attempt. Afterward, three judges score the lift based on form and control. 

“Regardless of what school they [attend], people were cheering [because they] wanted them to succeed,” Deal said.  “The best part of powerlifting is [that] the atmosphere is very supportive.”