College is a great way to explore opportunities that weren’t available to students in high school. Clubs, intramurals and student government are the some of the outlets for students to meet people that have similar interests as them.
But if like-minded students can’t find that outlet, they can create a club of their own.
At the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, a group of students unofficially started a weightlifting group during the Fall 2015 semester. They would go to the campus recreational facility and utilize the platforms. As the group gained more interest, the students decided to pursue a sports club recognition by the University so they could continue to have a motivating environment for interested lifters.
In the Fall of 2016, the University of Florida officially declared the Gator Weightlifting a sports club. This allowed them to expand their club’s awareness in the student community which, as a result, grew their group to the 20 active members. Most of these members are around the ages of 18-25 and are trying Olympic weightlifting for the first time. As a University club, they emphasize student growth and motivate each member to give their best effort. They recognize the importance of creating a supportive environment, especially when an athlete is learning a new sport.
Gator Weightlifting has a few lifters currently competing on a national level. So far, they haven’t hosted a local meet, but they have begun planning a meet during the Spring 2018 semester.
“We expect our club to continue to grow and bring in talent from the University of Florida and surrounding Gainesville community,” Gator Weightlifting Club member Andrew Layne said. “We envision that tin 5 years we will be one of the premier club sports at the University of Florida and a top weightlifting club in north-central Florida.”
Layne encourages those looking to find a club that they should pursue it. It may be difficult in the beginning to gain membership and exposure to the community but if people are passionate about weightlifting then it will work out in the end, Layne said.
Gator Weightlifting has been supported by other clubs, gyms and coaches in their surrounding area. Layne encourages starting clubs to find connections and utilize them. They can help build your foundation to becoming a successful club.
Gator Weightlifting says that by being a USAW-affiliated club they can not only receive recognition and promotion but they also have the ability to connect with other clubs and lifters in their area. The support from other clubs will help them host future meets and grow their club.
Gator Weightlifting wants prospective athletes to know, “If you are a student/potential student at the University of Florida and are interested in competing or learning how to lift, feel free to reach out to us or join our Facebook page: Gator Weightlifting. Since our club is new, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to get involved and take on leadership roles.”