Dino Gym: 2011 Club of the Year

by Al Myers

The centerpiece of the Dino Gym.

The nomination & voting period is over  for the 2011 USAWA yearly awards, to be awarded at the National Championships in several categories for outstanding performances within the USAWA.  I have just finished the tabulations and I am getting ready to contact the awards shop to get the awards made up.  So – I KNOW who the winners are but that’s still a secret until the awards presentation time!  But there is ONE AWARD that is announced ahead of time – the USAWA Club of the Year.  The reason it’s announced early is that it is really not a “mystery” as to who the winner is as this is the one award that is based on generating points instead of votes.  I have outlined this point system several times in the past so I won’t “rehash” all that now.  What I’m trying to say is this – anyone can add up the points on their own as ALL of the information is available on the website to do so, thus this winner is “no mystery”.

No club can win an award like this based on one individuals performance or effort.  It takes contributions of several.  I want to thank EVERYONE who was part of CLUB DINO GYM this past year, because this is EVERYONE’S AWARD.  I was VERY pleased how our gym functions were attended by gym members.  For the year 2011, the Dino Gym set a record for the most individual memberships to represent any USAWA club – EVER!  A total of 25 lifters joined the USAWA that listed the Dino Gym as their member club. I want to recognize and thank these lifters now (in alphabetical order): Chris Anderson, Darren Barnhart, Casey Barten, Nolan Berry, Rudy Bletscher, Scott Campbell, Chuck Cookson, Matt Cookson, Tyeler Cookson, Sam Cox, Ben Edwards, Lance Foster, Brian Krenzin, Chris Krenzin, Tyler Krenzin, Cody Lokken, Mark Mitchell, Russ Morton, Al Myers, Emily Myers, Molly Myers, LaVerne Myers, Dean Ross, Scott Tully, and Chad Ullom.

The final standings for the 2011 USAWA CLUB OF THE YEAR (only top 5 listed, for clubs generating over 10 points):

1.  Dino Gym – 56 points

2.  Ledaig Athletic Club – 21 points

3.  Jackson Weightlifting Club – 16 points

4.  Clarks Gym – 14 points

5.  Ambridge Barbell Club – 12 points

As per the original rules for the Club of the Year, the defending USAWA Club of the Year is not eligible the following year, and instead is responsible for “passing the title” at the next year’s awards presentation.  Thus, Habecker’s Gym, the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year, is not in the rankings.

Al Myers: Leadership Award

by Thom Van Vleck

Leadership Award Winners (left to right): Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck

This years leadership award went to Al Myers.  I won’t mention who was 2nd….Ok, maybe it was me.  But I must have been a distant second in the voting because Al had quite a year last year and was well deserving of this honor.

Bill Clark was the heart and soul of the USAWA for many years.  For over 40 years some member of my family was getting his newsletters.  Having done a newsletter myself for several years I KNOW the work and cost involved.  Al took over the secretary job from Bill and has upheld the high standard Bill set.  There is no doubt that for years Bill kept the USAWA going and now that mantle has fallen on Al.  Bill brought his unique skill set to the job and so has Al.  It’s like comparing apples and oranges, each one is great in their own way.  Let’s focus on some of the things that led me to vote for Al, and I’m sure others for the same reason.

First, the website.  Back in the day, I got several newsletters.  They were the way to go.  I can recall when a First Class stamp was 6 cents…now it’s 7 times that amount!  Al realized that newsletters were becoming more and more impractical and a website with daily news on it was a necessity.  He also realized that the news needed to be updated daily so that people who check back daily and keep interest up.  I’m not saying websites are better than newsletters (honestly, I enjoyed the paper in my hand reading it during a workout) it’s just more practical in this day and age.  With the younger people, they are used to fast updates, fresh news, early and often and a website is the only way you are going to do that.  Al also recruited some top notch writers (ahem….) to help him out.  He knew people would get tired of just meet reports, so get in some variety and step outside just USAWA news from time to time.  This has also shown the light of day to quite a few stories that would have never been read otherwise.  One in particular was Larry Traub’s story on “Things I Hate about the Sport I Love”.

Second, getting others involved.  Al contacted me one day and asked if I would be interested in hosting the USAWA Nationals.  He wanted a new location for the meet in the hopes that the variety might help attendance.  I knew this was a big job, but I also knew Al would not leave me hanging so I accepted.  Al has talked many of us into going to meets that we might otherwise not attended.  That’s what leadership is all about.

Third, providing equipment.  Al has produced much of the apparatus needed to perform all the various lifts in his gym.  I wonder how many records have been set at the Dino Gym?  I also wonder how many records have been set on equipment that Al made?  So he not only provides  opportunities for setting records in his own gym he has made equipment that has been used in other gyms to set USAWA records.  For example, last year he had a writing contest and the prize (and several were provided) was a thick DB handle to to the DB walk.

Finally, Al will make you feel good about yourself.  Al is a great friend to many of us and I know I appreciate that.  Often, as lifters, we should be encouraging one another and often we do not do this as much as we should.  I believe Al has encourage many and again that is the mark of leadership.

I am excited to see what will happen to the USAWA under Al’s leadership.  For many years Ol’ Clark kept things going, now Al is keeping things going.  I hope he sticks around a long as Bill did!

Rudy Bletscher & Mike Murdock: Sportsmanship Award

by Al Myers

Rudy Bletscher receiving the Co-Award for sportsmanship. (left to right): Rudy Bletscher, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck. Missing from this picture is the other Sportsmanship Award Winner Mike Murdock.

For this first time ever we had a tie in a vote for an USAWA Special Award, so this year a Co-Award was given on behalf of the USAWA in regards to the Sportsmanship Award.  The two award winners were a great selection, because both of these guys have “gone at it”  in competition with each other this past  year and have done so in a most fitting style, showing utmost sportsmanship towards each other.  The Sportsmanship Award goes to Rudy Bletscher and Mike Murdock.  Mike had to leave early following the banquet before the Awards Ceremony, so I wasn’t able to get his picture taken receiving his Award as I had hoped, but I did get one of Rudy and the surprise look on his face when he received it.  

I have enjoyed watching Mike and Rudy compete against each other throughout this past year.  They are both pretty close in age, bodyweight, and strength so it always makes an interesting competition.  They seem to go “back and forth” in beating each other from one competition to the next, but the both of them always enjoy each others “competitive company” as they do so and don’t seem to mind when they come out on “the short end of the stick”.  These guys understand what its all about, and always seem to really enjoy themselves at meets.  Both of them are tremendously supportive of the other lifters, and it is a pleasure being around them at meets.  One of the things I remember about them from this past year was when they teamed up together to form a duo for Team Nationals.   They were a formidable team!  As they did the team lifts neither one of them wanted to let the other one down so they pushed themselves as hard as I have seen!  I’m hoping they will form a team again this year at Team Nationals.  In fact, I’m going to hold onto Mike’s award till then so maybe I can finally get my picture of them together as Co-Sportsmanship Award Winners of the year!

Dale Friesz: Courage Award Winner

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz receiving the USAWA Courage Award last year. Now Dale will have another Courage Award to add to his collection! (left to right): Al Myers, Dale Friesz

For the second time in two years, Dale Friesz won the Courage Award on behalf of the USAWA.   Dale was the unanimous selection among the membership votes, so it goes to show the respect Dale has amongst the membership of the USAWA.  In fact, if Dale wins this award again next year, it should be renamed the Friesz Courage Award!  Dale really wanted to compete this year at Nationals but due to a training injury a couple weeks prior to the meet was not able to make it.  I know this was a big disappointment for him. I know how tenacious Dale is about competing when he’s not 100%, as I have watched him compete when he probably shouldn’t have been!   This has been a tough year for Dale physically, but he has corresponded with me about his training and how he is still trying to do what he can.  Dale’s attitude  epitomizes the courage it takes to overcome obstactles and continue to lift despite whatever challenges he is faced with.  Without a doubt, most other lifters would have called it quits – but NOT DALE!   I was really glad to see Dale receive this award again because he DESERVES IT.  I just hope that I would have HALF the courage Dale has if I was faced with the same physical training barriers he has been faced with.   Congratulations Dale on behalf of the USAWA, and we all hope to see you again soon on the platform!

Larry Traub: Newcomer Award

by Al Myers

Larry Traub won the voting for the USAWA Newcomer Award. (left to right): Larry Traub, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck.

The Newcomer Award is an award given on behalf of the USAWA to recognize someone who has just become involved in the USAWA.   This year’s Newcomer Award Winner made “a big splash” in the USAWA by not only winning this award, but also the OVERALL BEST LIFTER in his very first USAWA National Championships!  Larry Traub is the man I’m talking about – and remember his name because you will be hearing much more of it in the future!  It wouldn’t be fair of me to call Larry “a rookie” just because he won our Newcomer Award, because Larry’s one of the most experienced lifters I know.  He has been involved in coaching his entire life and has knowledge of the iron-game that few have.  He is a very technical lifter, and I know with a little more time, will become a master of all the All-Round lifts.   He lifts as part of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club, which without a doubt, will be in the running for next years USAWA Club of the Year.  Larry first competed in the USAWA at the USAWA Grip Championships in 2010, and this past spring promoted his first USAWA competition.  Congratulations Larry and welcome to the USAWA!

Chad Ullom: Athlete of the Year

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom was awarded the 2010 USAWA Athlete of the Year at the awards banquet. (left to right): Chad Ullom, Al Myers, & Thom Van Vleck

After our banquet following the National Meet, we had the Awards Ceremony.  Included in this ceremony was the presentation of the Special Awards that were given on behalf of the USAWA to individuals that have shown excellence within the USAWA during this past year.  The recipients of these Special Awards were chosen and voted on by the USAWA membership.   I feel that makes receiving one of these awards all that more special, because you know that your peers in the organization were the ones who chose you.   The “highest award” that the USAWA recognizes is the Athlete of the Year, which is our version of a MVP award.  This year it went to a very deserving lifter – Chad Ullom.   Chad has had an outstanding year of competitions within the USAWA.   He placed second overall at last years National Championship, and then went on to win OVERALL BEST LIFTER at the IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland last fall.  All together, Chad competed in 14 USAWA events during the year 2010.  (YES – that’s 14 events and not a typo!).   There are not very many lifters that compete in that many events over a 5 year period – but Chad did it all in ONE YEAR!  I want to give you a quick run-down of his successes in 2010, and after I do this NO ONE would question why he is our ATHLETE OF THE YEAR.  He started the year off by winning the Dino Gym Challenge  which was the first USAWA event of the year (so he also has the distinction of winning the first meet of the year as well).  After competing in the Grip Challenge and the Dino Gym Record Day, he joined the Dino Gym Team at the Club Challenge in Ambridge and helped out the team to victory.  After this, he competed in a couple of postals (Goddard Postal & Eastern Open) and then onto his second place overall finish at the 2010 National Championships.  After that, he competed in the Ledaig Record Day before competing in Team Nationals, where he was part of the winning overall team.  After his crowning win at the World Championships, he competed in the World Postal Meet as a team member of the Dino Gym (which won the overall team title).  He finished the year off by competing in the JWC Record Breakers (where he set 18 USAWA Records) and then off to the Gold Cup in Boston, and finishing with competing in the National Postal Meet.   Now that’s a resume!! 

Congratulations Chad – you have had a year of successful competitions that would be hard for anyone to follow!

The Club Awards Program

by Al Myers

Dino Gym - 2009 USAWA Club of the Year. Left to Right: Scott Tully, Al Myers, and Mark Mitchell

The USAWA Awards program got off to a great start at the 2010 Nationals with the presentations of the 2009 Awards.  All of these awards, with the exception of the Club Awards, were based on membership nominations and votes.  I determined  the Club Awards using a very simple point system, that recognizes USAWA participation and meet promotions. I like how this system is set up and plan to use it again  for  next year.  I am going  to outline the particulars of it here so there will be no mystery how the Club of the Year is selected for 2010. To be eligible, a club must have paid their club dues for the year and be  listed as “current” on the Member Clubs page. Another stipulation is that the previous year’s Club of the Year is not eligible the following year.  This club will have the honor of presenting the new  Club of the Year Awards at the National Meeting.

Club Awards are determined by adding up club points using this 4-Step System:

1.  One point awarded to the club  for EACH  USAWA registered member that lists the club as their affiliated club on their membership application.  This designation is also listed beside the members name on the membership roster.

2.  Two points awarded to the club for EACH club member that participates in the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup.  Points are awarded for each competition, so if one club athlete competes in all three of these big meets it would generate 6 points for the club.

3.  Three points are awarded to the club for EACH USAWA sanctioned event or competition the club promotes.

4.  Four bonus points are awarded to the club for promotion of the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup.

This is a very simple system yet covers all the basics of a club being involved in the USAWA.  It encourages clubs to host competitions and recruit members to the USAWA.  It gives incentive to clubs to encourage club members to attend our big meets.  Plus – this system will be easy for me to calculate each club’s points at the end of the year since all these things are recorded on the website. I believe the future growth of the USAWA will be driven by clubs.  All it takes is one new club that has an interest in All-Round Weightlifting.  First the club hosts a few local gym meets, second the club gets their lifters involved in these meets,  and third the USAWA grows!   It couldn’t get any more simple than that.

I want to welcome new USAWA member Stephen Santangelo, from Las Vegas Nevada, to the USAWA!