There were hardly any spots in the parking lot. The sport of powerlifting had become the hottest commodity in East Texas.
Only playoff basketball collected as many fans to the gym as powerlifting. With each team being about a dozen lifters and with almost 20 schools participating, the number of family members coming to watch their son/daughter/brother/sister participate grows rapidly.
Both sides of the gym were packed, one side with the spectators and the other with the athletes and coaches. On the passageway wall connecting the two sides were posted printouts of all participants and the unfolding results.
I was busy jotting down the local school’s team members and their weight classes. They were posted on the wall near the entrance to the athletes and coaches side of the gym.
Leaned against the wall just near the entrance to that side of the gym, maybe ten feet away, was a girl in tears. Evidently her initial lift that morning had not gone well, and she was quite distraught. There was no mistaking however that she was a lifter, as she wore school colors and a lifting kit.
In a gesture of team support, she was soon consoled by another lifter. He shared a brief history of his own struggles at his first meet. Then, after he left, another lifter happened by with more words of wisdom, and yet another.
I was done taking notes, but I didn’t leave. The words that were being spoken to this young athlete were tremendously inspiring.
An older lady came by, whether she was her coach or parent is unknown, but her very short remark to the girl ended with, “We love you.”
The last person I heard speak to her simply told her how lucky she was to have such amazing support. She was nodding and smiling.
(Editor’s note: Monitor sports correspondent John Arbter doesn’t have much to cover these days, so he’s going into the archives and sharing some observations from his beat.)