It is not the critic who counts

by Eric Todd

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”-Teddy Roosevelt

This quote by President Roosevelt was introduced to me by Coach Fallein, my high school wrestling coach. It always stuck with me, I guess because I was competitive in nature. One could argue that through this quote, a parallel can be drawn between weightlifting and life.
There has been more than one occasion where I have witnessed someone who weightlifting (or another competitive avenue) came easy to. They try it a few times, whip the competition, and then disappear into the night. My first thought always was that if I was that natural at something, I would do it as much as possible, and be the best in the world. But alas, it was not to be and I had to scratch and claw for every PR and victory I have achieved. So why did these guys disappear? While pondering this question with colleagues, we determined that the success had come too easy for these guys. They had not felt the sting of failure. They did not have to go back to the gym, back to the drawing board, refocus and re-attack. Thus when they re-entered the arena and were victorious, they knew not of the contrast between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

It is those hills and valleys that make our companionship with the weights so rewarding. Clearly, winning is the goal. But the ride to get there is what it is all about. Am I satisfied with a win if I did not lift as I am capable? There have been a time or two (no more) that I was almost satisfied with second, as I performed above and beyond anything I could have hoped for, the other guys was just better (which stings a bit anyhow). Throughout it all, though, you have got to allow yourself to enjoy the ride.

There was a time in 2003, when I was just off winning my weight class at strongman nationals. I was top 3 overall, 1 point out of second, and the first place guy received his pro card. I knew that I was going to go pro at my next contest. I poured all my eggs into 2003 Lumberjack days in Stillwater, MN. I trained like a maniac for this contest; I could not lose. I knew Dave Ostlund (of World’s strongest Man fame) would be there, and he was tough, just coming off a top 3 placement in his weight class at nationals, but I was 2 and 0 against him, and knew I could make it 3 in a row. Well, the meet came and went. I ended up 3rd. I lifted fairly well, but it just was not enough. I was devastated. I had to regroup and do some soul searching. I had to re-prioritize things, and decide if I was even going to get back to the drawing board. This loss stung.

I am glad I chose to remain stalwart in my pursuit of strength. I tried a few more times for my heavyweight pro card, and was close, achieving a couple second place finishes. Ultimately, I chose to drop to the new 105 kilo division, and within half a year, I had earned my pro card at the 2005 Monsters of the Midwest. It happened in the most dramatic of fashions. Me and Dino Nick were tied going into the final event: the Atlas Stones. I had gone first and put up a quick time. However, when Nick started, he was on pace to beat me. He was on pace until the final stone, and he just was not quite able to load it. Believe me, at that moment, I was at the top of the world. That peak was so high, because of the depth of the valleys.

The highs and lows, that is the spice of our lives. I love living in the country in Missouri. I love seeing the seasons change. The May days that are sunny and in the seventies are so much sweeter because of the blizzards in January. The peaks are made remarkable because of the valleys we are made to toil through.

A couple years ago, right before thanksgiving, Mom called and said she would not be able to watch Phoebe the next day as she was not feeling well. Well we scrambled to make alternate plans, but something in the back of my mind kept me a little worried about Ma. Any of you who know her know that she is never sick, or at least wont hardly admit to being, and NOTHING will stand in the way of her time with her grandbabies. So I felt that something as a bit off. Well, I called the next day, and she was clearly not well. I talked her into going into the ER, and she ended up having an emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her colon. Though surgery went as well as could be expected, it was an invasive surgery, and she had to spend some time in ICU recovering.

I spent a lot of time at the hospital over that holiday break, spending time with ma, and spending time with dad. He clearly was worried. He had been a bit ill himself, with what appeared to be something respiratory. Dad, Jennifer, and Phoebe ate Thanksgiving dinner at Cameron Regional Medical Center that year. Me and Dad stayed most of the day, and into the night. We then made our way home, and I to bed, trying to get a little sleep, as during this time I had been lacking. At around midnight; however, I was awakened by the telephone. It was Dad. He asked me to take him to the ER. We went in, and as it turns out, his affliction was not respiratory at all. He had atrial fibrillation which was causing his heart to go crazy, and as it turns out it was a miracle he did not have a heart attack. So, that night, I got to move dad into the ICU next to Mom. I spent the rest of the night going back and forth to the hospital getting medications, clothes, etc. I finally was able to sleep around 8:00 in the morning. Those days were some dark ones. It was tough keeping everything together and trudging on through. I was in a valley.
Mom and Dad both recovered miraculously. They are both are doing wonderful. I enjoy each and every minute I get to spend with them. I have a beautiful wife and two amazing kids. I have a job I love, and get to lift for fun. I am not lifting the best I ever have, but am still confident my best years are ahead of me. My life is a grand one. Those valleys I have been to let me know just how glorious these peaks can be.

I can tell you this, learning to deal with the peaks and valleys in sport goes a great deal toward teaching us how to deal with adversity in our lives. Getting my tail kicked on the wrestling mat (I can tell you, it is personal-you physically get your tail beat by another individual, saying he is the better man that day) on the football field, the track, in the weightlifting arena, and having to figure out how to deal with it and come back from it has helped teach me how to face the trials and tribulations in life. And it has shown me just how precious each victory, no matter how small, can be.

The rest of the story….

by Eric Todd

Growing up, when we listened to the radio, it was always 61 Country (an AM station out of KC) or KMRN (a local AM station). On both of those stations, I enjoyed listening to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”. Last year, I wrote an article called “Where Do We Go?” that detailed some of the reasons that I feel our membership in the USAWA is not terribly substantial. Well, in this article, I would like to discuss “The Rest of the Story”, benefits of all-round that draw lifters to the USAWA.

The USAWA offers something for everyone. Everyone has their own strengths. There are a multitude of lifts in the USAWA across many different aspects of strength. There are grip lifts, heavy lifts, 2 man lifts, dumbbell lifts, and barbell lifts. There are eccentric lifts and very standard lifts (variations of the Olympic and powerlifting movements). So there are many different ways to demonstrate your strength. One should never be bored doing all-round. Even if you have an injury, or are limited in some way, you should be able to find some way to excel in the USAWA.

Secondly, the USAWA is drug tested. If you are new to the USAWA, you will probably be tested. IF you have dramatic increases in your lifts, you will probably be tested. Please take no offense. It is how we maintain the integrity of our drug free organization. I, for one, take a great deal of comfort knowing that I am lifting on an even playing field with other drug free lifters.

There is definitely camaraderie, a brotherhood, whilst lifting in the USAWA. It is a small enough organization that you get to know most of the good folks lifting within it. Because of this, the meets are not only competitions, they are like family reunions. I want to out lift the other competitors, but I am rooting for them all the while to lift their very best. It is the best environment to be lifting in.

Then there are the Heavy Lifts. No other organization has them, to my knowledge. If you want to inflate your ego a little, and swell up in the chest, do some Heavy lifting. Through no other means will you lift as much. I have done a ton or more in 4 lifts now, and I am not close to being the best of the best.

There is nothing more old school than lifting all-round. Because of that, you will get to lift in some of the coolest old school gyms you have ever seen. If you love the history behind weightlifting, some of our old school USAWA gyms are wealthy is weightlifting history. I know I have not been to all of them, but if you want to experience strength training and weightlifting history, visit Al’s Dino Gym, Clark’s championship gym, or the JWC Training Hall. I am sure there are many others in the USAWA.

The USAWA is a very unique organization for strength training. Sometimes it can be humbling, but is always a great time. For any strength enthusiast who has not tried competing in a USAWA meet, you are missing out. I suggest coming out. You will meet some great people and get to challenge yourself in ways you never had before.

New Direction for the USAWA!

by Glückliche Aprilscherz

As of today we have new leadership in the USAWA!  Out with the old and in with the new and happening.  The NEW ORDER is bringing many new things to the old, stodgy USAWA.  First of all, DRUGS!  Lots of them.  Plenty of steroids, spheroids,asteroids, hemorrhoids, HGH, UGH, SheGh, WeallGH!  Let’s face it.  That’s what the masses want!  We don’t want to fall behind the times do we?  Of course not!

The next big move will be supportive gear.  Super suits, super wraps, super shoes, super britches, super bras, super socks, and my favorite…. super long johns!  There will be a special line of gear that is endorsed by the USAWA.  We have partnered up with a hydraulic firm that will put hydraulic jacks in our lifting suits.  I just got my “fork lift” gym shorts and immediately squatted 5000lbs!   It made me feel like a real man, too!

Rules…….NO MORE RULES!  Who needs ‘em!  We just fight over them and it makes everyone feel bad.  The rulebook takes forever to read and who wants to read!  Just make stuff up and pass everything.  Heck, no rules means we don’t need judges!   That’s a bonus!  Who needs someone looking down their nose at you while you are lifting making you do a legit lift that has some semblance of correctness.  Just slop it up and down….or just down…who cares!!!!

Winning?  Well, that’s not with the times fellas!  There will be no losers in the USAWA.   Everyone will be a winner and feel great about themselves.  The new judges tree will simply flash white lights whenever you step on the podium….or EVEN BEFORE!  Just show up…heck, don’t show up…and we’ll give you a trophy.  Why should you lift heavy weights and get all sweaty?  Why should you suffer from low self esteem because you aren’t the strongest man in the world and you have worked out for at least 20 minutes for 3 or 4 times.  You should be rewarded for just trying….heck…forget about even trying…you should be rewarded for just wanting it “real, real bad”.

Money!? Who needs it.  It only screws things up.  So the meets will be totally free.  Someone else will do all the work, too!  This is my favorite part.  I have even proposed that we go all professional and we all get paid THOUSANDS of dollars for showing up to meets (or not showing….just thinking about it hard enough and should be rewarded).  The USAWA will immediately petition the government for stipend to make this happen.  We also propose that we all be able to quit or jobs so we can just workout.  I’m sure that will be fine….I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of people out there that like to work and give away their money and why not give it to people who are deserving….LIKE US!

So, welcome to the new USAWA!  And we will make today our special holiday! Happy April 1st!

Lifter of the Month: LaVerne Myers

by Al Myers

March is over so it’s time to get the lifter of the month for February announced!  I had to think “long and hard” on this decision, but I’ve made the choice of choosing my father LaVerne Myers as the 2014 USAWA February Lifter of the Month. Now before you start accusing me of “playing favorites” in my  …… More

Buridan’s Ass

by Thom Van Vleck

The story of Buridan’s Ass is a paradox where an ass (ass as in burro or donkey….not someone’s backside) is that is equally hungry and thirst is placed between a pail of water and a stack of hay.  The ass dies of hunger and thirst because it can’t make a decision about which way to go!  …… More

Frank’s BBC RB

by Frank Ciavattone Sr.

MEET WRITEUP AND  RESULTS

Frank’s Barbell Club Record Breaker

This meet was held March 15, 2014. This meet had seven competitors, all showing up before 9:00 am. Immediately following weigh-in there was a pancake breakfast, enjoyed by all.

After that we had a list of records to be broken with  …… More

Big T’s OTSM (First Update)

by Thom Van Vleck

I have some more information on OTSM being held at the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  Entry info and a link to the first story on the meet can be found under the USAWA Future Events section.

This meet will be held outside weather permitting.  If the weather is bad, we’ll move it inside.  Each lifter will be  …… More

Nicknames

by Thom Van Vleck

I’ve told a story recently and reference a nickname for my Uncle Wayne Jackson.  I wanted to tell about where that came from.

A couple of years ago I hosted the USAWA Nationals.  Wayne was able to make it and was kind of a guest of honor.  At one point Al Myers noticed I called him  …… More

Presidential Cup

[ August 9, 2014; 4:00 pm; ]

by Al Myers

Our Prez Denny Habecker has sanctioned this year’s Presidential Cup again!  The President’s Cup is the KING of USAWA Record Days.  I like to think of it as the CHAMPIONSHIP OF RECORD DAYS in the USAWA.   It is under direction to be promoted by the USAWA President, with the lift that impresses the President the most being  …… More

ARNOLD’S MULTI-RINGED CIRCUS

BY DAVE GLASGOW

I HAVE HEARD OF ‘THE ARNOLD’ ALMOST FROM THE BEGINNING, ALL SORTS OF STORIES AND RECOLLECTIONS FROM THOSE THAT HAVE MADE THE TREK. I NEVER FIGURED I WOULD MAKE THE JOURNEY MYSELF, AS LARGE CROWDS ARE JUST NOT MY STYLE. HOWEVER, WHEN I MADE THE CUT TO BE ONE OF THE FIRST GROUP OF AMATEUR THROWERS FOR  …… More

Better than Gold

by Thom Van Vleck

I was recently at an event and one of the other competitors reached over and pull out a medal I had hanging around my neck.  He wanted to know what it represented.  It is a medal that I’ve worn in every competition I’ve been in or at least been on between lifts or events.  It’s been  …… More

Lifter of the Month: Dave Glasgow

by Al Myers

Congrats goes to Dave Glasgow for being the USAWA Lifter of the Month for January!!  Dave competed in the Dino Gym Challenge in January – the tribute to Warren Lincoln Travis.  Along with competing, Dave encouraged other Ledaig Club members to attend (Larry Traub, Doug Kressly, and Logan Kressly).  Without Dave’s support of this meet – it  …… More

Postal Series 2013

by Al Myers

As the first quarterly postal meet of 2014 is less than 30 days from being completed, I finally got the results from the 2013 Postal Series tabulated.  The USAWA has 4 postal meets per year (March, June, September, and December), with the last one being designated as the Postal Championships.  All these together make up the Postal  …… More

Ruth Jackson new USAWA Official

by Al Myers

Congrats to Ruth Jackson for becoming the latest new USAWA Official.  RJ was the first one to undergo the more strenuous requirements to become an official.   A couple of years ago the USAWA began requiring practical training after passing the written rules test in order to become a certified official. Ruth just completed her practical training at  …… More

Big T’s OTSM

[ May 31, 2014; 3:00 pm; ]

by Thom Van Vleck

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT: BIG T’S BIRTHDAY BASH OTSM

This May I turn 50 years old.  My wife asked me what I wanted to do.  Well, I love to throw, lift, and eat with family and friends.  So I will be hosting a Scottish Highland Games at my gym near Greentop, Missouri as well as an  …… More

National Championships

[ June 21, 2014; 9:00 am; ]

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
2014 USAWA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

The date has been set – June 21st – so mark this day off your calendar and make plans to attend the USAWA Nationals in Macomb, Illinois. Tim Piper, of the Salvation Army Gym, will be this years host and meet director.  Macomb is the perfect location for  …… More

OCPD: Weightlifting Sub-type

by Thom Van Vleck

Recently the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) was released.  It has the criteria for diagnosing mental health disorders.   I end up referring to it a great deal as part of my job as a Licensed Professional Counselor.   The DSM 5 is actually the 7th revision which plays into the fact that there are  …… More

Texas Power Bar

by Al Myers

The Texas Power Bar has become synonymous with THE STANDARD of powerlifting bars over the past 25 years. This bar was initially marketed in the early 80’s and has been used by many powerlifters thru the years, both in training and in competition.  It is a general PL bar – meaning that it is a good bar  …… More

Dino Gym RD

by Al Myers

Last weekend was a full weekend of great lifting at the Dino Gym!  Sunday picked up where Saturday left off with 5 lifters attempting to break/set new USAWA records.  I was surprised to see 3 new faces on Sunday who could not make the Grip Champs – Chad Ullom, Doug Kressly and Logan Kressly.  Dan Wagman and Ruth  …… More

Grip Championships

by Al Myers

2014 USAWA GRIP CHAMPIONSHIPS

The USAWA Grip Championships turned out to be much more successful than I predicted with the bad weather and snow that preceded it.  At one point last week I was wondering if anyone would show up!  Then to my surprise – 10 lifters made it to the Dino Gym Saturday morning.  …… More

Heavy Lift Championships

[ May 3, 2014; 12:00 pm; ]

by Al Myers

I’m excited to be hosting the 2014 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships.  This is my first opportunity to be able to host this long time prestigious event.  The Heavy Lift Championships are to recognize the best “heavy lifters” in the USAWA.  Three lifts have become the traditional format for this meet over the past few years – Neck  …… More

Zercher Strength Classic

[ March 29, 2014; 11:00 am; ]

by Al Myers

Bill and Joe have made plans to host the annual Zercher Strength Classic at Clark’s Gym on March 29th.  The date is later this year than usual – which hopefully will help with the attendance.  The ”traditional day”   often fell on Super Bowl weekend which might hinder those passionate football fans from attending, and having it later will help avoid those  …… More

Frank’s BBC Championships

[ March 15, 2014; 7:00 pm; ]

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

Frank’s Barbell Club Championships

Meet Director: Frank Ciavattone

Meet Date: Saturday, March 15th

Location:

Frank’s Barbell Club

204 East Street, Walpole, MA 02032

Contact Frank if you plan to attend.

Year in Review

by Al Myers

I’ve announced this in the USAWA Discussion Forum, but would like to as well in a blog so everyone is aware of the 2013 Year in Review.  I’ve compiled the entire year of 2013 in the USAWA (from all website stories) into a document for print.  I’m planning on taking it to the printers next week.  If  …… More

World Championships

[ September 27, 2014; 12:00 pm; ]

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

2014 IAWA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

It’s exciting to be able to announce the 2014 IAWA World Championships – to be held September 27-28th in Norwood, MA.  Longtime meet promoter Frank Ciavattone Jr. will be the meet director.   Frank is a well-organized and seasoned promoter and has many things planned for  …… More

Joe the Turk OTSM

[ April 19, 2014; 11:00 am; ]

by Tim Piper

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT AND PRESS RELEASE

Joe the Turk” Old Time Strongman Meet

The Macomb Salvation Army will host the 2nd annual “Joe the Turk” Old Time Strongman Meet on April 19th. “Joe the Turk” was Macomb Illinois’ original “strongman” and holds a unique and special place in the history of the Macomb Salvation Army. At  …… More

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers

I was quite surprised by the turnout at this year’s Dino Gym Challenge.  On Saturday 8 brave lifters showed up to take on some of the favorite lifts of the famous old time strongman Warren Lincoln Travis.  I decided to have this meet in tribute to WLT – as he has always been one of my favorite  …… More

Postal Championships

by Al Myers

The results of the 2013 USAWA Postal Championships are in!!!  It’s been another good year of postal meets within the USAWA, with 11 lifters taking part in our postal meet grand finale.  The big winners in the Postal Championships are WOMEN – RUTH JACKSON and MEN – DAN WAGMAN.  Congrats to both of these exceptionally lifters for  …… More

OTSM Wrap Up for 2013

by Thom Van Vleck

2013 was a great year for Old Time Strong Man (OTSM) in the USAWA.  We saw four meets and 38 total lifters.  Here are some highlights:

Eric Todd won two of the meets while Chad Ullom and Dan Wagman won one apiece.

Two of the meets included women lifters with Ruth Jackson and Whitney Piper being  …… More

1st Quarter Postal Meet

[ March 31, 2014; 4:00 pm; ]

by Al Myers

There has been a big change this year in our USAWA Postal Meet Series.  John Wilmot has “stepped down” as the Postal Meet Director after many years of doing an excellent job in this capacity.  Our USAWA Postal Meets have become a BIG PART of the yearly USAWA schedule, with quarterly meets culminating in the final Postal  …… More

Art’s Birthday Bash

[ October 12, 2014; 12:00 pm; ]

by Al Myers

2014 is barely underway and in the mail today I received a sanction request from Art Montini announcing his 2014 Annual Birthday Bash!  Art’s Birthday Bash is the longest running sanctioned event in the USAWA (besides our Nationals).  Last year Art celebrated his 86th birthday and he’s already in training for year number 87. He likes to celebrate  …… More

Da Rules

by Thom Van Vleck

Let’s start off the new year right with some controversy!  I don’t think it’s controversial but I imagine some will.

When my kids were younger they liked to watch a kids’ show called the “Fairly Odd Parents” which was a play off of “Fairy God Parents”.  In the show a boy had two fairy god parents  …… More

Top Lifts of 2013

by Al Myers

Today welcomes in a New Year, and  with it comes the excitement of another very promising year in the USAWA.   2013 had to be one of the best EVER in the history of the USAWA.  There were many great competitions and great individual performances.  Of the 22 official competitions that occurred in 2013 in the USAWA, I was  …… More

Black Angus MacAskill

by Thom Van Vleck

I enjoyed hearing stories when I was a kid.  You know…good, old fashioned story telling.  Television was around, but with one channel the viewing was limited and since we live in a very rural area story telling in my family was a huge form of entertainment.   My grandfather was the king of story telling….he had  …… More

Perfect Powerful Pulls

by John McKean

Audience chanting called a halt to the proceedings at the 1963 Senior National Weightlifting Championships. No, not due to a poor judging decision, nor a new record lift. Rather the mere appearance of a little known 181 pound wonder named Jim Dorn created this immediate stir. The uninformed in the crowd assumed him to be a bodybuilder,  …… More

Wayne Jackson: Chasing Strength

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Jackson is my Uncle.  But he has been much more than that.  He inspired me to lift weights, he was a father figure to me, a training partner, and most of all, a friend.  Wayne, along with his brother Phil, revived the Jackson Weightlifting Club in 1957.  While the club grew to over two  …… More

Shoulder Drop Continued…..

by Al Myers

Last month when Thom wrote that “controversial” story on the Shoulder Drop I thought maybe there would be some hotly discussed forum debate on it – but there wasn’t!!!  I guess that goes to show that the Shoulder Drop is not an All Round Lift that warrants attention, and most lifters really don’t care “one way or  …… More

All-Round Peak Contraction

by John McKean

Each thigh was bigger in circumference than the lifter’s entire inseam measured. And those legs were CUT ! My good friend Santos Martinez was famed for his olympic lifting and physique wins here in Pittsburgh during the early 1960s, and later for powerlifting. Usually weighing 198 pounds at about 5′7″ in height, Santos always impressed with his  …… More

Lifter of the Month: Eric Todd

by Al Myers

The lifter of the month for December goes to Eric Todd, overall champion at this month’s Old Time Strongman Championships.  Eric has had a great year in the USAWA, and is one of the promising all rounders for future years. Eric has been involved as a meet promoter as well, and is founder of the registered USAWA  …… More

NE Record Breakers

By James Fuller

2013 in East Walpole Mass at Frank’s Barbell Club gravity got told to, “Go take a hike!” Two brothers, Frank and Joe Ciavattone graciously gave of their time and resources so seven of us could show our dominance over the iron. Faces familiar and new pulled, pushed and squeezed to fight for a place in the record  …… More