Tag Archives: Hall of Fame

Bob Geib – New Inductee into the USAWA Hall of Fame

by Al Myers

Bob Geib (center) receiving his USAWA Hall of Fame Plaque. Presenters include Al Myers (left) and Dennis Mitchell (right).

The big HIGHLIGHT of the USAWA Annual Awards Presentation was the induction of Bob Geib into the USAWA Hall of Fame.  The Hall of Fame is the highest honor one can receive in the USAWA, and there is not a person more deserving than Bob Geib.  Bob has been involved with the USAWA since almost the very beginning.  Bob got started in the USAWA under the guidance of USAWA legend Howard Prechtel. I’m sure Bob spent many hours training with Howard in the Prechtel Athletic Club in Cleveland developing his skills with the all-round lifts. I know this because Bob has frequently mentioned Howard to me, and gives Howard credit for getting him involved in the USAWA.  Bob also often traveled with Howard to big National and World meets.  At this years Nationals, Bob even brought a plaque honoring Howard to the meet venue, so in a small way Howard Prechtel was a part of this years big 25 year celebration.

This brings the USAWA Hall of Fame membership to 23 members over our 25 year history.  So you can see it is hard to reach Hall of Fame status – that’s less than 1 new member every year.  This award is not just HANDED OVER – you have to earn it!   Bob has quite the resume of USAWA involvement.  Dennis Mitchell (a fellow Cleveland native who has known Bob for a long time) gave Bob’s  induction speech.  In his speech, Dennis summarized Bob’s involvement which I would like to share with you.

  • Competed in the USAWA Nationals 14 times –  2012, 2011, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991
  • Competed in the IAWA Worlds 9 times – 2005, 2004, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991
  • Competed in the Gold Cup 8 times – 2005, 2004, 2003, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991
  • Bob promoted the IAWA Gold Cup in 2005 in Hawaii.  He also competed in the very first Gold Cup which was promoted by Howard Prechtel in 1991.  He has competed oversees 5 times – England three times, Australia once, and Scotland once.
  • Currently holds 77 USAWA records.

Soon I will write a complete biography on Bob for the USAWA Hall of Fame archives.  But in the meantime – CONGRATULATIONS Bob on this big honor.  You are now part of the elite USAWA crowd. You deserve it!!

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.

Scott Schmidt is Inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt "relaxing" prior to the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

A highlight this past weekend at the National Championships occurred Saturday after the meet, when the membership was sitting down to the Annual National Meeting.  This highlight was that Scott Schmidt was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame.  I feel Scott’s induction was a big step forward for the USAWA, not only because Scott is more than deserving of the most prestigious award the USAWA has to offer, but because Scott’s induction marks the rebirth of the USAWA Hall of Fame program, which has been inactive since 2003. As I have said already, Scott is more than deserving of this Award and HAS  BEEN  for several years. He put in the work and effort to be in the Hall, and it is about time the USAWA gives him the credit he deserves (and earned!).  Scott has won numerous National Championships and quite a few World Championships in his journey to joining the elite club of the USAWA.  He is a holder of over 100 USAWA Records. He has participated in Gold Cups. He has always supported local meets. He is a club founder. He helps out fellow competitors.  Scott epitomizes a Hall of Famer – and is the type of athlete and individual all others should strive to be like. The USAWA will ceremonially induct Scott into the USAWA Hall of Fame at the Gold Cup in November. Congratulations Scott – the USAWA is very proud of you!

Scott Schmidt performing the Hang Snatch at the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

The words below are Scott’s words of appreciation:

Greetings, All

I wanted to send this note of appreciation out to express my sincere thanks to all those in our administration and voting members who granted me the privilege of entry into our USAWA Hall of Fame.

I have been competing in our favorite strength sport of weightlifting for many years. I know when our organization set the standards for Hall of Fame eligibility, it was a target I embraced and aspired to achieve. So, I set out on a mission to build my credibility, one contest at a time. Although we all know the work is hard, the satisfaction over rules the pain involved. Slowly but surely, I stayed on course to produce results. Winning results. Record results. The achievements necessary to get to the top. What a journey! When I came to this years National Championships, I was well trained to hit my numbers I set out to do in each lift. But as we all sat down to have our annual meeting, I was totally unprepared when Al Myers announced I have been elected into our Hall of Fame. At that moment in time, I really did get choked up. Big Ol’ Scotty Boy. Speechless. Now there’s a first! After the news sunk in, I felt a great sense of internal pride. Joining the class of great champions, who I compete with and against. What a feeling! As a motivational summary to those of you who enjoy competing, take my advice:

Set your goals high, and good things will happen. It may take a little time, but when you hit your target, the feeling is fantastic!

Stay Strong,

Scott A. Schmidt

Hall of Fame Biography – Bill Clark class of 1999

Bill Clark

William Merle Clark was born in Clinton, Missouri on August 18th, 1932.  He graduated from Clinton High School in 1949, and then spent three years in the U.S. Army (1951-1954), including a year in Korea.  Bill graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1958, and worked briefly on the sports desk of the Lexington Kentucky Leader.  He returned to Columbia Missouri in 1958, where he has lived since.  Bill married Dolores Denny on August 11th, 1955 and they have five children and five grandchildren. He was a full-time major league baseball scout for 36 years (1968-2003).  He retired from baseball at the end of the 2003 season and has been a columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune since March of 2004.  Bill has written for numerous baseball publications through the years and even worked as a sports reporter in the baseball off-season.  He has officiated over 20 sports from the junior high school level to the international level from 1949 until today.  He wrote the original Powerlifting and All-Round Weightlifting rule books and is currently writing a book about the fun of officiating more than 10,000 athletic contests.  As a member of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) weightlifting committee (1959-1990), he was responsible for the origin of the following:

– Powerlifting as a separate sport (1964)
– Masters lifting, both Olympic Lifting and Powerlifting (1973)
– Held the first womens only Powerlifting and Olympic meets which gave the   start to women’s competitive lifting (1976)
– Introduced prison weightlifting and the acceptance of inmates as full AAU members (1966). Held the first prison weightlifting postal competition (1962)
– Created the odd lifting record book (1961)
– Formation of the USAWA and the IAWA (began in 1983, finalized in 1986)
– Wrote the first USAWA and IAWA Rule Book (1986)

Bill started weightlifting in 1959 when his boxing team was looking for an off-season sport.  There was not a state meet at the time, so he held the very first one in Columbia in 1959.  He held the Junior Nationals and the National Teenage Championships in Columbia from 1962-1964, including the “Mr.” contests for each, along with numerous state and regional meets both in Columbia and in many prisons throughout the Midwest.  He has directed over 100 meets under USAWA sanction at his gym, Clark’s Championship Gym, including the USAWA National Championships in 1995, 1997, and 2001.  Bill has been the sole sponsor of the Showme State Games Powerlifting Meet since 1988.  Both Bill and Dolores are in the Missouri State Games Volunteer Hall of Fame.  He has had a commercial gym in Columbia since 1987, which is one of very few commercial gyms in the country that specializes in All-Round Weightlifting.   Bill was the first President of the IAWA and has been the Secretary of the USAWA since the beginning. He is responsible for starting the drug testing program and the certification of officials in the USAWA.  Bill has published a weightlifting newsletter since 1960, and is now nearing his 50th year!  The past 19 years have been devoted to the all-rounds, with his publication “The Strength Journal” being the sole source of information regarding All-Round Weightlifting in the US.   Bill’s main contribution to weightlifting  was the origin of the masters program.  The idea came to the table in 1973 at the AAU convention, and was approved by a laugh with the mention of old people wanting  to lift and compete.  In 1974, only four lifters  entered the National Masters Meet – Jim Witt, Jack Lano, Wilbur Miller, and Bill Clark.  The Meet was cancelled that year.  In 1975, the meet was held in Columbia with 15 entries.  Today, the masters program is found in 70 nations and accepted without question.  Master lifters outnumber open lifters in the US today.  Bill was one of a half-dozen people who brought Powerlifting to the committee floor of the AAU in 1962, and saw it approved two years later as a sport by the AAU.  Today, Powerlifting has expanded far beyond Olympic Lifting as a sport.  In 1976, Bill violated the IWF rules which limited lifting to males only, and worded a sanction which made a combined Power/Olympic lifting competition into an all-female meet.  It broke the gender barrier and women’s weightlifting was off and running.  Bill commented, “In retrospect, I take pride in being the driving force to establish Powerlifting, women’s lifting, prison lifting, master’s lifting, odd lifting – and seeing them all grow and prosper.”  Bill holds over 200 records in the USAWA, with most of them occurring after multiple joint replacements. Bill said, “I do take pride in my hip and harness lifts that were done after four joints – both knees and both hips – were totally replaced and being able to remain competitive with the youngsters in the finger lifts. Age and replacements have slowed the competitive urge today, particularly with the loss of cartilage in both the upper and lower spine.”  In his earlier years, Bill was best known and seldom beaten in the Zercher and Steinborn lifts, once doing 460# in the Zercher and 455# in the Steinborn on the same day.  There has not been an USAWA member since capable of doing this.  When asked if he had any special memories of a competition, Bill replied, ” The one I most remember was in 1994 in Middletown  Pennsylvania when I made a hip lift with 1400 pounds, less than five months after I had a double joint replacement – the right knee and the right hip on the the same day – a double only a few have tried!”  Bill Clark will always be known as the “Founder of All-Round Weightlifting”, and his influences and contributions to the iron game will forever be felt.  His last comment was this, “It has been a good 50 year run in the weight game. I’m now looking for time to go through voluminous files and to do a book I’ve promised myself for years, titled, An Irreverent History of Weightlifting.”

Hall of Fame Biography – Dale Friesz class of 2002

Dale E. Friesz was born on July 30th, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri. As the son of a career Army Colonel he traveled a lot as a youth. His family spent two tours in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.. Dale has lived at the same address for the past 35 years – 11523 Wild Acre Way, Fairfax Station, Virginia, 22039-2117.

Dale did his undergraduate and graduate work at George Washington University in Washington D.C.. He spent 11 years as Director of Human Resources for Fairfax County before taking over the family owned shooting sports business.  He ran it for 21 years until his retirement.

Dale has been married to Penny for 43 years. They have three beautiful children – Pamela, Mark and Karen. They also have a great son-in-law Mark, one lovely daughter-in-law Christine, and two beautiful grand children Ansley and Cody. Dale believes his family is his greatest treasure.

Dale Friesz at age 19

Dale learned about Olympic lifting from his older brother Leonard. Dale taught himself to be an Olympic lifter. It was at the 1960 National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships at the University of Maryland that he first met fellow USAWA Hall of Famer, John Vernacchio. In 1963, at the Junior Nationals in Columbia, Missouri he was introduced by his older brother to Bill Clark.  In preparation for entering Bill Clark’s Masters Olympic Weightlifting at age 39, he again started Olympic lifting. Dale stayed with that style of competition until back and shoulder problems put him on the shelf at age 45.

210 pound Snatch at age 19 at the 1960 National Collegiate Championships

Dale was inspired by Bill Clark’s writings to join the USAWA and is a charter member. The bug to lift again took hold and against medical advice (birth defect in back and a bad shoulder) he entered his first all-round meet in 1989.  He has won 18 Masters National Championships, and has placed in several open all-round competitions – which includes the Zercher Meet, the Heavy Lift Championships, and the Deadlift Dozen. Dale has created more than 150 USAWA records.

Dale attempting a 360 pound One Hand Deadlift at age 54 (85 kg class)

Dale is most proud of his Right Hand Deadlift of 353.6 pounds at age 52 in the 85 kilogram class and his Neck Lift of 605 pounds at age 55 in the 85 kilogram class. When these lifts were made they were not only masters records but also open records. Dale also like all the Finger Deadlifts and holds a wide range of records in each weight class from 75 kg to 90 kg.  He received the Francis D. Ciavattone Sr. AWARD FOR COURAGE in 2003.

Dale doing a heavy Neck Lift

Since 2002 Dale has spent nearly as much time in the hospital with a variety of life threatening issues as he has spent trying to train. Yet as recently as May 2009 he did a 405 pound Neck Lift record at age 68 in the 85 kilogram class at the Heavy Lift National Championships.

Dale believes, as does his primary physician, that weightlifting is responsible for him being alive. Dale thanks Bill Clark for having the sagacity to create masters weightlifting competition!!!

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