2011 Wrap Up

by Al Myers

As promised, I will do a “wrap-up” story today on the highlights of the 2011 USAWA year.  This is one story I always look forward to writing, as it summarizes the past year of USAWA events and competitions, along with other top stories.  2011 was a great year for the USAWA – arguably one of the best years ever!  I’m going to “go out on a limb” here, and RANK the top 10 stories of 2011 as I see them.  I’m sure there will be those who don’t agree – but TOUGH LUCK cause I’m the one writing the story!!!  Here it goes, with the count-down beginning at number 10.


This website continues to grow at  a steady pace and accumulating information all the time.  Last year there were 305 blogs produced in the USAWA DAILY NEWS.  I have just finished the 2011 Year In Review, which contains all the information placed on the website within the past year. This book (or should I say novel?) is over 500 pages in length and contains over 20,000 words.  Numerous authors have written stories for the Daily News. These were the top 5 writers in number of stories contributed – Thom Van Vleck, John McKean, Dennis Mitchell, Dave Glasgow,  and myself. Next to myself, Thom had the most with 76 stories!  I want to thank EVERYONE who has contributed stories to the website, because that is what makes it an organization’s publication.


I have already reported on 2011 being a record year in number of USAWA records set.  A total of 758 records by 72 lifters were established in the USAWA record list, which is ahead of the second place year (2005) by 83 records.  A truly record record-breaking year! Also, 2011 saw the entry of two more lifters into the CENTURY CLUB (for lifters who have over 100 USAWA records) – Rudy Bletscher and Chad Ullom. This list now stands at 21 USAWA lifters of all time.


The development of the USAWA Online Store has been discussed for a couple of years now, but at the 2011 USAWA National Meeting the membership voted to allocate funds for its development.  Several items are offered for sale to promote the USAWA -tshirts, sweatshirts, patches, water bottles and judging shirts, and all of these items are available to be purchased online.  All profits go into the bank account of the USAWA. So far, several orders have been filled.


Most of you know Dale “the Miracle Man” Friesz has faced probably the most difficult physical difficulty any lifter could be dealt – the amputation of a leg.  Dale did the “impossible” and returned to the lifting platform at Art’s Birthday Bash in October, and proceeded to break several USAWA records. His ring fingers deadlift of 122 pounds is exceptional, especially considering he did it on a prosthetic leg that has not been fitted properly yet!  Dale is has been the USAWA Award Winner for the Courage Award these past two years, and after this feat he has my vote again for 2012!!!!  If Dale is able to make it to Vegas for Nationals, he’ll make next years TOP TEN stories as well.


Grip competitions have been tested in USAWA competitions for many years, but till this meet there has never been a Grip Championships within the USAWA.  Kevin Fulton was the early promoter of many of the organizations grip competitions, with his famous grip challenges at his gym under the sanction of the USAWA.  In 2010, the Dino Gym hosted a grip challenge that was the precursor of this past year’s Grip Championships (notice I say “Championships” and not “Nationals”, because as Dale has said there can be only ONE NATIONALS, the GRANDDADDY of them all the National Championships, which I agree with him on).  Eight lifters took part this past year – Al Myers, Ben Edwards, Dave Glasgow, Denny Habecker, Mark Mitchell, Rudy Bletscher and Felecia Simms.   These lifters took part in the FIRST YEAR of something “big to come” in future years in the USAWA.  


Thom Van Vleck, of the JWC, promoted one of the BEST National Championships of ALL-TIME in the USAWA this past year in Kirksville, Missouri.  This, without a doubt, was a highlight meet of the year in the USAWA.  18 lifters took part from all parts of the country.  Team Ledaig Heavy Athletics walked away with the team title and most of the other main awards.  Team members Amber Glasgow won the Overall Womens Best Lifter Award and Larry Traub won the Overall Mens Best Lifter Award.  It was the first big win for both of these two lifters in the USAWA’s premier yearly competition (and from now on will be known as THE ONE AND ONLY NATIONALS).


As has been covered in detail by Joe Garcia this week in the USAWA Daily News, Bill Clark receiving the very first Lifetime Achievement Award ranks “right at the top” of highlights during this past year.  This is an award Bill TRULY DESERVED, as without him we would not even have an organization.  No one knows the amount of time Bill has invested in the USAWA during his lifetime to make it the lifting organization it is now.  It is only right that Bill be the FIRST ONE to receive this prestigious award, and the honorary lifetime membership  in the USAWA that comes with it.


I really felt like we hit “the BIG TIME” when we were able to be part of York Barbell’s Strength Festival last May.  We hosted our USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in conjunction with all the other activities that were going on at York Barbell that day.  It was a meet I will never forget – lifting on the “big stage” in front of strength athletes from all over the country. It was an honor for our organization to be part of something like that, and gave us National exposure like we have never seen before.  Of course Chad Ullom hitting that WORLD RECORD Neck Lift of 900 pounds was the highlight of the show!


The year 2011 saw the introduction of Old Time Strongman within the USAWA.  It started with the first OTSM competition hosted by the Dino Gym in January, and ended with the OTSM Championships in Kirksville, hosted by Thom Van Vleck.  OTSM brought several new members to the USAWA this past year and I can see it continuing to grow. 


This was a “no brainer” for the NUMBER ONE highlight of the year.  The USAWA would not be the USAWA without the participation of membership.  This past year we accomplished something we have not done for over 20 years, and that is to exceed 100 members.  The final count was 103 members in 2011.  On top of this, we hosted a RECORD NUMBER of events/competitions with 25, and now have more registered clubs at 14 than anytime in the history of the USAWA.  This is ALL BECAUSE OF YOU, and the the support you have given to the USAWA.   I personally want to thank everyone who has contributed to these numbers.  The USAWA is “alive and growing” , and I predict 2012 will even be a better year yet!!!