Willy Miezan ’19 (right, wearing cap), who volunteered to be a spotter during the event, encourages a lifter to do his best.
The soundtrack of Iler Hall is unmistakable. A symphony of crashing barbells, primal grunts and all manner of hype music played at ear-splitting volumes has long emanated from the building, the byproduct of Longwood student-athletes’ daily training regimen in their well-equipped weight facility located in the middle of Longwood’s campus.
But on a Saturday in February, a different group of athletes settled into Iler’s squat racks, Olympic platforms and benches to take part in a competition that humbled even the strongest Lancer.
That crop of athletes came from all over Virginia to compete in the annual Special Olympics Powerlifting Meet that Longwood has proudly hosted for three years running. This year, the event drew more than 20 participants, who competed in powerlifting’s traditional “Big Three”—the deadlift, bench press and back squat.
C.J. Roth ’16, a former Longwood baseball player and Longwood’s current assistant director of sports performance, organized the event once again, employing the assistance of dozens of Lancers who volunteered their time to monitor lifts, set up and break down equipment, and cheer on the competitors with the help of the Longwood cheerleaders.
“Every year this event is a blast for everyone involved,” said Roth, who is president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. “To watch these athletes showcase their abilities is infectious and fun to watch. Beyond that, to see the whole campus come together and provide an energetic and supportive environment for these athletes to compete is a true testament to what a special place Longwood is.”
The competition began early in the morning with Longwood students and staff overseeing, judging and spotting the lifts.
In years past, Longwood athletics has been the primary driver of the event, but this year’s meet expanded even further into Longwood’s campus community. Students from Longwood’s Health, Athletic Training, Recreation and Kinesiology (HARK) program, as well as members of the Longwood LIFE program joined Longwood’s student-athletes as volunteers at the event.
“Seeing the combination of happiness and laser focus on the faces of the lifters was a special thing to witness,” said Longwood men’s soccer player Willy Miezan ’19, an exercise science major who got an up-close look at every lift as a spotter during the meet. “Just watching them lift made me want to join them.”