The AO3 ~ A Grand Rapids Journey

Sometimes its hard to know in advance that a particular weekend or event will stand out.  Before traveling to the American

 Open Series 3, I know I was operating on the edge of barely having my act together to pack fresh socks for the weekend.   Coaching, kids, training, vacation… all good stuff…but made for an incredibly busy few weeks prior to the event.   So I packed my weightlifting shoes, my coaches notes, and some packs of oatmeal and sardines got on the plane and hoped that the weekend would hold lots of successful weightlifting.  What I didn’t know was that the weekend would also unfold with standout moments from my traveling companions.  Moments that made me grateful to be a coach, grateful to have them as friends, and inspired as a person and athlete.
Friday night…
Katie was scheduled to lift at 8pm.   Although she competed at Masters Nationals earlier this year and won her weight classand age group, Katie had only done an 8 week cycle to prep for this meet.   Due to surgery and travel she had not been able to put in the time to feel confident.   I knew she was nervous… and on top of her own lifting nerves, her daughter Lauryn was going to lift on Sunday, so she was extra nervous.   To make a long story short, she went out on the platform and went “STONE COLD THUG!”  She went 5 for 6, hitting 97% of her best lifetime snatch and hitting a lifetime PR clean and jerk.
Her lifting was top notch… but when I think about that night, I actually think about that moment right before she went out on the platform…when her emotions hit her… and her doubt and nervousness threatened to explode in tears or puke….this is the moment where some people fall apart.  This is the moment where some people let emotions control them… but Katie took a deep breath, wiped her sweat with her towel walked out on the platform without so much as a stutter and put it DOWN.   I don’t know many people who can flip a switch like she can.   I didn’t think about it until after, but this is Katie as a friend and person too… when things are hard she is tough as nails and unstoppable.  I would stand next to Katie in battle any day.
Saturday am…
My turn to lift.   Just in case people don’t know, I love competition.  But what makes me competitive and focused also changes me in that setting.   I am a different girl as an athlete than I am as a coach or mom or friend.  I am so grateful for Katie, Eric, Amie and Sarah, who were all there to support me that day and helped me have a great meet.  I know I’m a pain in the butt with my latin jams, handstands and crossfit clothes.  Thanks for putting up with me.
Now.. on to Amie…Saturday evening.
Amie has lifted in exactly one official weightlifting meet prior to the AO3.  She signed up with a lot of encouragement and peer pressure and had hopes of just getting a total.   Traveling to the AO3 would be her first weekend trip away from her toddler son and a logistical challenge to say the least.  She signed up anyway. After helping both Katie and I feel ready for our session, she had to deal with nervous energy the longest.  It was finally her turn.    Ironically we found a platform to share with the strongest lifter in her session.   We shared a platform, but not a bar.   lol.   Amie went through her warmup looking steady and calm.   When she went out to lift she hit a very strong snatch opener and went on to PR her clean and jerk.
My favorite thing about Amie lifting that night was her joy and surprise after she was done.  It was as though she really didn’t know she was that physically strong. It amazed me how she could be that great of an athlete and not know it.  Everyone who knows her can probably attest to it.  She is humble, giving and will methodically hunt you down and beat you in a workout.  I think her achievement that night wasn’t just an improvement on her total, but a increased faith in her own ability.  She signed up completely uncertain, made the trip despite obstacles and accomplished something completely out of her comfort zone.  Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and be brave, and that’s exactly what she did.  We should all do that more.
Sunday…
On Sunday we were all feeling much better.  We got to watch Lauryn throw around some big weights and then watched some of the best 75kg lifters in the country.  It was great.   Without the stress of lifting and coaching I had the opportunity to sit and think.  Just in case you didn’t know, Sarah had trained hard to qualify for the AO3 and had just barely missed the qualifying total.   We invited Sarah to come with us and Sarah made the trip to the AO3 as as assistant coach, team mom, support person, and friend for the three of us lifting.
As a coach, people tell me things all the time that they “want” to do.  The end accomplishment is always the dream whether its a pull-up, a certain strength milestone or whatever.  A lot of times the talk isn’t backed up with the work and the dream fades away and is replaced by excuses.  What Sarah showed that weekend and what she repeatedly shows every day in the gym is that she is willing to do the work.   She does not quit and will do what it takes to be a good lifter.   She will do what it takes to become a good coach.  She simply follows the plan and does the work.    That weekend, Sarah was definitely an assistant coach, team mom, support person and friend.   But way beyond that, Sarah was an example of what passion looks like before it gets sexy.  Before the totals are high, before some fancy coaching title… just willing to grind for something she loves.   Can’t teach that type of drive.  It is the opposite of “all talk.”  With that type of effort, there is no limit to what is possible.
And with that I will close my story on the AO3.   I know it turned a little sappy, but I couldn’t let the weekend pass into memory without reflecting on these moments and friends I had the privilege to coach and travel with to Grand Rapids.  Special times and special people.   Strong, Brave and Tenacious.   Like superheroes who love coffee, lululemon and lifting heavy things!