Tag Archives: Dale Friesz

Year in Review

by Al Myers

Cover page for the 2013 USAWA Year in Review.

I’ve announced this in the USAWA Discussion Forum, but would like to as well in a blog so everyone is aware of the 2013 Year in Review.  I’ve compiled the entire year of 2013 in the USAWA (from all website stories) into a document for print.  I’m planning on taking it to the printers next week.  If anyone is interested in one of these “hard copies” please let me know so I can get a proper count for printing.  I only plan to do this once.  The price will be the cost of printing (I would guess around 50 dollars).  The book is over 400 pages long and contains all the website information from the past year – stories, meet results, etc.

If anyone would prefer just a digital copy of this – let me know and I’ll email it to you “free of charge”.

COURAGE AWARD WINNERS

by Al Myers

Art Montini (right) receiving the Runner Up Courage from President Denny Habecker (left) at the 2013 USAWA National Championships.

The Courage Award, presented on behalf of the USAWA, goes to an individual who “shows the courage to overcome an obstacle in order to return to competition.  This may be a comeback from an injury, or just having to deal with difficult personal issues but still shows the courage to compete in the USAWA.”

The Courage Award Winners for this year go to:

WINNER – DALE FRIESZ

RUNNER UP – ART MONTINI

Several months ago the USAWA lost one of the TRUE SUPPORTERS of the USAWA, with the death of Dale Friesz.  Dale was actively involved in the USAWA for practically the entire time since the organization began.  He was at almost EVERY National Championships, and it was obvious that his passion for all round weightlifting was beyond that of the normal USAWA member.   I miss our weekly email correspondence – Dale always had ideas on how to better our organization.

We all know Dale has been the perennial winner of the Courage Award since the program started.  His persistence to continue competition despite  battling physical hardships and barriers were like nothing I’ve ever seen before, of which I’ve covered in details in previous stories.   Last year at Nationals in Vegas Dale truly gave the grittiest effort on the platform I’ve witnessed.  However, I was somewhat surprised to see Dale gather the most votes for this years Courage Award, considering he is no longer with us on the platform. This goes to show the respect Dale had from his lifting friends and those members of the USAWA to receive an award like this posthumously.  I’ve said this before, but it would seem fitting that the Courage Award in the future take on the name “Dale Friesz Courage Award” as Dale has set “the bar” for deserving it.

Runner Up goes to Art Montini – Dale’s ole friend and competitor.  Art continues to amaze everyone with his active meet participation at the age of 85! At Nationals Art visited with me about plans to attend the IAWA Worlds in England this fall.  His enthusiasm for all round competition is more than most guys a QUARTER of his age!

My tribute to Dale “THE MIRACLE MAN” Friesz

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz made the trip to Las Vegas for the 2012 USAWA National Championships last summer. This was Dale's 20th National Meet that he has competed in. Pictured left to right: Art Montini, Al Myers, Dale Friesz

The USAWA will greatly miss Dale Friesz.   Dale’s passion for All Round Weightlifting and his love for the USAWA was “way beyond” that of  most lifters.  He was in a “class of his own” in terms of dedication.  Several lifters “come and go” in the USAWA through the years, but Dale kept steady with his never-ending involvement.  I want to take today’s story to share my tribute to Dale with everyone.  I know lots of the newer USAWA members are not aware of the things Dale has accomplished in the USAWA.   Dale stated in his USAWA Hall of Fame biography that he got started in lifting by the encouragement of his brother Leonard.  Leonard had a stellar lifting career, and at one time was competing in Olympic Weightlifting in the Missouri Valley Region.  I remember seeing Leonard’s  name in numerous  past meet results.  Dale was influenced into becoming involved in the USAWA by two legendary USAWA lifters, John Vernacchio and Bill Clark.  This was also stated in his HOF bio.  I want to mention this footnote as well – when I was working on the project to get all USAWA Hall of Famers to have a biography on this website I set out questionnaires to each member which I based writing their bios on.  Dale was one of “the few” who wanted to write his bio himself, which he did.  He told me in an email he wanted it to be written right! (which I took as him not trusting me to get all the important facts and details in it!!!!) .  

Dale receiving the award for winning the FIRST EVER Presidential Cup in 2012. Dale is on the left, with the USAWA President Denny Habecker on the right doing the presentation.

Dales first competition in the USAWA was on November 11th, 1989, in a meet in Valley Forge, PA hosted by John Vernacchio.  Dale’s first year of USAWA membership began the very first year the USAWA began collecting dues – 1988.  Since that time Dale has had a CONTINUOUS membership in the USAWA (26 years!!!).  Dale always joined before the membership year began, and often he was the FIRST MEMBERSHIP for the year I would receive.  That’s a testament to his strong connection and support to the USAWA.  Dale is one of only four USAWA members that has maintained continuous membership in the USAWA (Bill Clark, Joe Garcia, and Art Montini are the others) since the organization formed.  This makes him one of the CHARTER MEMBERS of the USAWA.  At this past year’s Nationals, a very special award was given to Dale.  It was called the “25 Year Participation Award”, given to the lifters that have participated in the most USAWA National Championships in the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Dale had competed in 20 out of the 25 Nationals!!!  That’s an amazing track record!!  The other winners were Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dennis Mitchell.  Dale only missed the 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006, & the 2011 Nationals.  I was glad to see him involved in our 25th Nationals in Las Vegas last June.  I met him at the airport and I could tell that the flight had taken a toll on him, but he seemed very excited to be there and able to take part in this very important USAWA meet.  No matter how Dale felt physically, he always seem upbeat and glad to be taking part in the competition.

Dale performing one of his favorite lifts, the Neck Lift, at the 2009 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in Lebanon, PA. This was the day that I got Dale to reveal his "neck lifting secrets" to me. He was the master of technique in the Neck Lift!!

Dale competed in several meets in Clarks Gym through the years.  His favorite was the Zercher Classic, which he competed in for the first time in 1991.  Dale had a good meet that day – placing one placing higher than Bill Clark!  The next year Dale returned to the Zercher and moved up a few places to fourth place out of 10 lifters (behind Steve Schmidt, John Carter, and Joe Garcia).  It was a tough field and had to be one of Dale’s best meets of his USAWA career. He raised his total by 735 pounds from the previous year. Then in 1994 he placed THIRD in the Zercher (his highest Zercher placing).    I know Dale was a big fan of this meet as he has provided me a complete historical review of all past Zercher Meets.  That’s one of the many reasons why I have often referred to Dale as the HISTORIAN of the USAWA even though it was a unofficial title.  He keep a record of this type of information and was always there for me when I had “questions”.  Much of the information on this website under the “history section” was researched and documented by Dale. Another one of his favorite “Clark Meets” was the Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen.  Dale has the distinction of WINNING the first ever Goerner Deadlift in 1995.  He beat such notable lifters that day as Rex Monahan, Joe Garcia, Al Springs and others.  I say it was one of Dale’s BEST EVER USAWA days – in addition to winning overall best lifter, he set his memorable 605 pound Neck Lift in a record setting session afterwards.  He was 55 years old and weighed 183 pounds that day. 

Recently I had received an email from Dale in which he commented how 2012 was, and I’ll quote him, “I consider this to be a decent year for me – as I broke 7 or so finger lift records (all previously set by someone with2 normal legs!), winning the Presidential Cup, and being named lifter of the month for August.  This made my efforts/pain worthwhile“.   He was looking forward to the year 2013.  Dale NEVER seemed to get discouraged, and always was thinking about his next competition.  I was so glad to see him win the Inaugural Presidential Cup last August.  His winning performance included a 154 pound Ring Fingers Deadlift with a prosthetic leg!  Later in the year I included this performance of his as one of the TOP TEN performances in the USAWA for the year 2012.  Dale sent me an email after that announcement thanking me, but he EARNED IT!

Dale performing the Pullover and Push in the 2010 USAWA Championships. This was the last meet Dale competed in before his leg amputation.

Dale has dealt with more physical obstacles than anyone I have ever known, and yet continued to train and compete.  The list is enormous and so long I have lost count.  But included is hip replacement, aortic reconstruction, back surgery with laminectomy, shoulder replacement, heart surgery several times, three heart attacks, numerous leg surgeries, and then the leg amputation.  I’m sure I’m missing many other health-related issues here.  It was common for Dale to compete in a big meet shortly after a major operation.  I remember once just a few weeks after open-heart surgery he was on the platform competing.  After his hip replacement, he was in a meet 3 months later.  This quote came from the Strength Journal from Dale before his hip replacement.  Dale said, “I always wanted to be like Tommy Kono and John Grimek and on February 12th, 2001, I’ll get me wish.  I’ll get a new hip.”  Dale always had a dry sense of humor when it came to things!  When he was staying at my place for the 2009 USAWA Nationals he “instructed me” on his medications so in case something went wrong I would be aware of what medicines he was on.  This was a list no shorter than 17 different pills!!!!  Dale’s mindset was like no other, and is the main reason he was awarded the Courage Award by the USAWA EVERY YEAR since the USAWA Awards Program  began in 2010. Before this, he was awarded the Ciavattone  Courage Award in 2004 by Frank Ciavattone, who gave out the award yearly to honor someone who showed great courage in remembrance of Frank’s dad.   I once  jokingly commented to Dale  that he’s won the Courage Award so many times it should be named after him when he’s gone!  Now…… I’m serious about that.

In 2009, the USAWA Nationals were held at the Dino Gym in Abilene, KS. Dale stayed at my house during that time and I will forever remember the stories that were told by Dale. This picture is from the meet of him performing a Cheat Curl.

Dale was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame in 2002.  His induction happened at the 2002 Nationals, held in Ambridge, PA.  I would like to share this story about Dale and his entering into the HOF by Bill Clark, someone who Dale had great respect and admiration for. ” When Dale Friesz showed up to lift at the USAWA Nationals in June in Ambridge, PA., USAWA President Howard Prechtel was prepared.  Dale needed to medal at the Nationals to be eligible for the Hall of Fame and Howard figured correctly that Dale would do that.  So much to Dale’s surprise, he was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame on the spot with the plaque already engraved in his name.  That Dale was even lifting in Ambridge was Hall of Fame material in itself.  In February, he spent 15 days in the hospital (six days in intensive care) and lost 21 pounds in 21 days from an already slender frame.  In a few weeks, he seemed on the road to recovery from what had been diagnosed as advanced vascular disease.  But, in May, along came what Dale called “Scary Story No. 2″ , viral heart infection, bronchial shutdown, pneumonia, liquid retention around the heart – back to the hospital for nine days.  And a matter of six weeks later, he was back on the platform earning his spot in the Hall of Fame.  I can assure you – no one was happier to be in Ambridge than Dale Friesz.”  – by Bill Clark in the Strength Journal Vol. XIII No. 3

Dale "in action" performing another one of his favorite lifts - the finger lift!

In 2006 at the USAWA National Meeting, the USAWA passed a rule requiring that all officials pass a Open Book Rules Test to be certified as an USAWA official.  Dale was the FIRST ONE to take and pass this exam.  He was one of the few LEVEL TWO officials in the USAWA.  He had a keen sense of the Rule Book, and kept up on it as things evolved.  Often he would “question” things in the Rulebook, and due to this, several discrepancies were found and corrected. Dale was never an officer in the USAWA, but his presence as a member exerted as much influence as any officer.  In my opinion, he was one of the TOP TEN most influential people ever involved in the USAWA.  He often served on committees, and provided valuable input.  His input on the HOF committee was instrumental in developing new guidelines for entry.  He also served on the Rulebook Review committee and was very helpful to me in the big Rulebook revision of 2009. In 2011 at my encouraging Dale registered his club with the USAWA.   He named it M&D Triceratops, and he was the only member.  Often at meets he would be wearing a ball cap or tshirt sporting his clubs logo.  I could tell this was something Dale was proud of, and it showed his commitment to the USAWA.

Dale’s favorite all round lifts were the finger lifts, the finger deadlifts, the Neck Lift, and the one arm deadlift.  I just did a USAWA record count of the number of current USAWA records Dale holds, and his count is at 160.  He holds records in 64 different USAWA lifts!  Dale was one of the original members of the CENTURY CLUB, a designation I gave to lifters who currently hold over 100 USAWA records.  The records he was most proud of were; 215# Ring Fingers Deadlift done at the 2001 Gold Cup, 354# Right Arm Deadlift done at the 1992 Gold Cup, and his 605# Neck Lift done at the 1995 Goerner. 

Dale’s National and World Meet Accomplishments:

2012 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 70-74
2010 Nationals 9th Place Overall
2008 Nationals 8th Place Overall
2005 Worlds Best Lifter Mens Master 65-69
1999 Nationals 6th Place Overall
1997 Nationals 7th Place Overall
1996 Nationals 10th Place Overall
1996 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 55-59
1995 Nationals 4th Place Overall
1992 Nationals 8th Place Overall

*plus numerous class/bodyweight National & World Championship awards*

Dale would often sign off his emails with these words, “Don’t let the USAWA die!!” That’s a promise that I will not let him down on. I owe Dale alot- he really helped me understand the historical importance of the USAWA and the philosophy of the organization. I will never forget Dale and his love for the USAWA and all round weightlifting. Often when I’m having a “rough day” in the gym, I think of Dale and the hardships he overcame with his lifting and it motivates me to keep positive and work harder. Afterall, my physical problems are NOTHING compared to what he endured when training!! I gave Dale the nickname “MIRACLE MAN” in several past blog stories. I know he appreciated that (he told me so) as it was given as a sign of respect to him in his ability to overcome serious physical  barriers miraculously.

Dale – YOU WILL BE MISSED! But I promise everyone this – I will keep Dale’s memory alive in the USAWA for as long as I’m involved.

Remembering Dale

by Al Myers

Today I would like to share several of the tributes to him from friends and lifters.  These comments have been taken from several sources – emails, facebook comments, forum comments, etc.  It is obvious that Dale had many friends in the All Round community, and that he was very well respected.  First, I would like to say a few things about Dale.  I’ve always considered him the Historian of the USAWA, even though it was an unofficial title. Whenever I had a question on something that had happened in the past in the USAWA  and I didn’t know the answer – I would ask him and he would know.  Often his answer included more information than I requested.  He had a “complete set” of old Bill Clark Strength Journals and kept everything well-organized as an historical archive. I will greatly miss Dale’s help!  I also could count on Dale to give me his “honest opinion” on USAWA matters.   In his weekly emails, he would always have some comment on USAWA matters on how he would like to see things done.  I greatly respected him for that, and took his issues “to heart” as he presented them in a reasonable, logical manner.  I have NEVER meant someone who had such a passion and love for the All Rounds as Dale.  Most would have given up lifting facing the physical barriers that Dale faced – but he kept positive and maintained his involvement in the sport to the best of his ability.  I will forever remember this about him. 

After meeting Dale years ago during an All Around Weightlifting competition, it was obvious to me this man had his focus on success.  Not only was I impressed by his determination, but his positive attitude was remarkable as well. As our USAWA events continued, Dale displayed his commitment to competition not only for his own results, but also attended them to remain a great motivator in the background for other fellow athletes. Dale’s strong spirit enabled him to overcome countless critical health circumstances. I’m certain his strength training background allowed him to activate positive improvements to his condition. In spite of all the suffering Dale had to put up with, ultimately his faith in positivity kept him going. Dale’s record setting attitude has to be a USAWA textbook example of how determination leads to success. Rest in Peace, Dale. May our Dear Lord comfort and bless your family.  – Scott Schmidt

My sympathies go out to Dale’s friends and family. – Lance Foster

Condolances. Rest in Peace, DaleEric Todd

I would just like to say that Dale was Crazy…but he is my kind of crazy! What I mean by that is I’ve been lifting since 1977 and competing since 1979 and I have no plans on quitting….ever! I will lift up until the day God calls me home and I hope there’s a lifting platform there or in my book that won’t be heaven! Dale was a guy that never quit. Even when he was on his last leg…literally…the guy DID not quit. I know some folks would think that was crazy, but I think it took courage. I recall Michael J. Fox, after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s doing an interview. After he listed all his projects the reporter said, “shouldn’t someone like you be resting more” and he got mad and looked at her and said, “RESTING FOR WHAT…” He then went on to talk about how he knew he had limited time and he had things to do…well, Dale had things to do. Most guys would have rotted away in some retirement village…Dale had things to do and I respect that. The next time I am too tired, too sore, too something to workout I will think of the great length Dale went to lift and I’ll shut up and train a little harder. I remember reading a saying that went like this, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “Holy &hit, what a ride!” That was Dale and some day (hopefully in about another 30 or so years) it will be me! I am a Christian, I believe in heaven, and I see Dale young, strong, and working on his Clean and Jerk. One of my favorite lines for “Gladiator” is, “I will see you again…but not yet, not yet”.Thom Van Vleck

My condolences go out to friends and family of Dale. – Troy Goetsch

Dale will be missed. I remember the first few years I lifted in the USAWA, Dale and I were in the same age group and weight class and we had some great battles. He was always there to give you advice and encourgement. He was a great competitor and a realy great and couragous man. Denny Habecker

Dale was a great competitor. I was fortunate to lift with Dale at Art’s Birthday Bash 2011 and recent Presidential Cup 2012. Dale was a fine example of never quit or give up.Barry Bryan

I was very sad to learn of the passing of Dale Friesz. Dale was known to several UK lifters who had met him at competitions in the US. Dale was a very nice man, and he performed some very good lifts over the years. He was one of the stalwart members of the USAWA and he will be sadly missed. Dale had suffered terrible ill health over recent years, but it did not stop his enthusiasm to lift. Even after losing a leg, he still battled his way on to the platform to strut his stuff.Steve Gardner

Never really got to know Dale that well on my travels to America, but a sad loss none the less. We have sadly lost a few of the old school lifters now. RIP Dale.Steve Angell

Oh how sad! Dale he was a nice guy! RIP Dale. – Cara Collins

Sorry to hear, another great lifter passes on. Big John Vernachio will have a bit of competition up there now. – Billy Bourne

Dale was one of the most dedicated lifters I’ve ever known.  I mean, I have seen the guy compete when he would have to hook up an IV between events to his pic line!  Dale dealt with many health issues the past few years, but he never let it get in the way of his lifting and competing.  I’m sure he gave his Dr’s fits! Dale was great to have at meets, especially during the meetings as he was not afraid to speak his mind and made sure to keep us on track and remind us the purpose of the USAWA!  Dale will be missedChad Ullom

Sad news of Dale. No doubt he touched and inspired many. From all here at All-Round Weightlifting Western Australia please accept our condolences on the passing of Dale. Although most of us have never met Dale, we have read and heard of his lifting career and battles.
“Passed friends and memories are but a thought away, Remember them often”.
Robin Lukosius and Members of All-Round Weightlifting Western Australia

I’ll always remember the many meets that Dale and I competed in together. He was always there to do his best and to help and encourage the other lifters. He was the most determined lifter I can think of. He never complained about his problems. He will be greatly missed. – Dennis Mitchell

Dale’s Funeral Arrangements

by Al Myers

This information was sent to me today  by Dale’s daughter Pam.  It includes the details of Dale’s visitation and Funeral.

Dear family and friends,
Thank you for your many kind words and thoughts for all of us. Here are the details for Dad’s visitation and funeral. The obituary will appear in the Washington Post and also in the memory book on
www.moneyandking.com.  Thank you,
Penny, Pam, Mark, and Karen

 
Thursday, March 21
Money and King Funeral Home
171 W. Maple Avenue
Vienna, VA 22180
Visitation: 2:00 – 4:00 PM and 7:00 – 9:00 PM
 
Friday, March 22
St. Mary’s Historic Catholic Church
Ox Road and Fairfax Station Road
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
Funeral Mass: 11:00 AM
Burial immediately following – St. Mary’s Church cemetary
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wounded Warriors or
St. Katharine Drexel Mission Building Fund
14535 John Marshall Hwy, #210
Gainesville, VA 20155
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