by Thom Van Vleck
I work at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Missouri (and we have a sister campus in Mesa, Arizona). The University centers on several programs that are all healthcare related. The “granddaddy” of them all is the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine which was founded in 1892 and produces some of the finest Doctors in the world! I am the Director of Counseling and I really enjoy my work helping these students who will in turn help so many in their career.
For years, I have wanted to start a weightlifting type club. We have a fine fitness center (Thompson Campus Center) run by Dan Martin who is very supportive of weightlifting and fitness in general. Since I have worked here, I have had many students involved in the Jackson Weightlifting Club, my Scottish Highland Games, and in a few of the USAWA meets as well (last year Joe Costello, an ATSU graduate, competed in the Old Time Strongman Nationals). Recently, I finally found a couple of motivated students who helped me get this done. Their names are Mike McIntyre and Jared Nichols. Out of that, the Osteoblasters Weightlifting Club was born. The sports teams of the past at ATSU had a skull and crossbones as their logo and an “O” as their “letter”. So I created a logo that had crossed barbells with a skull surrounded by an “O” as a tribute to the school’s past. The world Osteoblaster comes from the name of a cell that helps break down bone to rebuild it stronger after stress (such as exercise). That cell is called an “Osteoblast” (I can’t make that up!). Plus, KCOM is an Osteopathic school so it just seemed right.
I had hoped we might get 10 or so to join the club. Imagine my surprise when over 50 joined! We had a wide range of students from many different athletic backgrounds. Some had been outstanding college athletes, some just weekend warriors, but they all had the common thread of using weightlifting to reach their goals and wanted something more than a weight room full of machines, benches, and squat racks. They wanted to be able to do Olympic style lifting and training, strongman training, and more dynamic type stuff than is typically allowed in the average gym. So, we got Dan Martin of the TCC to buy us some bumpers and other equipment and we utilize the basketball gym area by pulling out large rubber mats for platforms. We started 4 sessions a week and this fall we will move to 6 a week! We will go out back of the TCC and lift off the parking lot, throw Highland Games weights, toss kettlebells around, pull sleds, you name it and we’ve probably done it. Today’s youth want to lift, but they don’t want to be boxed into powerlifting, weightlifting type meets. They want variety, and I’m hoping the USAWA will give them some variety.
My hope is that the OWC will help the JWC when it comes to the meets that I do. The JWC is hosting the Old Time Strong man Championships again this fall and I’m hoping that students will volunteer to help as well as compete! I am also hoping to sanction a meet for the OWC this fall! This could be a beautiful relationship! Plus, I can help these guys lift and train….and I”m “on the clock”! Can’t beat that!