Girls Varsity Weightlifting Introduces New format For Meets


JAKE RAFFA, Sports Department Editor

   Adapting in the face of a challenge is a necessity in this COVID-19 plagued world. For a sport requiring players to lift inside, packed together in a small room, girls varsity weightlifting is the perfect environment for an outbreak. In order to minimize exposure, the season this year will be virtual.

   “We compete in the bench press and the clean and jerk,” girls varsity weightlifting coach Harry Meyers said. “At meets this year the girls will do their lifts, and we might get a video for the parents to watch.”

   Although referred to as “virtual” meets, the only truly “virtual” element would be the video for parents to watch. Meet scoring will still proceed as normal, with the biggest lifts for each weight class scoring the most points. However, instead of having all the teams competing in the same place, each team will lift in their own weight room. Then, they will record their own scores, and coaches will compare their scores with other schools once a week, trusting that each coach is telling the truth about the scoring.

   Senior leader Clara Dowdy is returning for her fourth and final season as a varsity weightlifter. Dowdy prefers being able to lift in her own weight room, as she is much more familiar with the equipment. But she notices a downside to these virtual meets as well.

   “Not having anyone [in person] to compare my lifts to will make meets harder,” Dowdy said. “I’m a very competitive person, and I like seeing my competition in person to push me to success.”

   Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place, coaches have to alternate which girls are competing each day. With the team consisting of slightly more than 60 lifters, this creates a unique issue.

   “We can only have 20 to 25 girls competing in one day, but the most important thing is trying to get everyone qualified for districts,” Meyers said. “Nowadays, you could find out half your team has to quarantine right before districts, so you really just never know.”

   As of now, the girls are competing in the Citrus League, but only Windermere and Bishop Moore have teams. Additionally, Bishop Moore’s team isn’t affiliated with the school, so they won’t qualify for the postseason. Under the new virtual format, the girls could possibly lift against teams outside the Citrus League, but this is still up for discussion.

   One potential issue of these virtual meets is cheating. For instance, as the coaches simply compare notes of each girls’ lifts, it becomes almost entirely merit-based. Cheating could potentially spike, with each team in charge of judging its own lifters, and the ability for each coach to lie about their best lifts. However, Coach Meyers doesn’t believe this will be a problem.

   “We’re not too concerned that other teams might be cheating,” Meyers said. “You can lie all you want [in the regular season], but once you get to districts, which will be in person, you have to do the lifts. The only issue you start to run into is how strict your judges are on your kids, compared to a live district meet with real judging.”

   The regular season meets aren’t the only thing that’s been impacted; the girls have to change the way they practice as well. 

   “Right now, we can only have 18 lifters in at a time, two at each station, but theoretically we could have 27 lifters, three at each station,” Meyers said. “The girls have to alternate which days they come to practice, so we even added a Saturday practice to fit everyone in.”

   Junior weightlifter Alexia Steinberg sees an upside to this new format.

   “I like practices this year more than last year,” Steinberg said. “The weight room isn’t as full, and I have more space to work out.”

   Despite all the changes, Meyers believes that the team is ready for a successful season.

   “I don’t like talking about winning and results before a season, but I think we have a good chance of winning districts and can genuinely compete in regionals, maybe even winning a regional championship,” Meyers said.