Hello Members,

So, I should probably start with the news that you all may have read that I am leaving the organization after around a decade here on July 15 of this year, so this marks my first “Clearing the Desk of” rather than “From the desk of…”.

More seriously, taking this opportunity to reflect on the last decade I want to start by thanking our USAW Staff who have worked tirelessly across that time, particularly those who served under me as CEO of the organization of whom have been with USA Weightlifting for over 5 years during that time. Together, we achieved a great deal and I thank you for going on that long journey with me. Similarly, huge thanks due to our Board members, Committee members, donors, sponsors, stakeholders and volunteers. It’s not possible to thank everyone here, but I hope to be able to say thank you in person over the coming months.

Over that time we’ve seen historic results on the field of play with our best on-platform performances in over 30 years at the World level and Olympic level, historic financial results, the creation of the “DTCL” model emphasizing supporting individual athletes in a hyper-customized way with the personal coach emphasized, the creation of the North American Open Series, governance reform, the first independent ethics & judicial process, the first mental health program for athletes, becoming the leading NGB for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, large membership growth, the re-ignition of the USA Weightlifting Foundation, hosting twice the IWF World Championships, hosting the IWF World Youth Championships, Pan American Championships, the fight for reform internationally, historically large teams for both the Pan American Games and Olympic Games, historic membership growth and more. Looking to the numbers, we’ve delivered 95 medals since 2016 at the World level, and 4 Olympic or Youth Olympic medals. In that time we delivered a surplus of over $1.6m to the organization while achieving the highest athlete funding available in the Olympic & Paralympic movement.

All of that was achieved not just by me but by our staff and wider, our community. Thank you for giving me the privilege of leading this great sport for this period of time, and providing me. in another nation, with not only my employment but my life, friends and family for a decade. I can assure you that I will truly miss being a part of this every day, and I will be watching from wherever I may be!

So THANK YOU, all of you, even those with whom I’ve disagreed on occasion – for the support, welcome, challenge, questions, and being the USAW community over these last 10 years.

With that said, it is time to hand the baton to a new leader who can lead us into the 20’s, which will bring its own challenges. I think a fresh set of eyes in the CEO seat at this moment in time will benefit the organization greatly, and allow us to build on the success of the last 10 years. Our amazing USAW staff are part of that, and indeed might be that fresh pair of eyes if the Board of Directors so choose!

I do want to make one ask of our community. Stick together, times are challenging, for the sport domestically and worldwide. However, what has made this community strong historically is the culture in the community that we got right for so many years. Think about that, cherish it and bring it with you to the gym, to your local meet, to your coaching course. The positive, welcoming, respectful atmosphere of this sport is one of its’ biggest strengths, and I ask the community to return to that, and protect that.

So, moving onto regular business…

March saw USA Weightlifting once again at the top of the World number wise this time delivering, in partnership with Columbus Weightlifting, the world’s largest strength competition in Columbus, Ohio at the North American Open Series 1. What a great festival of Weightlifting that was, it was so great to see the community back together in its’ fullest format since the beginning of Covid-19. I also want to take a moment to thank Mark Cannella and Shelly Viets for their amazing work putting it together, as well as thanking the some 144 technical officials who made the event tick!

Some unreal moments, both at the grassroots and elite level. That amazing 163kg clean and jerk from Mary Thiessen-Lappen is an obvious highlight.

I will stop for a moment to address the scales at the Arnold/North American Open Series 1 and apologize. The scales provided were, simply, not good enough. We recognize that caused un-necessary problems for both TOs and athletes alike, and while we can ensure going forward this error will not occur again, we have to raise the hand and say “this was not good” on this occasion.

With that said, the biggest outcome of the weekend aside from smiles and celebrations of a community coming back together was the finalizing of our Pan American Championships team due to compete in Bogota this summer. Both teams look set to deliver a second consecutive full team at the Pan American Games, which is decided by the cumulative results between the 2021 and 2022 Pan American team placement. Our Women sit in 1st and our Men in 4th. However, the real story here is the strength of the US women’s team, it actually required around a 100% of NRS to make this team, what that means practically is you need to be able to medal to even go! Wow, simply, wow is the only way I can describe the Women of Team USA.

Speaking of that depth, we sent a solid team to Cuba to compete in the Manual Suarez Tournament, it is perhaps symbolic to have a US team competing in Cuba with the current Russia-Ukraine conflict. Led by a 41-year old mom from Idaho, who is not only an amazing person, contributes to many of our committees, and above all in this context is an amazing lifter (Kristi Brewer) who took this sport up in her 30s, the US took on the “A” teams of Cuba, Colombia and other Pan American powers and gave a very good account of the progress of US Weightlifting, congratulations team!

As you know, off of the field of play, of course my departure has been finalized, while we will see a new technical director named to the board on the last day of this month, good luck to candidates Cristina Gomez, Sara Soto, Maria Bernabe and Mario Dispenza, while we welcome Reba Lewis to the USAW Ethics Committee as an Athlete’s Rep, as well as Kristina Robinson as Athlete’s Rep for the USAW Judicial Committee.

As we look ahead to April, our Youth athletes at U17 and U15 levels will travel to Monterrey for a joint camp with the Mexican Weightlifting Federation, we thank Team Mexico for their collaboration and kind hospitality. For both teams, this replaces the same dates as the Youth Pan American Championship, which we anticipate will be postponed until later in the year.

Domestically, our Masters athletes head to Salt Lake City late in the month for the National Masters Championship, the pinnacle of the domestic calendar for Masters athletes, many of which will be hoping to qualify for the IWF World Masters Championships which this year will be hosted in Orlando, USA.

Lastly, our Junior World team is preparing to leave right at the end of the month for Heraklion, Greece where Sean Rigsby will be making his debut in his new role with us coaching the Junior team. Of course, Pyrros Dimas will be playing an interesting role here as the hero of Greek Weightlifting, as well as his responsibilities with Team USA.

So, while I leave – Weightlifting lifts on, and so it should be – Keep Lifting, USA, and remember #itcanbedone