Category Archives: USAWA Daily News

The Dreaded “Participation” Award

by Thom Van Vleck

Every so often I have this same conversation with Al Myers and Chad Ullom.  Since Al and I are pretty conservative and Chad went to the University of Kansas (the liberal bastion of the midwest) Chad likes to make fun of the fact that Al and I give out participation awards.  The way Chad sees it is that as conservative guys we should believe in “you get what you earn” and that “only winners get awards”.   This goes all the way to how they don’t keep scores in youth sports then everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season.  “Everyone is a winner” mentality that some think is leading to the downfall of America.

Now I’m picking on Chad a bit.  He’s not really that liberal…at least for a guy that went to KU!  But I think he does see it as contradictory that Al and I would believe in the idea you get what you earn then turn around and hand out awards to everyone.  The reality is I DON’T HAND OUT AWARDS TO EVERYONE! I never will!  You do get what you earn.  I also believe in keeping score, winners AND losers, and competition is healthy in all aspects of life.

So how do I believe in all those things and hand out awards to seemingly everyone that comes to my meets?  Here’s how I look at it.  When I went to boot camp we started with over 80 in my platoon.  We ended up graduating 66.  We lost almost 20 guys!  They got booted out along the way.  Some flat out quit, some got booted for not being good enough, I know blew out his knee and was saying he might not recover enough to come back.  In the end those that completed the task won the prize:  The honor of being called a United States Marine!

We also had a “Top Marine” award.  The award went to the guy that did the best.  We had a guy Levier.  He was the “Honorman” and his award was a meritorious promotion to Lance Corporal, a plaque, and a set of dress blues.  At that time you didn’t get dress blues out of bootcamp.  You had to buy your own unless you were assigned to a position where wearing the dress blues was part of your job, like and embassy guard.  So it was a pretty nice award.

The point is you had the “Overall” winner who was number one getting the top prize.  Then you had those that passed the test.  They had worked hard and accomplished what others didn’t dare to do or were unable to do for whatever reason.  They were all awarded the title of “Marine”.  I guess that’s how I feel about those that do what others won’t.  They go to the gym, work hard, then have the guts to sign the dotted line and then show up and put it all out there for everyone to see.  I would never give an award to someone who didn’t show up (and yes, I had someone ask for an award that didn’t show…..seemed to think his entry fee entitled him).  I also only give out ONE award that says “First Place” on it.  You better earn it by beating someone.  A few years back I had only one person show up for a class.  They wanted the first place award I had already made for that group…..NO WAY.  Sorry, but you didn’t win because you didn’t beat anyone. So make fun of me if you want.  I will continue to award those that choose to succeed.

Now, I’m going to take this one step further.  I think we have become a nation so obsessed with winning and being number one being the only acceptable outcome we are becoming a nation of drop outs or “never even tried’s”. I recently talked to someone who runs the amateur and pro strongman meets in the USA.  She told me that the number of women competitors has quadrupled in the past few years and she thinks eventually there will be more women than men competing in Strongman.  What are we going to do when that happens?  Change the name to “Strongwoman”?

The reason she gave is one I think is completely true.  She said that guys come in and if they can’t win, they won’t try.  They also fear embarrassment and if there’s one event that will make them look bad they won’t try.  The women, on the other hand, are ready, willing and able to risk failure for the chance at success.  They haven’t been indoctrinated to believe that winning is the only thing in live.  Personal success is their focus.  They check their ego’s at the door.

So, there you have it.  I hand out awards to everyone that completes the task.  You win when you work hard and finish the game regardless of who else showed up and how they did that particular day.    I have a lot of admiration for the guy that sets several Personal Bests over the guy that “mails it in” and wins.  So,  the only participation awards I hand out are those that participated in being successful.

Final 2014 Postal Series Rankings

by Al Myers

The USAWA has 4 postal meets per year (March, June, September, and December), with the last one being designated as the Postal Championships. All these together make up the Postal Meet Series. Each postal meet a lifter competes in generates points for him/her, that total up for the final Postal Series Ranking.

The way the points are generated is pretty simple. I take the overall placings of the meet and then reverse “the count” for the points earned for each lifter. I.E – if three lifters compete lifter number 1 gets 3 points, lifter number 2 gets 2 points, and lifter number three gets 1 point. The Postal Championships is worth “double points”. Obviously then, as more lifters enter more points can be earned for winning the meet, and ALL lifters earn points regardless where they place overall. Just entering will earn points toward the Postal Series Ranking.

Overall there was good participation in the USAWA Postal Meets last year. A total of 18 lifters competed in the various postal meets, which is the EXACT number of lifters who competed last year. The first Postal Meet had 8 lifters, the second had 13 lifters, the third had 7 lifters, and the Postal Championship drew 10 lifters. Several lifters competed in ALL of the postal meets last year and they deserve to be recognized. These lifters are Ruth Jackson,  Eric Todd, Denny Habecker, Barry Bryan, and Lance Foster.

Now for the overall rankings for the 2014 USAWA Postal Series!


1 Ruth Jackson 4 10
2 Crystal Diggs 3 3
3 Molly Myers 1 2


1 Chad Ullom 3 31
2 Eric Todd 4 26
3 Barry Bryan 4 25
4 Denny Habecker 4 21
5 Al Myers 1 16
6 Dan Wagman 1 14
7 Lance Foster 4 9
8 Randy Smith 1 8
9 Tim Piper 1 7
10 Logan Kressly 1 5

Congrats to Ruth Jackson and Chad Ullom  for being the OVERALL WINNERS of the 2014 USAWA Postal Series.    Ruth won EVERY one of the quarterly postal meets, and Chad placed 1st in the first and second postal, and second in the Postal Championships.

Postal Championships

by Al Myers



The USAWA Postal Championships is the fourth and final meet in our postal series.  It is considered the Championships, and is worth DOUBLE POINTS in the postal series rankings.  Our USAWA Postal Director, Denny Habecker, picked a great assortment of lifts for this championships.


Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip

Arthur Lift

Snatch – Dumbbell, One Arm (RIGHT/LEFT)

ENTRY FORM (PDF) – 2015 USAWA Postal Championships Entry Form

3rd Quarter Postal

by Al Myers



Denny picked an interesting assortment of lifts for this postal meet!  It also has an interesting “twist” to make it more challenging – whatever arm you choose for the Dumbbell Cheat Curl you MUST choose the other for the One Arm Deadlift.  Failure to follow this simple rule will result in a forfeit of a lift.



Curl – Cheat, Dumbbell, One Arm

Deadlift – One Arm (opposite arm)

ENTRY FORM (PDF) – 2015 3rd Quarter Postal Entry Form

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