Anyone who reads anything newsworthy on the internet knows the inspirational story of Dick and Rick Hoyt. Dick, a pursuant father with a dream to give everything he can to his son who suffers from spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy due to complications at birth is the impetus of humanity. They knew at an early age Rick was cognitive, though practitioners said his condition was unsurvivable. After more than 10 years of struggle to give their son the same opportunities to other children:
“In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped." “
Its that kind of commitment that every son hopes his father can provide to them. The opportunity to be on a level playing field, no matter the circumstance. Recently I received an email from two very able bodied men, one a little more seasoned than the other. Bill Gibson, the dad, had been involved in weightlifting in various fashions for the better part of 25 years. When his oldest son Zach approached him with an interest in lifting, Bill jumped at the chance to induct his son properly. They reside in Messena, NY just minutes from the Canadian border.
They both developed a want to compete in powerlifting and thus began the search of finding an event that fit their needs. With no sanctioned events in any federation for a 150 mile radius it made it challenging. They found an unsanctioned meet at Potsdam University in New York and decided to give it a try. Together they found a training routine that they understood; a proven Westside 12-week program. Bill, a 275lb masters competitor had a new PR of 415lbs while his son Zach who competes in the teen 13-15 hit a PR of 225lbs at the “Touch and Go” event.
Now that they had an event under their belts, they wanted to take it to another level. “After being officially Bitten by the Iron Bug,we knew we wanted to try an official sanctioned event. We searched on line and decided on the Syndicated Strength Alliance,Iron Asylum Meet in Tribes Hill New York at the end of April. I decided to do the bench only portion but Zach wanted to compete in all of the events.”
“While in Syracuse NY for a hockey tournament they found themselves a legitimate powerlifting facility at Hercules Gym. Hercules Gym is the home of some truly Amazing powerlifters. Zach and I had never even seen a Monolift or 200lb dumbells in person. There was a Saturday morning bench crew lifting with shirts, board, chains, etc. Nationally ranked powerlifter Rheta West introduced herself and even took a half hour out of her training to work with Zach and I on form and training. During the next 6 weeks we kept in contact with Rheta with training and nutrition questions and she was more than helpful with her advice.”
With that advice, terrific focus and sheer determination, Bill and Zach competed in their first sanctioned meet at the Iron Asylum Meet in Tribes Hill, NY. Bill set a SSA NY State Masters Record State Record in the 40-44yo 275lb class. At 14 years old, Zach nailed a 285lb squat, a 235lb bench press and a 335lb deadlift. “The competition was great,we were amazed at how helpful and supportive the powerlifters were. The following week we competed at the Spring Potsdam State event. Zach had another PR with a 250lb bench and I was able to do a 405lbs (bench) with a near miss at 420lbs.”
With success in raw powerlifting events, Bill and Zach decided to up the ante some and try an equippedmeet. Immediately, as would be expect, Zach hit a 285lb PR bench in the gym in only his third time in a double-ply shirt. In an attempt to better learn the use and abilities of their new equipment, they traveled 3 hours to train in Syracuse with two of the games best. “Scott Rowe and Rheta West are two great examples of what the sport of powerlifting is about. With their advice and tips Zach was able to increase his shirted Bench press to 315lbs for 3 (at 15 years old) and increase his raw squat to an easy 315 for 3.” Zach then set his sights on the IPA New York State event in August. There he has a good shot at setting the World Record in the Bench Press for that federation in his age, weight and division.
When I asked Bill what mattered the most to them during this course of new found joint enthusiasm, he said: “I would like to thank my wife Peggy for being so patient with us, for being our training partner, for the incredible high protein meals but mostly for the encouragement and support. The sport of powerlifting is an incredible experience, and with the age classes and weight divisions it is a sport for anyone.
I will follow up on these two's adventure after their event in August. My best to Bill and Zach. If you are a father, take the time to share something important with your kids every day. It is clearly a rewarding experience for everyone involved. If you have a story you would like to share with Strength Central, email me at [email protected] and tell me your story.