Monthly Archives: July 2010

Improvements to the USAWA Officials Program

by Al Myers

Level 2 USAWA Certified Official Frank Ciavattone officiating at the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

One of the big changes this past year in the USAWA was the development of an Officials Program.  This started at the 2009 Annual Meeting with the approval of the new improved Rulebook that outlined the new Officials Program, and by electing Joe Garcia as the Officials Director for the USAWA.  Improvements were made to the Officials Program at the 2010 Annual Meeting last month.  I am going to describe and explain the USAWA Officials Program so everyone will be more knowledgeable of it.  Everything I say here is outlined in the Rulebook or on the website.

The USAWA has two levels of Certified Officials – Level 1 and Level 2.  Level 1 has been split into two subdivisions – Level 1 Test Qualified and Level 1 Experience Qualified. The Rulebook (Section VII. 9) explains these two levels as follows:

There will be two levels of classification for Certified USAWA officials.

• Level 1 Test Qualified – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test.

• Level 1 Experience Qualified – The official has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.

• Level 2 – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.

I want to emphasize that ALL OFFICIALS (Level 1 and Level 2) have the same authority as a Certified USAWA Official.  Nothing in the Rulebook says different.  It is simply a classification that details HOW one became certified.  These classifications are recorded for each official in the “Officials” section of the website and are kept up to date at all times.  To become a Certified Official (if you are not Experience Qualified) requires taking and passing an Open Book Exam of the USAWA Rulebook.  It must be sent to the Officials Director Joe Garcia for grading.  You must score over 90% correct answers to pass.  Once you pass, Joe informs me to list you on the website as a current official. All of this is detailed in the “Officials” section and the Rules Test is available in several different formats, so hopefully, one will work for you to  download.

One of the big changes to the Officials Programs is adding time limits to the Official Cards.  The membership agreed to a 3-year Officials Card before re-certification is required. The new Rulebook (available August 1st on the website) will have this information in it.  Section VII. 12 and Section VII.13 have been added to the Rulebook, as stated below:

12. Once an official has passed the Rules Test, the Officials Director will issue an Officials card that will be valid for 3 years from the date the official passed the test. Level 1 Test Qualified Officials will be required to retake the Rules Test after 3 years to maintain Certified Official Status. Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials will receive an Officials card that is valid for 3 years and will be automatically renewed unless the official has been inactive as an official during the previous three year period, in which a new Officials Card will not be issued unless the individual makes a written request to the Officials Director. Level 2 Officials are exempt from recertification, and are issued a lifetime officials card.

13. An individual must make a written request to the Officials Director in order to apply for Level 1 Experience Qualified Certified Status or to show proof of officiating experience in order to change their level of certification.

Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials were developed originally as a “Grandfather Clause” to allow those VERY experienced qualified officials not to have to take a Rules Test.   These officials have always been the backbone of officiating in the USAWA and have proven their worth as a good official.  However, now, if they have not been active as an official for 3 years (and officiating ONLY ONE meet in this time keeps them active) they will be dropped from the list and must make a written request to Officials Director to regain Certified Officials Status.  I think this is very reasonable.  Why keep someone on our Officials List if they haven’t been contributing to the USAWA as an official?? Also, if someone IS Experience Qualified and hasn’t been officiating for several years, requiring a written request from them to become active as an official again in the USAWA doesn’t seem out of line to me. It’s not much to ask of them to drop Joe or me a short letter or email about their intentions of wanting to officiate in the USAWA again.    Joe and I  have no way of knowing who is “Experience Qualified” without someone telling us and giving us proof.  Most old meet results in the Strength Journal didn’t list the Officials.  Truthfully, I really don’t understand why Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials don’t want to take the Rules Test and become Level 2 Officials.  Lots has changed in the Rulebook and I’m sure they would learn something new as well as giving support to our new Officials Program.

Another new addition to the Rulebook involving officials is adding the minimum age of 16 years. Section VII.2 states The minimum age for a Certified Official is 16 years of age. Much debate arose at the meeting when this was discussed.  Some felt like it should be a higher age requirement.  Myself, I think 16 is a good minimum age to be an official.  Afterall, I’m meeting kids on the road that age when I’m driving!   I still think that at big meets (like Nationals and Worlds) more seasoned officials should be used.

I am pleased how the USAWA Officials Program is going.  We started it last year with a simple system,  and as time goes we are adding more requirements to make it better.  I feel the reason the USAWA Official Programs have failed in the past is because they were too complicated and required too much to start with.  They failed before they had the time to succeed.  We still have a long ways to go before we have a great Officials Program – but at least we have SOMETHING.   So as of now to become a Certified USAWA Official – all you have to do is take and pass a test!

James Splaine: Lightest to ever Lift the Dinnie Stones?

by Thom Van Vleck

At 144 pounds, is James Splaine the lightest man to ever lift the Dinnie Stones?

In 2006 I got a chance to lift the Inver Stone.  I’m a descent stone lifter and just took it for granted that as long as I was injury free, I could lift the Inver Stone, which I did.  After that (and a beer and a shot of scotch at the Inver Inn) we headed to the Potarch Inn, home of the Dinnie Stones just a few miles down the road near Kincardine O’Neil.

Recently, there was a story  in the USAWA Daily News on Steve Angell lifting those stones 20 reps in one day.  An amazing feat.  I am not a grip master, but I have a good grip, and the Dinnie Stones were not within my capabilities.  Partly due to the fact that I’m a “palm” gripper.  Which means I grip things like that, such as the  Highland Games implements in my palm. To be able to get your hands in the round rings, especially the smaller ring, you have to be a good “finger” gripper, or have the ability to get that ring down in your fingers and hang on.  I simply could not do it.  Even with straps, they felt like a real load!!!

Recently, I was reading through an old Iron Man magazine (back when Peary Rader published it and it was the best magazine out there for strength training and news….even if he did have a lot of bodybuilders on the covers…at least back then they were strong!).  I have tons of them and even though I’ve read through them many times, you will find things that catch your eye that you didn’t notice before.  It was issue # and I came across a David Willoughby article.  I really enjoy the old Willoughby articles on old time strongman feats.  I had recalled reading this one before as it talked about lifting block scale weights (a favorite of my granddad Dalton Jackson).  It was all about different types of  grip strength and while it was ALL great reading, the Dinnie Stones were fresh on my mind after Angell’s fantastic feat.  It was then I noticed a picture of a small man lifting the Dinnie Stones.

I have to admit, there’s probably a reason I don’t remember this picture.  The guy in it was listed at 144lbs and he looked like it!  His name was James Splaine and he was listed as being from Aberdeen and it’s his son, Jim, on his shoulders.   Being a big guy,  I have a bad habit of ignoring anyone that’s not a heavy weight.  But this guy was doing a “heavy weight” feat of strength and it was only after I had lifted these stones did I now appreciate  the feat of strength in the picture.

Now, I need to mention a couple things.  I have seen claims of lifting the Dinnie Stones….with STRAPS!  Inside the Potarch Inn, where the stones reside, is a hallway with photos of Donald Dinnie and stories on the stones.  There’s a photo of a local guy lifting them with scale weights strapped on for a combined with, I think, over 900lbs.  But if you look at the photo, the guy is using straps!  I use straps a lot in my training, but I never compare a strapped lift to one that is just grip.  They are two different things.  Another thing, you will notice in the photo of James Splaine, how he’s got the rings down in his fingers.

Willoughby claims in the caption that Splaine was the lightest man ever to lift the Dinnie Stones. I’m not sure if anyone lighter has done it since (let alone with his son on his shoulders!).

Updated Rulebook and New Bylaws

by Al Myers

The USAWA Rulebook 4th Edition

The updated Rulebook (Edition 4) and new Bylaws are now available on the website.  Both can be found in the header line of the website.  This section also contains a document titled “2010 Rulebook Changes/New Approved Lifts”.  This is the new information added to the previous Rulebook (Edition 3).  I included this so if you already have a previous Rulebook and don’t want to buy or print off a new one you could simply just add these pages to your Rulebook.

I  added some new pictures to the Rulebook (the print-off doesn’t have these).  So if you want to see who made it you’ll have to open up the new Rulebook and have a look! The Rulebook is now 91 pages long, contains rules for all 164 Official lifts, and contains 94 pictures of 55 lifters.  The new USAWA Bylaws are also available now on the website.  These new bylaws were prepared this past year by the Bylaw committee of Joe Garcia, Tim Piper, and myself.  They were approved by the membership at the 2010 Annual Meeting. These new Bylaws replaced the non-functioning bylaws that were originally written in 1987, which were  never updated to reflect how the USAWA has evolved in the past 20 years.  The new USAWA Bylaws reflect how our organization has been functioning in recent years.  The only “new thing”  in them is the formation of a 5-person Executive Board that will govern the USAWA throughout the year.  Membership will still have final say on the majority of issues, and decisions made by membership vote at the Annual Meeting will continue to make the ultimate decisions on issues.  Please take the time to look over the bylaws on the website.

I will have “hard copies” of the Rulebook for sale again.  These copies will also contain the Bylaws.  The book will sell for $30 (including postage).  Let me know if you want one.  I am only going to print off copies for what I have orders for to prevent unnecessary carry-over.  I plan to have a printing by the end of August and again the first of the year.

Dino Strength

by Al Myers

Contact Dino Strength for all your weightlifting needs!

It is exciting to announce the latest business venture from the Dino Gym.  Scott Tully, of  the Dino Gym, has started a business catering to weightlifters in regards to lifting equipment, supplements, and weightlifting accessories.  His business is named Dino Strength.  Scott has been involved for several years in a similar business, but now has taken it to the “next level”.  All of the products sold by Dino Strength will be tested extensively by the members of the Dino Gym.  Scott will ONLY sell products that have been tested on “real weightlifters”!  This is to insure that you will be pleased with your purchases. Also, when you call and talk to Scott you will be talking to an expert and not someone just taking orders who doesn’t have a clue how to put a weightlifting belt on!

Below are a few comments from Scott, link to the Dino Strength website, and Scott’s email address.

I am proud to announce the startup of a new business and website. specializes in Belts, Supports and Wraps, and will be adding some exciting new equipment as well as nutritional supplements in the near future.  Most of the products have been designed and redesigned over the last 2 years, making sure that we have put out the best products for the best prices on the market.  All products are in stock and will ship within 2 business days.  If you have any questions contact us through our site or email me direct at

Scott Tully

The USAWA Hall of Fame Program

by Al Myers

Finally, the USAWA has revived the USAWA Hall of Fame Program.  This has been a long process that has taken over one year to accomplish.  This process started at the 2009 National Meeting when the ad hoc committee of Denny Habecker, Dale Friesz, and Dennis Mitchell was established to investigate and make recommendations on the Hall of Fame Program at the 2010 National Meeting.  Upon hearing the committee’s suggestions at the 2010 meeting, the membership voted to allow the newly elected Executive Board to “iron out the details” and once every Executive Board member was in agreement, the new Hall of Fame Program would be implemented immediately.  Well, I’m proud to say that the Executive Board has already accomplished this task and the USAWA once again has an active Hall of Fame Program. Thanks needs to be given to the committee that worked tirelessly in providing different choices of Hall of Fame Programs to the membership at the meeting, and to the Executive Board of Denny Habecker, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt, Dennis Mitchell and myself for working through the final details.    The Board looked at every aspect of this new program, and discussed each point extensively so the best program possible would be implemented.  The new Hall of Fame Program criteria is laid out very clearly, and is a very simple system.

This New Program is different in some ways than what was used before.  In the early days of the USAWA,  Hall of Fame nominees were selected and voted on by the membership at the National Meeting.  No specific criteria was required to be nominated, just a nomination from someone at the meeting.   In 1997, the USAWA decided to go to a points system for Hall of Fame induction.  The committee of Chris Waterman, Frank Ciavattone, Denny Habecker, and John Vernacchio were put in charge of developing this system.  Once it was developed and accepted by the membership, Chris Waterman was designated as the official person to oversee the program.  Part of his responsibility was keeping track of everyone’s points as they applied to the Hall of Fame criteria, and once 1000 points were reached, he would present that individual for Hall of Fame induction.  Chris Waterman did an outstanding job of keeping track of everyone’s points with this tedious system. It required him to accurately record and maintain a list of ALL members and their HOF  points at all times. The problem arose when he retired in 2003 and the USAWA did not delegate someone else to take over his duties of maintaining the Hall of Fame Program and thus the program “died” until now.

In the new Hall of Fame Program, an individual may be nominated in one of two ways – either on Merit or on Honor.  To be nominated on Merit, 1000 points must be reached.  Twelve categories are laid out in the Nomination Form in which an nominee may accrue points.  These categories include such things as participation in National and World Meets, placing in the top five at National and World Meets, participating in other meets such as local meets or postal meets, serving the USAWA as an officer, being a Meet Director, being a Club Founder, and even  points are awarded for current USAWA records held.  It pretty much covers everything!  One of the differences from the previous point system is that with the new system it  is harder to reach 1000 points.  Less points are awarded in the different categories than before. Another big difference is that the New Hall of Fame Program will rely on the membership to make nominations, instead of just one person “keeping track of everything”.  I think this is important in that it will allow the Hall of Fame Program to self-perpetuate, by being independent of one individual or a committee.  The second way of being nominated is on the basis of Honor. No point criteria is required to be nominated this way.  This allows the USAWA the ability to award Hall of Fame Membership to someone the organization feels  deserves it, who  may not have been involved directly with the USAWA.

I am very pleased with the development of this new USAWA Hall of Fame Program.  I like it’s  simplicity. I like how “clear cut”  and specific it is in regards to the point criteria. I like how it relies on the membership for presenting nominees.   It also allows  an individual to monitor their own points in pursuit of the highest award the USAWA has to offer, and by this, provides a “source of inspiration” to all USAWA members.

The new Hall of Fame Nomination Form is found under the section “Forms and Applications”, or you can view it here at HOF Nomination Form.

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