February 19, 2006
L.J. Maile, Ph.D., President
USA Powerlifting, North American Powerlifting Federation
This past weekend the USA Powerlifting Women's Nationals were contested in Denver, Colorado. Meet Director Dan Gaudreau and his crew did a fantastic job of organizing this event. No detail was left undone. From arrival from the airport, to departure when the meet was done this competition highlights everything that is right with USAPL.
Women are a significant part of the membership of USA Powerlifting. The percentage of women and girls varies from about 20% some years to close to 30% others. The USAPL Women's nationals is the single largest "women only" strength event in the world. There is no other place where you can find this many strong women, and their supporters in one place. The atmosphere is both electric but supportive. One of the comments of ALL of my assistant coaches when they come to Women's Nationals is how little drama and self-centeredness there is, and especially the noted absence of "mind games." Those cheering the loudest for an athlete are often her competitors.
Women's Nationals was on the news each day of the competition on the major networks. Two of our competitors, Jennifer Rey and Priscilla Ribic were on the live morning show on the CBS affiliate Sunday morning. And the production crew from the documentary company, Sport H.D. were present at every session interviewing athletes, filming the lifts, and capturing the lifting scene.
There were a number returning champions, and several new ones. Siouxz Hartwig won her 11th Open National Championship, a run that is very likely unequalled in women's lifting. Teenager Bonica Brown won the Open division of the 90 kg. class. Jonna Ocampo won the 48 kg. class and her first trip to the open world championships. Liane Blyne won the 75 kg. class by more than 60 kg. and narrowly missed the American total record. Caitlin Miller, at 15 won her class, now the 56 kg. class and earned yet another berth on an open National Team. And these are just a few of the highlights. All in all, it was a great weekend. There was camaraderie, intense competition, and the usual mixture of distinguished veterans and lifters new to the national stage. THIS is part of what makes the USAPL Women's Nationals one of the greatest athletic events in the country, regardless of sport.
A great deal of talk has been heard on the forums and elsewhere about raw lifting. Some of the concerns are that raw lifting is not allowed in USAPL. That is not true, although there are no American Records kept. Any meet promoter may offer a raw division, or for that matter, at the local level, hold a raw meet. But, let's look at raw for a minute and try to come to what is a reasonable definition.
Raw lifting is held across the country, and within our meets under a variety of conditions. They range from no equipment at all (not even a belt), to competitors using all of the powerlifting equipment with the exception of a bench shirt. These different iterations seem to be based on the sentiments of the athlete involved. Some don't like the new equipment, so continue to use the last generation of gear. Some don't care for assistive shirts, so don't use any. Some don't care for much in the way of supportive gear, so use either belt and wraps, or just a belt. What is the answer though? What should we consider raw?
I would propose that we have some uniformity among those who use less equipment. By the same token, looking at our collegues in Olympic lifting, and other strength pursuits it becomes clear that some equipment is necessary for health reasons. I would, therefore propose that we consider raw lifting as belt, knee and wrist wraps. If this modality of lifting is to occur, let's do it in a way that promotes the most safety for our athletes and will allow the greatest longevity and freedom from injury.
Where we take raw lifting within USA Powerlifting is a matter for the membership to decide. I am sure that there are those who would like to compete raw. I am also sure that the majority of athletes within the federation at present will continue to use equipment. That is especially true if they are competing against those who do use gear. If one makes as his or her objective national or international level competition, it is clear from looking at our peers in nations that limit gear that we place ourselves at a significant disadvantage. In short, you have to train and compete under equipped conditions to succeed in high level competition under those conditions. For that reason, I believe that the majority of athletes will continue to enjoy the use of equipment.
However, if there is an interest among our members in participating in raw events, this is allowed as well. Enjoy! Powerlifting allows each of us to find our niche.
As you all know, the USA Powerlifting National Governing Body meeting is held each year in conjunction with the Men's Nationals. This year's meet will be in Miami, Florida July 7-9. The NGB meeting will be held the 6th.
The NGB meeting is where the Executive reports on the state of USA Powerlifting. Executive Committee positions are filled, and issues related to the governance of USA Powerlifting are discussed. There are two "Board Member" positions to be filled this year (those held by Ray Benemerito and Steve Howard). The Office of President will also be up for election. Nominations for these positions must be received by the USAPL Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 90 days prior to the meeting. This deadline also must be met for bylaw changes. Honorary Awards (Brother Bennet, Coach of the Year) must be received thirty days prior to the meeting.
Please come and participate in the governance of your powerlifting organization.