Frank Ciavattone GRAND BEST LIFTER

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone (middle) being awarded the GRAND BEST LIFTER of the USAWA. Presenters included USAWA Vice President Chad Ullom (left) and USAWA Secretary Al Myers (right).

One of the really important awards presented at the 2012 IAWA World Championships went to Frank Ciavattone. Frank was awarded the GRAND BEST LIFTER of the 25 year history of the USAWA.  This awarded was intended to be presented to Frank at the USAWA Nationals, but since he was unable to attend that meet I waited till Worlds to bestow him the recognition that he has rightly earned.  This award was based on Franks competition history at past USAWA National Championships. Frank has competed at the USAWA Nationals since the practical beginning, and in that time has acquired more National Records than anyone else!  To date he has 45 National Records!!!  That’s alot!!!  It will take someone of longterm persistence and great ability to overtake this record count of Franks. 

Congratulations Frank!  It was my honor to be part of this presentation.

25 Year Promotion Award

by Al Myers

USAWA President Denny Habecker and the "first Lady of the USAWA" Judy Habecker receiving the 25 Year Promotion Award.

Another “special award” presented at Nationals was the 25 Year Promotion Award.  This award went to the 4 Meet Promoters who have promoted the most National Championships over the 25 year history of the USAWA.  These 4 promoters each have promoted 3 Championship events.  They are:  Denny and Judy Habecker (2010, 2007, & 2000), John Vernacchio (2004, 1989, & 1988), Bill Clark and Joe Garcia (2001, 1997, & 1995), and Art Montini and John McKean (2002, 1999, & 1991). 

So to sum it up – these 4 promoters together have promoted about HALF of the National Champinships to date!  That’s worthy of a special award in my book!  Congratulations!!!

Awards as Motivation

by Al Myers

This is part of the collection of awards present in Clark's Gym.

I have been in numerous club gyms, and one thing that sets them apart from commercial “chrome and fern” gyms is that there is always an abundance of old trophies, medals, plaques and award certificates hanging around.  Some of these places have awards that are over 30 years old!  Yet, they still bask in their glory of being visible for all gym members to see, as the day they were shiny new.  I always marvel at these old awards, and take the time to check all of them out.  I wonder, “who won this one?, and “what competition did this one come from?”.  This is a sight full of mystery, but at the same time gives you the burning desire of motivation. Anyone who has won an award knows the satisfaction that it brings, and not because of the hardware itself, but the hard work that goes into earning it.  The time in the gym pushing those extra sets, and the commitment and sacrifice training time takes away from the rest of your life.  If it was just the trophy that gave you this fulfillment – go out and buy yourself a big trophy and put wording on it proclaiming yourself the greatest weightlifter of all time!!  I assure you – that award would not mean near as much as the tiny certificate that you won the day you had a personal record lift.

In the Dino Gym I have a large collection of old weightlifting, strongman, and Highland games awards placed on a mantel overlooking the gym.  This mantel runs the entire width of the gym – 40 feet.  Most awards are “double stacked” on this shelf.  I haven’t counted them but it has to be well over 100 trophies. The funny thing is that I have at least that many in boxes in the attic!  When the mantel was full, I had to call it good.  When I first put up this trophy mantel, my wife referred to it as “my shrine” to myself.  I tried to let it slide, but her comment really hurt my feelings (even to this day and that has been a dozen years ago!).  That was not my intention.  I wanted to have a gym that any lifter would take serious when they enter the doors. I wanted us to not just “talk the talk, but walk the walk”.   Displaying hard-earned awards shows a gym newcomer that we are serious about what we do – and that we have the proof to back up what our training is all about. 

The trophy case in the Ambridge Barbell Club.

Most all of the other USAWA Clubs have a “trophy wall” as well.  Last November at the Gold Cup, Frank Ciavattone took me down into his basement which holds Franks Barbell Club.  I was overwhelmed by his collection of trophies and such.  Just a quick glance at this, and ANYONE would know  that Frank was a Champion.  As we browsed through things, Frank had a story on each award.  To him – these trophies were mementos that held a collection of memories from the competitions he has been in.  I have been to the historic Ambridge BBC a few times now, and each time I spend a little time looking over their collection.  Their collection is a lesson in weightlifting history – some awards date back 40-50 years.  The JWC Training Hall has many very unique awards.  Thom has on display some awards that were won by previous JWC members.  Truly a compliment to those that had a significant part of  the JWC history.  Clark’s Gym is another gym that has a great display of awards that is rich in history.  As you look over Clark’s Gym extensive collection of awards, it is a true inspiration.   I could go on with several other examples like these.

The point I want to leave you with is that it is not egotistical to display awards if done for the right reasons.  If it motivates one young kid to change their life by forming a commitment to training and physical fitness that keeps them out of trouble, it is worthwhile!   But now I gotta go – it’s time to polish my shrine!!!  (haha – THAT’S A JOKE!!)

USAWA Nationals: The AWARDS

Special awards for the USAWA Nationals for 2011 (purchased at pjtool.com)

by Thom Van Vleck

The USAWA Nationals for this year will have a unique award for the participants.  The Jackson Weightlifting Club (JWC) had long been defined by Grandpa Jackson’s Anvil.  For the last few years I have used these real anvils for awards.  Each award will come with a CUSTOMIZED plaque engraved by a Jim Spalding (Jim’s Gems) who is a local jeweler and also happens to be a 6 time Masters World Champion in Highland Games.   When the results are tabulated, we will write down you address and send you an engraved plate that will fit on the award with your placing and name.  How many personalized awards do you have in you trophy case?  I bet not many!  There will also be an 11lb Anvil for the overall best lifter.  Again, it’s a REAL anvil.

The “Original” JWC anvil will be present as well and used in the strongman show at the awards banquet.  We will take it outside and give anyone who wants a crack at lifting the anvil like Grandpa Jackson used to from the ground to overhead.  It is a 150lb Anvil and it’s very “doable”!  The real challenge is to lift it by the horn with one hand, pinch grip it by top or lift it by the neck.

Grandpa Jackson's Anvil - The Centerpiece of the Jackson Weightlifting Club

I will also have a 300lb anvil present….This is the MONSTER that so far has defied all who have tried to lift it overhead.  I want to see someone put that thing overhead!  But at the least, We will have the Whiskey Barrel there and the challenge is to lift the anvil onto the whiskey barrel.   Come on out, the USAWA Nationals will be more than just lifting weights…..we will try and make some history!