Bob Geib – New Inductee into the USAWA Hall of Fame

by Al Myers

Bob Geib (center) receiving his USAWA Hall of Fame Plaque. Presenters include Al Myers (left) and Dennis Mitchell (right).

The big HIGHLIGHT of the USAWA Annual Awards Presentation was the induction of Bob Geib into the USAWA Hall of Fame.  The Hall of Fame is the highest honor one can receive in the USAWA, and there is not a person more deserving than Bob Geib.  Bob has been involved with the USAWA since almost the very beginning.  Bob got started in the USAWA under the guidance of USAWA legend Howard Prechtel. I’m sure Bob spent many hours training with Howard in the Prechtel Athletic Club in Cleveland developing his skills with the all-round lifts. I know this because Bob has frequently mentioned Howard to me, and gives Howard credit for getting him involved in the USAWA.  Bob also often traveled with Howard to big National and World meets.  At this years Nationals, Bob even brought a plaque honoring Howard to the meet venue, so in a small way Howard Prechtel was a part of this years big 25 year celebration.

This brings the USAWA Hall of Fame membership to 23 members over our 25 year history.  So you can see it is hard to reach Hall of Fame status – that’s less than 1 new member every year.  This award is not just HANDED OVER – you have to earn it!   Bob has quite the resume of USAWA involvement.  Dennis Mitchell (a fellow Cleveland native who has known Bob for a long time) gave Bob’s  induction speech.  In his speech, Dennis summarized Bob’s involvement which I would like to share with you.

  • Competed in the USAWA Nationals 14 times -  2012, 2011, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991
  • Competed in the IAWA Worlds 9 times – 2005, 2004, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991
  • Competed in the Gold Cup 8 times – 2005, 2004, 2003, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991
  • Bob promoted the IAWA Gold Cup in 2005 in Hawaii.  He also competed in the very first Gold Cup which was promoted by Howard Prechtel in 1991.  He has competed oversees 5 times – England three times, Australia once, and Scotland once.
  • Currently holds 77 USAWA records.

Soon I will write a complete biography on Bob for the USAWA Hall of Fame archives.  But in the meantime – CONGRATULATIONS Bob on this big honor.  You are now part of the elite USAWA crowd. You deserve it!!

The USAWA Hall of Fame Program

by Al Myers

Finally, the USAWA has revived the USAWA Hall of Fame Program.  This has been a long process that has taken over one year to accomplish.  This process started at the 2009 National Meeting when the ad hoc committee of Denny Habecker, Dale Friesz, and Dennis Mitchell was established to investigate and make recommendations on the Hall of Fame Program at the 2010 National Meeting.  Upon hearing the committee’s suggestions at the 2010 meeting, the membership voted to allow the newly elected Executive Board to “iron out the details” and once every Executive Board member was in agreement, the new Hall of Fame Program would be implemented immediately.  Well, I’m proud to say that the Executive Board has already accomplished this task and the USAWA once again has an active Hall of Fame Program. Thanks needs to be given to the committee that worked tirelessly in providing different choices of Hall of Fame Programs to the membership at the meeting, and to the Executive Board of Denny Habecker, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt, Dennis Mitchell and myself for working through the final details.    The Board looked at every aspect of this new program, and discussed each point extensively so the best program possible would be implemented.  The new Hall of Fame Program criteria is laid out very clearly, and is a very simple system.

This New Program is different in some ways than what was used before.  In the early days of the USAWA,  Hall of Fame nominees were selected and voted on by the membership at the National Meeting.  No specific criteria was required to be nominated, just a nomination from someone at the meeting.   In 1997, the USAWA decided to go to a points system for Hall of Fame induction.  The committee of Chris Waterman, Frank Ciavattone, Denny Habecker, and John Vernacchio were put in charge of developing this system.  Once it was developed and accepted by the membership, Chris Waterman was designated as the official person to oversee the program.  Part of his responsibility was keeping track of everyone’s points as they applied to the Hall of Fame criteria, and once 1000 points were reached, he would present that individual for Hall of Fame induction.  Chris Waterman did an outstanding job of keeping track of everyone’s points with this tedious system. It required him to accurately record and maintain a list of ALL members and their HOF  points at all times. The problem arose when he retired in 2003 and the USAWA did not delegate someone else to take over his duties of maintaining the Hall of Fame Program and thus the program “died” until now.

In the new Hall of Fame Program, an individual may be nominated in one of two ways – either on Merit or on Honor.  To be nominated on Merit, 1000 points must be reached.  Twelve categories are laid out in the Nomination Form in which an nominee may accrue points.  These categories include such things as participation in National and World Meets, placing in the top five at National and World Meets, participating in other meets such as local meets or postal meets, serving the USAWA as an officer, being a Meet Director, being a Club Founder, and even  points are awarded for current USAWA records held.  It pretty much covers everything!  One of the differences from the previous point system is that with the new system it  is harder to reach 1000 points.  Less points are awarded in the different categories than before. Another big difference is that the New Hall of Fame Program will rely on the membership to make nominations, instead of just one person “keeping track of everything”.  I think this is important in that it will allow the Hall of Fame Program to self-perpetuate, by being independent of one individual or a committee.  The second way of being nominated is on the basis of Honor. No point criteria is required to be nominated this way.  This allows the USAWA the ability to award Hall of Fame Membership to someone the organization feels  deserves it, who  may not have been involved directly with the USAWA.

I am very pleased with the development of this new USAWA Hall of Fame Program.  I like it’s  simplicity. I like how “clear cut”  and specific it is in regards to the point criteria. I like how it relies on the membership for presenting nominees.   It also allows  an individual to monitor their own points in pursuit of the highest award the USAWA has to offer, and by this, provides a “source of inspiration” to all USAWA members.

The new Hall of Fame Nomination Form is found under the section “Forms and Applications”, or you can view it here at HOF Nomination Form.

Scott Schmidt is Inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt "relaxing" prior to the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

A highlight this past weekend at the National Championships occurred Saturday after the meet, when the membership was sitting down to the Annual National Meeting.  This highlight was that Scott Schmidt was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame.  I feel Scott’s induction was a big step forward for the USAWA, not only because Scott is more than deserving of the most prestigious award the USAWA has to offer, but because Scott’s induction marks the rebirth of the USAWA Hall of Fame program, which has been inactive since 2003. As I have said already, Scott is more than deserving of this Award and HAS  BEEN  for several years. He put in the work and effort to be in the Hall, and it is about time the USAWA gives him the credit he deserves (and earned!).  Scott has won numerous National Championships and quite a few World Championships in his journey to joining the elite club of the USAWA.  He is a holder of over 100 USAWA Records. He has participated in Gold Cups. He has always supported local meets. He is a club founder. He helps out fellow competitors.  Scott epitomizes a Hall of Famer – and is the type of athlete and individual all others should strive to be like. The USAWA will ceremonially induct Scott into the USAWA Hall of Fame at the Gold Cup in November. Congratulations Scott – the USAWA is very proud of you!

Scott Schmidt performing the Hang Snatch at the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

The words below are Scott’s words of appreciation:

Greetings, All

I wanted to send this note of appreciation out to express my sincere thanks to all those in our administration and voting members who granted me the privilege of entry into our USAWA Hall of Fame.

I have been competing in our favorite strength sport of weightlifting for many years. I know when our organization set the standards for Hall of Fame eligibility, it was a target I embraced and aspired to achieve. So, I set out on a mission to build my credibility, one contest at a time. Although we all know the work is hard, the satisfaction over rules the pain involved. Slowly but surely, I stayed on course to produce results. Winning results. Record results. The achievements necessary to get to the top. What a journey! When I came to this years National Championships, I was well trained to hit my numbers I set out to do in each lift. But as we all sat down to have our annual meeting, I was totally unprepared when Al Myers announced I have been elected into our Hall of Fame. At that moment in time, I really did get choked up. Big Ol’ Scotty Boy. Speechless. Now there’s a first! After the news sunk in, I felt a great sense of internal pride. Joining the class of great champions, who I compete with and against. What a feeling! As a motivational summary to those of you who enjoy competing, take my advice:

Set your goals high, and good things will happen. It may take a little time, but when you hit your target, the feeling is fantastic!

Stay Strong,

Scott A. Schmidt

Hall of Fame Biography – Bill Clark class of 1999

Bill Clark

William Merle Clark was born in Clinton, Missouri on August 18th, 1932.  He graduated from Clinton High School in 1949, and then spent three years in the U.S. Army (1951-1954), including a year in Korea.  Bill graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1958, and worked briefly on the sports desk of the Lexington Kentucky Leader.  He returned to Columbia Missouri in 1958, where he has lived since.  Bill married Dolores Denny on August 11th, 1955 and they have five children and five grandchildren. He was a full-time major league baseball scout for 36 years (1968-2003).  He retired from baseball at the end of the 2003 season and has been a columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune since March of 2004.  Bill has written for numerous baseball publications through the years and even worked as a sports reporter in the baseball off-season.  He has officiated over 20 sports from the junior high school level to the international level from 1949 until today.  He wrote the original Powerlifting and All-Round Weightlifting rule books and is currently writing a book about the fun of officiating more than 10,000 athletic contests.  As a member of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) weightlifting committee (1959-1990), he was responsible for the origin of the following:

- Powerlifting as a separate sport (1964)
- Masters lifting, both Olympic Lifting and Powerlifting (1973)
- Held the first womens only Powerlifting and Olympic meets which gave the   start to women’s competitive lifting (1976)
- Introduced prison weightlifting and the acceptance of inmates as full AAU members (1966). Held the first prison weightlifting postal competition (1962)
- Created the odd lifting record book (1961)
- Formation of the USAWA and the IAWA (began in 1983, finalized in 1986)
- Wrote the first USAWA and IAWA Rule Book (1986)

Bill started weightlifting in 1959 when his boxing team was looking for an off-season sport.  There was not a state meet at the time, so he held the very first one in Columbia in 1959.  He held the Junior Nationals and the National Teenage Championships in Columbia from 1962-1964, including the “Mr.” contests for each, along with numerous state and regional meets both in Columbia and in many prisons throughout the Midwest.  He has directed over 100 meets under USAWA sanction at his gym, Clark’s Championship Gym, including the USAWA National Championships in 1995, 1997, and 2001.  Bill has been the sole sponsor of the Showme State Games Powerlifting Meet since 1988.  Both Bill and Dolores are in the Missouri State Games Volunteer Hall of Fame.  He has had a commercial gym in Columbia since 1987, which is one of very few commercial gyms in the country that specializes in All-Round Weightlifting.   Bill was the first President of the IAWA and has been the Secretary of the USAWA since the beginning. He is responsible for starting the drug testing program and the certification of officials in the USAWA.  Bill has published a weightlifting newsletter since 1960, and is now nearing his 50th year!  The past 19 years have been devoted to the all-rounds, with his publication “The Strength Journal” being the sole source of information regarding All-Round Weightlifting in the US.   Bill’s main contribution to weightlifting  was the origin of the masters program.  The idea came to the table in 1973 at the AAU convention, and was approved by a laugh with the mention of old people wanting  to lift and compete.  In 1974, only four lifters  entered the National Masters Meet – Jim Witt, Jack Lano, Wilbur Miller, and Bill Clark.  The Meet was cancelled that year.  In 1975, the meet was held in Columbia with 15 entries.  Today, the masters program is found in 70 nations and accepted without question.  Master lifters outnumber open lifters in the US today.  Bill was one of a half-dozen people who brought Powerlifting to the committee floor of the AAU in 1962, and saw it approved two years later as a sport by the AAU.  Today, Powerlifting has expanded far beyond Olympic Lifting as a sport.  In 1976, Bill violated the IWF rules which limited lifting to males only, and worded a sanction which made a combined Power/Olympic lifting competition into an all-female meet.  It broke the gender barrier and women’s weightlifting was off and running.  Bill commented, “In retrospect, I take pride in being the driving force to establish Powerlifting, women’s lifting, prison lifting, master’s lifting, odd lifting – and seeing them all grow and prosper.”  Bill holds over 200 records in the USAWA, with most of them occurring after multiple joint replacements. Bill said, “I do take pride in my hip and harness lifts that were done after four joints – both knees and both hips – were totally replaced and being able to remain competitive with the youngsters in the finger lifts. Age and replacements have slowed the competitive urge today, particularly with the loss of cartilage in both the upper and lower spine.”  In his earlier years, Bill was best known and seldom beaten in the Zercher and Steinborn lifts, once doing 460# in the Zercher and 455# in the Steinborn on the same day.  There has not been an USAWA member since capable of doing this.  When asked if he had any special memories of a competition, Bill replied, ” The one I most remember was in 1994 in Middletown  Pennsylvania when I made a hip lift with 1400 pounds, less than five months after I had a double joint replacement – the right knee and the right hip on the the same day – a double only a few have tried!”  Bill Clark will always be known as the “Founder of All-Round Weightlifting”, and his influences and contributions to the iron game will forever be felt.  His last comment was this, “It has been a good 50 year run in the weight game. I’m now looking for time to go through voluminous files and to do a book I’ve promised myself for years, titled, An Irreverent History of Weightlifting.”

Hall of Fame Biography – Dale Friesz class of 2002

Dale E. Friesz was born on July 30th, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri. As the son of a career Army Colonel he traveled a lot as a youth. His family spent two tours in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.. Dale has lived at the same address for the past 35 years – 11523 Wild Acre Way, Fairfax Station, Virginia, 22039-2117.

Dale did his undergraduate and graduate work at George Washington University in Washington D.C.. He spent 11 years as Director of Human Resources for Fairfax County before taking over the family owned shooting sports business.  He ran it for 21 years until his retirement.

Dale has been married to Penny for 43 years. They have three beautiful children – Pamela, Mark and Karen. They also have a great son-in-law Mark, one lovely daughter-in-law Christine, and two beautiful grand children Ansley and Cody. Dale believes his family is his greatest treasure.

Dale Friesz at age 19

Dale learned about Olympic lifting from his older brother Leonard. Dale taught himself to be an Olympic lifter. It was at the 1960 National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships at the University of Maryland that he first met fellow USAWA Hall of Famer, John Vernacchio. In 1963, at the Junior Nationals in Columbia, Missouri he was introduced by his older brother to Bill Clark.  In preparation for entering Bill Clark’s Masters Olympic Weightlifting at age 39, he again started Olympic lifting. Dale stayed with that style of competition until back and shoulder problems put him on the shelf at age 45.

210 pound Snatch at age 19 at the 1960 National Collegiate Championships

Dale was inspired by Bill Clark’s writings to join the USAWA and is a charter member. The bug to lift again took hold and against medical advice (birth defect in back and a bad shoulder) he entered his first all-round meet in 1989.  He has won 18 Masters National Championships, and has placed in several open all-round competitions – which includes the Zercher Meet, the Heavy Lift Championships, and the Deadlift Dozen. Dale has created more than 150 USAWA records.

Dale attempting a 360 pound One Hand Deadlift at age 54 (85 kg class)

Dale is most proud of his Right Hand Deadlift of 353.6 pounds at age 52 in the 85 kilogram class and his Neck Lift of 605 pounds at age 55 in the 85 kilogram class. When these lifts were made they were not only masters records but also open records. Dale also like all the Finger Deadlifts and holds a wide range of records in each weight class from 75 kg to 90 kg.  He received the Francis D. Ciavattone Sr. AWARD FOR COURAGE in 2003.

Dale doing a heavy Neck Lift

Since 2002 Dale has spent nearly as much time in the hospital with a variety of life threatening issues as he has spent trying to train. Yet as recently as May 2009 he did a 405 pound Neck Lift record at age 68 in the 85 kilogram class at the Heavy Lift National Championships.

Dale believes, as does his primary physician, that weightlifting is responsible for him being alive. Dale thanks Bill Clark for having the sagacity to create masters weightlifting competition!!!

Hall of Fame Biography – John Vernacchio class of 1996

John Vernacchio performing a Front Squat.

John Vernacchio was born in 1936 and grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania where he still resides today. He attended Holy Savior Catholic Elementary School and graduated from Bishop High School in 1956. He attended Shippinsburg State University where he played football while attaining his degree. After graduation in 1961, he finished his education at Temple University where he earned his Masters degree in Exercise Physiology. John taught High School for several years and coached football. He has also coached football at the College and minor pro league level. At the present time, John is working as a rehabilitation therapist for a Chiropracter. John has two grown sons – John born in 1962 and Jeffrey born in 1965. John lives in Texas and has two daughters. Jeff lives in Pennsylvania with one son. Both received B.S. degrees from Westchester State University. John started training when he was 13 years old at the local YMCA and began competing in weightlifting in 1957 with friends Richard Durante and Domenic DeSanto. John Vernachio-DLFB.JPGwon his first National title in 1961 at the National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships. He continued to train under the direction of James Messer at the Holy Savior Weightlifting Club. John got his start in Olympic lifting, but eventually competed in powerlifting for many years for the Valley Forge Weightling/Powerlifting Club. John was one of the charter members of the USAWA, being involved since the beginning in 1987. He was introduced to the USAWA by Bill Clark. John has served two terms as President of the USAWA, and one term as Vice President of IAWA. He has promoted several National and International competitions throughout the years. He has promoted three National Meets – in 1988, 1989, and 2004. John has the destinction of being the Meet Director of the very first National Meet (1988). He has promoted three World meets – in 1989, 1991, and 1997. He also promoted the 2003 Gold Cup. His favorite lifts are the military press and the squat. Even though John has won numerous weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round meets through the years, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he replied, “My biggest accomplishment was to see both my sons graduate from College.” John Vernacchio displays every quality a Hall of Famer should possess – excellence with the iron and excellence in life.

John Vernacchio deadlifting with a Fulton Bar.

Hall of Fame Biography – Steve Schmidt class of 1993

Steve Schmidt holds the All-Time record in the USAWA in the Back Lift, with a lift of 3050 pounds.

Steve Schmidt was born on August 22nd, 1955 in Franklin County Missouri. He still lives there and is self-employed in the fertilizer business and as a farmer. Steve is married with two grown sons and 3 grandchildren. He started lifting in 1977 as a powerlifter. He got involved with the USAWA from the very beginning. In fact, he held the very first membership card issued. Steve has spent most of his time training at home in an old building with no heat, electricity or doors, but at times trains at Clark’s Gym in Columbia Missouri and represents Clark’s Gym when he competes. Steve was the Overall Best Lifter at the first two National Meets in 1988 and 1989. He was the Open Best Lifter in 1991. He was the Overall IAWA Best Lifter at the 1989 World Championships in Plymouth Meeting Pennsylvania. He has promoted the Backbreaker Meet 7 times, which consists of the Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift, in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was held at his farm. Today, Bill Clark hosts this meet at his gym every year and it is now named the Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon, after Steve. He has won the Backbreaker 14 times and the Zercher Meet 8 times. Steve’s favorite lifts are the Harness Lift, Back Lift and Teeth Lift. He holds the overall USAWA record in the Harness Lift at 3515 pounds and the overall USAWA record in the Back Lift at 3050 pounds. Steve holds nearly every repetition record in the Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift. He holds the Total Poundage record using the Back Lift, doing 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours and 50 minutes!! He also holds the Teeth Lift record with a lift of 390 pounds, with his hands held behind his back! Steve has also done numerous strength shows in which he pulls heavy loads with just his teeth!! He is also a World Class Bender and has performed at the AOBS Banquet where he did 10 repetitions in the Hip Lift with 1800 pounds! Steve has very calm demeanor when he lifts and often makes impossible lifts look remarkably easy. When asked why he likes all-round lifting, Steve replied, “It’s the best!!” Steve has always been a man of few words and just lets his outstanding lifting accomplishments speak for themselves.

Hall of Fame Biography – Art Montini class of 1993

Art Montini performing an One Arm Deadlift.

Art Montini was in the inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees – and rightfully so. Art is the most decorated all-rounder in USAWA history, having won overall best lifter at four National Championships (1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995). He was born October 11th, 1927 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. After graduating from High School, Art joined the Navy in 1945 and served our country in WWII aboard a naval ship. After his military service, he went to work in a steel mill in which he continued until retirement. Art’s early sport activities included playing “sandlot” baseball, and even some semi-pro football. Art started lifting weights when he was 20 years old. At first, he competed in Oylmpic lifting. But once he got started competing in all-round weightlifting that was his focus from then on. Art’s favorite lifts are the Steinborn and all of the chain lifts. However, he trains all of the all-round lifts at different times in his workouts. Art is one of only two lifters that has over 300 USAWA records!! Art is a member of the Ambridge V.F.W. Barbell Club and does all of his training there. He has competed in over 100 all-round weightlifting meets!!!! You can always count on Art being at the National Championships. He has even been involved in the promotion of the National Championships, being the Co-Meet Director of the Nationals in 1991 and 1999 in Ambridge. Art is an outstanding official as well, both at the National level and at the World level.

Art is a master of the Heavy Lifts. In this picture he is performing a Hip Lift.

When asked what he enjoys about the USAWA, he replied, “I really enjoy competing with other lifters. I’ve made many great friends at all of the meets.” In 1988, Art was selected to the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Art lives in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and still competes in all-round weightlifting meets even though he is over 80 years of age!! He even celebrates his birthday every year by hosting Art’s Birthday Bash, an all-round weightlifting meet, on his birthday.

Hall of Fame Biography – Jim Malloy class of 1996

Jim Malloy performing a Clean and Press.

Jim Malloy was born July 7th, 1941 and currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Following High School graduation, Jim went to work in a steel mill where he has worked for over 47 years. He has been married to his wife, Sandy, for over 45 years. They have one daughter, Tracey, who now lives in Texas. Jim started out with Olympic Weightlifting in 1968, and then got involved with the USAWA in April of 1990 after being introduced to all-round weightlifting by Bob Karhan. Jim spends most of his training time lifting in his garage. When asked if there were any lifters that inspired him in all-round weightlifting, Jim named two great lifters – Howard Prechtel and Art Montini. Jim worked out with Howard quite often, and often helped Howard in the promotion of several competitions, which included a National Championship, a World Championship and several Gold Cups. Jim is a true all-rounder with his lifting and has set USAWA records in many lifts that are very different from each other. Jim has done a 400# Front squat, a 400# one handed Deadlift, a Continental to Chest and Jerk of 300#, and a 420# Zercher Lift. I should also mention that these were all done after the age of 50!!!! Jim has set over 100 USAWA records and has lifted in close to 100 competitions. Among his greatest accomplishments in the USAWA was winning overall Best Lifter at the National Championships in 1997. He was the Master’s Best Lifter in 1994 and 1997 at the National Championships. He has also won many Championships in his age and weight class. Another thing that is very impressive is Jim has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 12 National Championships!!!! He has also placed in the top six in 4 IAWA World Championships, with his best placing being 3rd Overall in 1995. When asked what he likes about the USAWA, Jim replied, ” I have lifted in several other weightlifting organizations, but nothing compares to the people I have met in the USAWA.” Jim is a great Champion and role model in the sport of All-Round Weightlifting.

Jim Malloy performing a Jefferson Lift.

Hall of Fame Biography – Frank Ciavattone class of 1996

Frank Ciavattone performing a One Arm Hack Lift at the 2005 USAWA National Championships. Frank has the top USAWA lift of All-Time in this lift at 402 pounds.

Frank Ciavattone lives in Walpole, Massachusetts. He is a self-employed Excavator Contractor two-thirds of the season and a Heavy Snow Remover the remaining time. He started to lift weights after he received a 75lb. weight set for Christmas in 1966. Frank’s uncle Ralph was a bodybuilder in the early 1950’s who placed 5th in the 1951 Mr. Boston Contest. Frank’s dad was a Marine during the Korean War and was a Power Shovel operator (steam shovel). These two men were Frank’s early inspiration to take up weight training.

Frank trained for many years (1971 to 1988) with his coach Joe Mills of The Central Falls Weightlifting Club in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Frank started out doing some Olympic lifting but soon found out that he had tremendous potential with All-Round Weightlifting. It was at this time that he got help from Bill Clark, John Vernacchio, and Howard Prechtel – all of which were very accomplished and experienced All-Round Weightlifters. Frank was a charter member of the USAWA, and competed in the organization from the start. Frank is a very sincere and honest person who always gives thanks to those who help him. He commented, ” John & Howard gave me endless phone time on educating me how to do a lot of the lifts before upcoming contests. I can not leave without mentioning Frank Gancarz and Ed Jubinville (both deceased) who played a big part in making me feel Allround lifting was just as important as life itself! To these MEN I truly admire and respect and I thank them from the bottom of my HEART! ”

Frank Ciavattone was the first American to ever lift the Dinnie stones unassisted. He performed this amazing feat in 1995.

Frank was also involved in meet promotions. He was the Meet Director for several National Championships (1996 and 1998) and World Championships (1993 and 2000) in both All-Round Weightlifting and The Heavy Lifts. His most memorable All-Round meet was definitely the 1st one in 1993, in his home town of Norwood/Walpole, Massachusetts. Frank had his family, friends, the towns people, and lifters from other countries all together in one meet. Frank said, “With that combination it was a week of comradeship, competitiveness, and support. The rest was a true celebration of what this sport is by bringing a half dozen countries together as human beings. This is a time I will always cherish in my heart.” One of his most cherish meet wins was winning the Outstanding Lifter Title at the 2005 World Heavy Lift Championships in front of his home town Norwood/Walpole. Regarding this, Frank said, “I was in the 275lb. class. I gave the award to my daughter Domenique. That was a Hallmark moment for me.”

Frank has lifted overseas in 6 World Championships and 1 Millennium Gold Cup for a total of 7 trips. When in Scotland at the 1995 IAWA World Championships Frank achieved something no other American had ever done previously. This story is best told in his own words, “The Dinnie Stones story got started by Willie Wright and his team wanting me to go north and give them a try! They offered to take time off from work and take me. For this I said yes and would give it my best shot. Well after lifting in 2 day competition with 10 lifts at the 1996 World Championships, and the 9th lift being a 507lb. right hand- 1 arm deadlift, I was beat. After the meet we all got ready for the banquet, which anyone who’s ever lifted in Scotland know their banquets are right up there with the best of them. Well around midnight Willie informed me that the mini-bus was leaving at 5 a.m. sharp, tomorrow morning with about a 4 or 5 hour drive. The next day everything goes on schedule and we arrive there with a full mini-bus. I never saw the stones in person before but have to say I was overwhelmed at them. They were both chained to the wall, and it was drizzling out. Everything had a film of water over it, and the marble size piece of chalk I brought was disintegrated. So I found an area not so wet and dug my hands through the dirt to dry them up and it helped. At this point I picked up the little stone right and left, then I did the same to the big stone. Well now I thought I did it. They all yelled NO – do the 2 stones together. Since they were chained to the wall I decided to keep my 2 feet together since the stones were close to the wall. It was hard for me to straddle them and definitely too tight to have one on each side. So finally on my 1st. attempt I reached down and slowly stood up, and stood there while Willie Wright gave his down signal. I was in another world as I felt like I could not put them down. I got an IAWA World record certificate and the honors of being the 1st. US citizen to lift up the stones without straps or other assistance. Also to be one of few to lift them feet together. I am not sure who the others are. The truth to all this is I lifted them fatigued, never seen them before, and never trained to lift them. No excuses – just got of the bus and within 5 minutes lifted both of the ground. I did it my way!!!!!!”

Frank Ciavattone and his All-Time Record in the One Arm Deadlift, with a lift of 562 pounds.

Franks favorite lifts are the three Ciavattone lifts, the One Arm Deadlift and the Neck Lift. He also excelled at these lift and set many USAWA records in them. His records are One Arm Hack Lift -right hand 402 1/5 pounds, One Arm Deadlift – right hand 562 1/5 pounds, One Arm Ciavattone Lift – right hand 331 pounds, Neck Lift 808 pounds, Hand and Thigh 1610 pounds, and a Hip Lift of 2515 pounds. Frank has won 15 IAWA World Championships, 14 USAWA National Championships, 3 Heavy Lift World Championships, and 5 USAWA Heavy Lift National Championships. Frank was the Overall Best Master lifter at the 1998 National Championships. He has placed in the top 10 Overall at 9 National Championships.

There is more to Frank than just being one of the best All-Round Weightlifters of All-Time. He is a man of integrity and outstanding character. He always is willing to help those who need it, and is the perfect role model for the young generation of lifters. When asked what advice he would have for a new lifer, this is what Frank said, “Stay away from any artificial way of getting ahead. Hard, hard, hard work is what got me to do the best I could without jeopardizing my number one thing in my life, FAMILY. Keep your priorities in the right order. This formula keeps everyone happy and supportive.” I would say this sums up Frank Ciavattone.

Frank is a true Pioneer in the Sport of All-Round Weightlifting. He is the ultimate sportsman by demonstrating that a big man can be very strong without the use of drugs, showing that strength comes from within, and displays the unselfish attitude of always helping out his fellow competitors.

Frank has done 808 pounds in the Neck Lift!

Hall of Fame Biography – Deanna Springs class of 1997

Deanna Springs and Al Springs performing a Team Cheat Curl

Deanna Springs was born in Gallatin, Missouri, daughter of Ray and Gertrude Cook. Deanna was introduced to All-Round Weightlifting by her husband, Al Springs, in 1990. Having no prior sports experience, she quickly developed a love for weightlifting, and trained with Al at their gym. Together, they also promoted several local competitions. Someone else who inspired her to take up weightlifting was Bill Clark. Deanna and Al would often compete in the All-Round Weighlifting competitions that Bill hosted at his gym. Her best National placing was placing 3rd overall at the 1994 USAWA National Championships in East Lake, Ohio. Deanna’s favorite lifts were the Zercher Lift and the Hand and Thigh. Her best Hand and Thigh was 620 pounds. That is how the Deanna Lift, which was named in her honor, came to be – by combining the movements of the Hand and Thigh and the Zercher Lift. Deanna died in 1995. Every year Bill Clark hosts the Deanna Springs Memorial, a meet which features the Deanna Lift.

Hall of Fame Biography – Dennis Mitchell class of 1997

Dennis Mitchell performing his favorite lift - the Bent Press.

Dennis Mitchell was born February 15th, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. He still lives in Cleveland. He was “raised” in the family business of photography, and worked in the family business part time during High School and College. After returning home from two years in the Army, Dennis worked full time with his father until his father retired in 1961. Dennis continued the family’s photography business until he retired in 1995. Dennis has been married to his wife Flossy for close to 48 years. They have two daughters and four grand children. Dennis started lifting in May of 1943. He started out with bodybuilding and some Olympic lifting training. He got involved with the USAWA in 1989. Dennis is very involved in other sports. He also has competed in running, swimming, and Judo. He still competes in Olympic Weightlifting and Masters Swimming. Howard Prechtel, who Dennis has known since 1949, introduced him to All-Round Weightlifting. Dennis remarked, “I’ve always been interested in training the odd lifts, and being part of the USAWA allowed me to enter competitions where these lifts are contested.” During the 1940’s and the 1950’s, Dennis trained at Joe Raymond’s A.C. He now trains at home and has a very complete home gym which is set up for All-Round Weightlifting training. Dennis is a member of the Ohio Olympic Weightlifting committee. He is chairman of the World All-Round Technical Committee. He has held that position for several years. Dennis is also a very active official, having judged at many local, National, and World meets. Dennis was the Co-Meet Director of the 2008 National Championships in Columbus Ohio. He also has helped organize the local portion for six All-Round World Postal Meets. The chain lifts and the Bent Press are his favorite lifts. Dennis has competed in 20 National Meets, 19 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. He has lifted in many states, and overseas in England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand. Dennis has won his weight and age class in 20 National Meets, 17 World Meets, and 6 World Postal Meets. When asked what he likes about All-Round Weightlifting, he replied, “One of the best parts of being involved in the All-Rounds is the people. They are just a super group.”

Dennis Mitchell perfoming the Vertical Bar Deadlift.

Dennis Mitchell perfoming a Bent Press with a dumbbell.

Hall of Fame Biography – Joe Garcia class of 1997

Joe Garcia and his specialty lift - The Hand and Thigh Lift.

Joseph Anthony Garcia was born in Dewitt, Iowa, August 12, 1953. Joe and his wife Cindy started dating the last week of high school, got married August 11, 1973 and currently live in the country near Sturgeon, Missouri on 27 acres with their animals. Joe received a Business Degree with a major in accounting from the University of Iowa and got his first job as an accountant, but has spent the majority of his employed life in software, both as a developer and as a consultant. Joe’s immediate family consists of his wife and himself, a cat and 5 horses. He comes from a large family that had 9 kids. Joe actually started lifting back in the late 70’s when he was a policeman. As part of getting into shape, he got involved with the USAWA in 1987 when he was at a customer’s location and looked out the window and saw a small sign that read ‘Clark’s Championship Gym’. Joe said, “I went over and met Bill, joined the gym and have been a member of both the gym and the USAWA since that time.” Joe has been involved with some sport ever since he was a little kid, from baseball to track, basketball and football in high school, rugby in college, boxing as a cop, and finally Taekwondo in the early eighties, where he received a second degree black belt. Now days, he coaches boxing, lifts and competes in Cowboy Mounted Shooting. When asked who was responsible for getting him involved in all-round weightlifting, Joe replied, “Bill Clark introduced me to the USAWA and I would have to say he is responsible for my having accomplished what I have in the sport.”

Joe lifts both at Clark’s gym and at home. Joe has been the USAWA Record Keeper since the start of the USAWA and still holds that position. Joe was also responsible for designing and starting the USAWA website in the mid 90’s. He has been an official at many meets over the years. Bill and Joe have promoted three USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri (1995, 1997, 2001). He has also helped Bill put on numerous meets at the gym. Joe’s favorite lifts are the big bar lifts, and when asked if there was any record he was the most proud of, he replied, “I would have to say my record of 1910 pounds in the Hand and Thigh Lift is the one I am most proud of.” Joe’s record in the Hand and Thigh of 1910 pounds, which was set in 1997, remains the top Hand and Thigh Lift in history. Joe competed in the first World meet which was held in England, and has competed in several World Championships and National Championships since. Joe has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 10 National Championships, with three third place finishes overall in 2001, 1997, and 1988. He was the top overall Master at the National Championships in 2006 and 2001. He has also won numerous age group Best Lifter Awards at the Nationals. Joe is one of very few lifters who have been with the USAWA from the very beginning who is still competing at the top level – as showed by his most recent placing of 4th overall at the 2009 National Championships. Joe is always helping out new lifters at meets and has done numerous things through the years to promote the USAWA. Joe Garcia sets the standard that all future Hall of Famers should aspire for.

Hall of Fame Biography – Denny Habecker class of 1997

Denny Habecker performing a Zercher Lift.

Denny was born and raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and has lived there all but 3 years of his life. His father was always involved in sports when Denny was growing up, and Denny has continued that tradition. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1960 and got a job at Bayer Corporation in 1964 and worked there until his retirement in August, 2008. He got married in 1964 to Judy Gensemer. Judy is now a retired R.N. and they have one son who is an elementary school principal. His son and daughter-in-law have given them 3 grandsons that they are very proud of.

Denny started lifting in the spring of 1957 to build himself up for high school football. He entered a couple of bodybuilding contests in 1961 and 1962 before deciding weightlifting competitions were more fun. He competed in Olympic lifting competitions, with a few powerlifting competitions thrown in, from 1962 until 1975. Then with family commitments and other sports (volleyball, basketball) taking up his time, he didn’t compete again in weightlifting until 1984. He saw the results of the 1983 National Masters Olympic Lifting Championships and decided to start competing again. Denny entered John Vernacchio’s Eastern Masters and Tri-States Masters competitions every year and became a member of John’s Valley Forge Lifting Team. In 1989 John told him about an all-round weightlifting competition he was having. John talked him into entering it and Denny soon became hooked on all-round weightlifting.

Denny has been in every National All-rounds since 1990, 16 World All-rounds since 1991, and 13 Gold Cups since 1994, competing in Scotland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. In Olympic lifting , he has competed in 24 straight Keystone Games , 21 National Masters, 5 Pan-American Masters, 2 American Masters and 2 World Masters Championships since 1984. He also lifted in the 1992 WPA World Masters Powerlifting Championships. Denny still played volleyball, basketball, and softball in an over 40 league most of those years. He had to give up the other sports two years ago because of an arthritic hip.

Denny now trains at the New York Fitness Club in Lebanon and in his basement gym. He has been on the IAWA technical committee since 2000 and President of the USAWA since 2007. He has promoted the 2000 & 2007 USAWA Nationals, 2002, 2005 & 2009 IAWA World’s, 2006 & 2008 Gold Cup, and the 2004 & 2009 National Heavylift Championships. Denny was inducted into the Lebanon Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 , and in 2009 was given the Kelly Cup Award for his Keystone Games accomplishments . He was the overall best lifter of the 1999 USAWA National Championships and 10 times best lifter in his age group. He has placed in the top 10 in 14 USAWA National Championships and 8 IAWA World Championships. His favorite lifts are the Arthur lift and the Pullover and Push. His 87.5 kilogram Clean and Press with Heels Together, which was done in his first All-round Meet in 1989, is still a record.

Denny Habecker performing a Pullover and Push.

Denny Habecker performing a Hack Lift.

Hall of Fame Biography – John McKean class of 1999

John McKean deadlifting.

John was born on December 15th, 1945 and has been competing in weightlifting for over 45 years, starting in 1962. He started as a lifter primarily as a powerlifter, but also has competed in master’s olympic lifting, having won two US National titles. However, all-round weightlifting soon captivated his attention and he has devoted all of his efforts toward all-round training and competition since its inception. John is a retired teacher (32 years in Jr. High math), a

John McKean performing a 2 bar deadlift.

retired martial arts instructor (American Combatives for individuals and airline crews), and a retired weightlifter. John has won so many National and World Meets that he has lost count!!! One accomplishment that he has done that is hard to top is that he went for over 20 years never losing a meet in his age and weight division! He presently has over 125 USAWA and IAWA records on the books. His earliest all-round weightlifting inspirations came from the great National and World Meets that John Vernacchio promoted, followed by the tremendous atmosphere that Frank Ciavattone created in his National and World Meets. John said, “These guys worked so hard to insure that everyone enjoyed themselves and they provided the absolute best conditions to do top notch lifting!! Their meets were more like great workouts with good friends than the usual cut and dry weightlifting competitions. Just big parties, really!!!”. John has served as an official at many meets, and served a term as the IAWA international secretary. He has wrote extensively about all-round weightlifting training methods in Hardgainer magazine and MILO. He has been involved in the promotion of several National Meets which includes being the meet director at two National Championships in Ambridge with Art Montini, and being the

John McKean performing a Hip Lift.

co-director at the two National Meets at Jumpstretch Fitness in Youngstown, Ohio. John has received much personal satisfaction from the great time he has had getting his two sons, Sean and Rob, involved in the USAWA along with many of his school students. One of his biggest thrills in lifting was being probably the only teacher to establish an official class for all-round weightlifting in the public school system. For four years he was given the state’s mandate (IEP) to take over the complete physical education of a legally blind student by the name of Matt Van Fossan. Matt, under John’s coaching, really took to lifting and established several teen National and World Records and even won a National Championship!!! These days John trains at home, still writes a bit, and lives near Pittsburgh with his wife of 40 years, Marilyn. He is still very involved in the lives of his two grown sons, Rob and Sean.

Hall of Fame Biography – Howard Prechtel class of 1993

The Life of Howard Prechtel

by Dennis Mitchell

Howard Prechtel and one of his favorite lifts - the Hip Lift

Back in the late 1940’s Howard Prechtel was competing in Olympic Lifting. At that time it was the only way to compete. However, his real love in lifting was the odd lifts. That was what the All-Round lifts where called then. As power lifting became more popular he competed in that also. With the organizing of All-Round lifting Howard was in his true element. He still competed in both Olympic and Power lifting, while competing in All-Round meets, setting many National and World records. Besides competing he was active as a referee and meet promoter for both National and World meets. He organized the Gold Cup Record Day, which has become an annual event. For many years he held the Buckeye Record Day every February. He has been both the National and World President. Howard is also known for his ability as a “Bone Setter”. Though he had no formal training, he learned his skills from a fellow lifter who was a medical professor, and taught him the art of manipulation.

Howard Prechtel in his earlier days competing in Olympic Weightlifting

Here are some of Howard’s lifting accomplishments. At age 52, he did a Harness lift of 1,910 pounds for 22 reps in 30 seconds. At age 57, he broke Warren Travis’ record set in 1927, by lifting 1,111 pounds 5,460 times in 3 hours and nine minutes. What lift? The Travis lift! At age 62, he did a Roman Chair sit up with 908 pounds. At age 70, he did 105 reps in 75 seconds with 1,102 pounds, in the Travis lift. Other than his lifting accomplishments Howard was a decorated Marine in the second world war, where he served for four years in the Pacific. He took part in several invasions and was wounded twice. He seldom talked about this except that it was very horrible and it was best left in the past.

Al Myers Inducted into the RMSA Hall of Fame

by Thom Van Vleck

Al Myers receiving the RMSA Hall of Fame Award Picture Left to Right: Thom Van Vleck, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom

I recently was contacted by Greg Bradshaw of the Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletes (RMSA) and asked if I would do the honors of inducting our own Al Myers into the RMSA Hall of Fame. They asked that I do it at the McPherson Scottish Highland Games in McPherson, Kansas. Al was the Athletic Director of this games for many years and built it into one of the premier Scottish Games in the Midwest. In 2007, Al hosted the Scottish Masters World Championships in McPherson. I presented a speech for Al and in it are things I think you should all know about him and that his involvement in Strength Sports goes far beyond the USAWA. Al has had quite a career as an athlete and going into the RMSA Hall of Fame (there has been only 6 inductees in over 30 years) is a just reward for a great athlete and friend.

The following is my speech:

We are here today to honor Al Myers and induct him in the RMSA Hall of Fame.

Al is a veterinarian and his family includes his Wife – Leslie of 23 years, and three daughters – Emily, Katie, and Molly. Al has always counted on their support.

As a competitor, Al started in the Highland Games in 1987 at the age of 20. He retired in 2005, after 19 years of competition. During that time he competed in over 200 Highland Games and over 100 Powerlifting Meets. Al competed as a professional Highland Games athlete for 10 years, from 1990 to 2000. He held the American Record in the 16# Sheaf toss in 1995, with a height of 35 feet (which is when I first met him). His best throws in the Highland Games were 16lb Sheaf 35 feet, 20# Sheaf 31 feet, Open Stone 48 feet, Bramaer Stone 38 feet, LWFD 81 feet, HWFD 41 feet, 16# Hammer 130 feet, 22# Hammer 108 feet, and WOB 15’11”. Al’s favorite and best event was the Caber Toss – an event he always placed high in. He has won over 100 Caber Competitions in his Highland Game career. Al was a 6 time Rocky Mountain athlete of the year – from the years 1991 to 1996 and held several RMSA records. As if this weren’t enough: Al also had a whole other athletic career in powerlifting. He was a 12 time state champion, 3 time collegiate National Champ and 7 time National Champion.

You would think the guy might want to take a break, but Al has continued on in another sport: The United States All-Round Weightlifting Association. He just recently was awarded Overall Best Lifter at this past year’s National Championships. He has won 6 All-Round National Championships since “Retiring” from the highland games, and was the Overall Best Lifter in three of these. He has won 3 All-Round World Championships, and was the Overall Best Lifter in the 2006 World Championships, which was held in Glasgow, Scotland. At the awards banquet following this competition he wore his Kilt to honor Scotland and the Scottish Games.

But Al was NOT just an Athlete. He was the Kansas representative to the Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletic organization for over 10 years. He was responsible for introducing many new throwers to the Highland Games and helped in getting new games started in other areas (including mine). Al has spent countless hours training new throwers at his gym, the DINO GYM, which is fully equipped as a Highland Games training complex! He has promoted several training Games at his place through the years to help build interest for the Highland Games athletics.

Today, even though he is retired as a thrower, Al is still very involved in coaching and promoting games. He just recently promoted the very first Highlander Nationals – which is a combination of Highland Game events and Strongman events.

But perhaps more importantly to those here today, he was the first athletic director of the McPherson Highland Games, and performed in that capacity until 2007. In his last year as athletic director of the McPherson Games, he hosted the Masters World Highland Games Championships.

Now, you might be thinking at this point that Al is Ten feet tall, weighs two tons, eats hammers and nails, and can take a shot gun blast standing…..his hammer actually travels faster than a speeding bullet, his run up on the Caber can derail a locomotive, and his WOB could clear the Empire State building……and those are his warm ups….

But joking aside, the reality is, Al is one of us and never made any of us feel any less. Scottish games are built on kith and kin, friends and family. Athletes used to participate knowing that the next day they might be called to fight side by side. Al very much embodied that friendship and made all of us that came after him feel like part of the highland games family. Al’s impact goes far beyond what I’ve talked about today. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition and it’s a standard that I know many of us here want to maintain. Thanks, Al, and may God continue to Bless you and your family for many years to come.