Acalanes Strong: The Liftathon

By Brady Quinn, Staff Writer

// The weight room shakes with energy as a girls’ volleyball player pushes their maximum bench press. Their team’s support helps the athlete hit a new personal record.

   The Acalanes Liftathon took place on July 28 and 29 in the Acalanes weight room where athletes lifted their maximum deadlift, bench, and squat. Any and all Acalanes students that participated in a sport over the last school year were welcome in the event that Acalanes Boosters organized.

   The purpose of the Acalanes Liftathon was not to fundraise, but to showcase new equipment and raise awareness for the weight room. It was very accessible to athletes for their participation. The Boosters did their best to give every athlete a chance to participate if they wanted to and encouraged all teams to join.

   “The main objective was to get people to use the weight room. We wanted to get more teams to use the weight room throughout the year but mostly over the summer,” Boosters Webmaster Jeff Julian said.

   Just before the previous school year ended, Boosters and administration both sponsored upgrades to the weight room.

   “We wanted to raise awareness of the amount of work that the Boosters program has done to help fund refurbishing this new weight room,” Acalanes Athletic Director and Acalanes Girls Volleyball Coach Haley Walsh said.

   Promoting a weight room also comes with making sure everyone knows how to use it properly. At the Liftathon, there were three lifts that everyone who participated either learned how to do or continued working on with good form.

   “We wanted to teach the athletes some basic powerlifting lifts, the bench press, the squat, and the deadlift. They are free weight lifts, so it does take a bit of training to learn how to do them,” Julian said.

   The Liftathon also advertised lifting to all genders to make sure everyone feels comfortable, especially those moving to the next level of play.

   “I think there is that stereotype that male athletes lift and female athletes don’t, even though when you get to the collegiate level, or professional level, all female athletes are lifting, no matter their sport,” Walsh said.

   It is important that women have the same exposure to the weight room as men do, so Boosters also had a goal to motivate more girls teams to lift by reaching out to them for the Acalanes Liftathon.

   “Encouraging more people to use the weight room is also encouraging more female programs to use the weight room, so that was also another [large point of emphasis when holding the event],” Julian said.

   Another main goal of the Liftathon was for athletes to have a good time with teammates and friends.    “[The weight room is]  a great way for teams and programs to bond because you’re pushing yourself past the limits that you think you can do. It’s so much fun when you’re lifting and you hear your teammates cheering you on, pushing you, trying to get you to lift more than you even thought you could,” Walsh said.

   Many athletes went for personal records with the encouragement of their teammates at the Liftathon. Personal records show how strong one is at different lifts and how much one improves at them as they get stronger.

   “I think it’s really important to see how far you’ve progressed, it gives you motivation to keep training and get stronger. It’s also really rewarding to see improvements on lifts you may have struggled with in the past,” junior Paul Kuhner said.

   Because of its unique goals, the Acalanes Liftathon was different from most. In a typical Liftathon, participants get sponsors and ask that they donate a penny or nickel per pound that the participant lifts in the competition. After the competition happens, the participant gets the donations from their sponsors and gives them to the fundraiser. It takes more effort from all participants.

   “Instead of having a pay per pound and having everyone going and getting a bunch of sponsors, we wanted to simplify it. We said ‘Hey, you don’t have to do per pound, you don’t have to do sponsors, it will be a straight $40 registration that will cover some of the cost of the shirts, gift cards, and some additional costs,’” Julian said.

   Making the event registration easy for participants helped encourage more athletes to lift.

   “Athletes working out in the weight room is beneficial for them because it makes them safer in their sports. That is a main goal, to protect more athletes from injuries in their sports,” Acalanes Football Strength and Conditioning Coach Tim Silveira said.

   The Liftathon organizers had to advertise in a variety of ways to Acalanes athletes in order to have a successful event.

   “We advertised on the Boosters instagram, I sent emails to all of the coaches at Acalanes, and it was also posted on the Acalanes Booster’s site,” Julian said.

   There were certain benchmarks for boys and girls who participated in the event. Athletes that reached these benchmarks in the Liftathon got a t-shirt that says 500 pound club or 1,000 pound club. 

   “[The event] consists of deadlift, squat, and bench. If you can lift a total of 500 pounds, it’s usually a one rep, you make the 500 pound club. That’s for the girls, the 500 club. We do the same thing for the boys, and it’s usually 1,000 pounds,” Julian said.

   For a long time, when testing maximum lifts, the athlete attempts to do one rep of one exercise. However, recently, trainers have moved away from one rep maxes. Furthermore, at the Liftathon, they tested three rep maxes and multiplied athletes totals by 1.1. For many participants, this helped them break 1,000 or 500 pounds. There were six new members of the 500 pound club and 15 new members of the 1,000 pound club, which are both year-round. Athletes can record their lifts and get the t-shirt any time they are in the weight room with a trainer.

   For athletes that lifted the most weight in their height or weight class, Boosters gave out Amazon gift card prizes. 

   “We are giving a gift card to the female athlete over 5’7” that lifted the most weight, and the female athlete under 5’7” that lifted the most. For males we’re doing it by weight, so the athletes that weigh 225 and up are in the heavyweight division, middle weight is between 225 and 180, and lightweight is below that,” Julian said.

   The girls’ winners were senior Katelyn Olin for those over 5’7” and junior Jasmine Frost for those under 5’7”. The boys’ winners were senior Marcus Julian for heavy weight, junior Paul Kuhner for middleweight, and junior Colin Malmquist for lightweight. Over 75 people participated in the event this year.

   Coaches and athletes agreed that the Liftathon was a fun event that got people excited for their season to come. The football team showed great participation and landed many athletes with gift cards or t-shirts. The girls’ volleyball team also performed well with many participants and several winners.

   “I didn’t really know what to expect coming into the event, but the way that the girls participated and the amount of weight that they could lift was phenomenal. I was shocked and those female athletes were just as shocked that they could do that,” Walsh said.

   Participants of the Liftathon agreed that it was a fun event where they got to push themselves and Boosters and coaches look forward to future years. 

   “It was a super fun event that hopefully encouraged more individuals and teams to use this amazing weight room that Boosters has helped to provide,” Kuhner said. “I’m excited for next year and look forward to seeing more people using the weight room.”

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