On April 27, Slippery Rock University’s Aebersold Student Recreation Center (ARC) will be the setting for the first annual Power of the Pride powerlifting competition, hosted by the new Rock Powerlifting Club (RPC).
About a decade ago, according to junior exercise science major and president of the club Cale Walker, the original organization disbanded and took an annual event with it. He’s excited to have teamed up with friend and fellow exercise science major Craig Meyers to bring back the club and the event “bigger and better than ever.”
The Power of the Pride competition will feature three powerlifting events: bench, squat and deadlift. Medals will be awarded to the top lifters in each weight class and category and all proceeds will be donated to the Big Brother, Big Sister of the greater Pittsburgh area.
Meyers, the vice president of the club, and Walker founded the club last year. Both students are relatively new to the sport but have a lot of passion for competing and teaching. Meyers, a former basketball player, said he was an athlete for 17 years until he injured his shoulder his junior year of high school, taking him off the court.
“I always had this competitive edge,” Meyers said. “My older brother got me into lifting and I just absolutely fell in love with it but I still wanted to compete; I wanted to face up against people and just get that competitive edge going again.”
That’s when he started school at SRU and met Walker, a high school football player who shared the same drive for competition. Walker said he was always interested in lifting as a football player, but he had never competed in any powerlifting competitions because he always felt he needed to be just a little bit better to compete.
“I always felt like I needed to be a little bit stronger to do a competition; I needed to train more before I could ever step onstage because I needed to be stronger because all these other guys would blow me out of the water,” Walker said. “It took until I decided to start the Rock Powerlifting Club last year to realize that I just need to do it.”
Walker and Meyers competed in their first powerlifting competition in Nov. 2018. There, they saw the positive and supportive environment that surrounds the sport.
“We say its a competition, but everyone is just there to do their very best and they want to see everyone else do their very best as well,” Walker said.
Currently, there is a similar competition-style show held at SRU every year: the Mr. and Mrs. SRU Bodybuilding, Figure, Physique and Bikini Show sponsored by the Bodybuilding and Fitness Club. Meyers said he loves the show and enjoys attending and supports those who enjoy competing and performing in it, but there are other lifters who would never participate.
“They feel a little self-conscious about how they look but they still want to compete and get some exposure for what they can do,” Meyers said. “The Power of the Pride will give other people an opportunity to still showcase their skills, to still put themselves out there and feel accomplished for what they can do in the gym without feeling so self-conscious about being in a swimsuit.”
SRU used to have a similar event and club, but it folded around a decade ago, according to Walker, and they’re excited to bring it back and watch it grow after they graduate. Both expressed some worry about the club falling apart after they leave, but they do have hope that their leadership building now will prevent that from happening.
“A goal of mine has always been to build the leadership of the future to make sure that this club does go on past my graduation,” Walker said. “So that I can come back and really see the Rock Powerlifting Club’s still doing well, still thriving, constantly growing.”
Outside of the Power of the Pride event, the club meets on Thursday evenings for group lifts, time for training together, advice, socialization, connecting as a team, and sharing the knowledge that the exercise science majors are learning in their courses. The club also started Strongman Saturdays. Similar to the ‘strongman’ events that feature powerlifters pushing cars and lifting boulders, the members get together on some Saturdays and have fun lifting different things and participating in friendly, informal competitions.
Walker and Meyers are excited about the event and the exposure it will provide for the powerlifters on campus who don’t care as much about looking good; “they just want to get out there, do their lift and step off the stage,” Meyers said. Especially after their first competition, the two were looking forward to allowing others to experience the adrenaline of competing in shows like that one.
“That feeling you get when the light is on you and everyone’s screaming, it’s an awestruck feeling and we just really want to bring that back here and give other people that chance to do it on a lower level than having to go to these big meets,” Walker said.
Registration for the Power of the Pride is open until the morning of the competition, giving leeway to anyone who may currently be on the fence about competing. Walker said anyone can participate, so long as they pay the $10 registration fee, and all proceeds will be donated to the Big Brother, Big Sister program, an organization that means a lot to Meyers. His nephew was involved with the program, which changed his life for the better, Meyers said.
For more information about the Rock Powerlifting Club or the Power of the Pride competition, contact Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the club’s CORE page.