Creating the first USA Weightlifting club in Mississippi didn't happen overnight nor was it easy. Our long-time followers know our history but for those who are just finding us we've compiled a time line of Olympic weightlifting in Mississippi.
- Mississippi Barbell was formed as Mississippi Weightlifting Club
- We started with old Crossfit bars (non-weightlifting bars) and only one other athlete aside from Coaches Sheppard and Smith
- We traveled to multiple local CrossFit gyms every Monday to help athletes at those gyms for free. For six months. Never asking for a dime.
- We had our first "team" compete at local meets (Tyler Smith, George Baladi, Melissa Bogaslowski)
- It was the first year we attended the Gayle Hatch Christmas Meet and we took 2nd with the little team that could. We only had male lifters at the event.
- Samantha Poeth and Jason Poeth became our friends and mentors
- Our first shirt design was sold
- Justin Thacker and Pat Mahoney came to Jackson for a two-day weightlifting clinic from The Lab Gym
- We hosted the first meet in the history of the state: The Mississippi State Weightlifting Championship. The Poeths, Gayle Hatch, Matt Bruce, and Justin Thacker all helped to make the event happen. It was featured in Dennis Reno's long-standing weightlifting publication. The local news also came out for the historical event (or they just wanted to film 2004 US Olympic Coach Gayle Hatch who was attending)
- We traveled 7 hours to St. Louis to have athletes qualify for national events because no other clubs were hosting any near us
- Our first national teams attended events: Universities, American Open, and Masters
- All were the first Mississippi teams to attend the events
- Our name was changed to Mississippi Barbell
- We were approved for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status thanks to local CPA Derrick Garner. All funds were used to secure registration, lodging, and travel arrangements for our National athletes as funding allowed.
- Remote training access was introduced
- Dex Hopkins gave us a home at Mississippi CrossFit. We first trained in a small two platform room before moving outside the walls on to three platforms.
- Coaches Sheppard and Smith became Level 2 Advanced Sports Performance Coaches
- Coach Sheppard shadowed Matt Bruce, Danny Camargo (assisted with USAW certifications as well), MDUSA, and Jon North
- We traveled to gyms conducting clinics and seminars
- Jessica North wore our tank top
- CrossFitters Dex Hopkins and Marilyn Kelleher represented us at South Central Regionals
- Chiropractor Clayton Pitts became our Official Team Chiropractor
- Local artist Tim Addison designed the long-standing fan favorite Reaper shirt logo and photographed the event (as well as all subsequent state meets)
- Local graphic designer Lauren Mashburn designed our state meet logo
- Coach Smith became a licensed Occupational Therapist (he is also a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant)
- Coach Sheppard began writing forStrength Agenda
- Female lifters joined the team and helped us win 1st place Men and Women at the Gayle Hatch meet that year
- We hosted the first USAW Sports Performance Course in Jackson
- CrossFit 601 South was our home for a while; we had four platforms. Before that we were within CrossFit Fossil Fuel.
- The team traveled to LSU Shreveport at the request of Dr. Kyle Pierce to train at their facility
- Coach Sheppard was chosen to be on the USAW Judicial Committee and began writing for the Catalyst Athletics' publication, Performance Menu
- Our first intern coaches passed their evaluations to join us as Assistant Coaches (Janice Marie Ferguson and Melvin Jensen)
- We garnered our first masters national and international medals
- The Club and Coach Sheppard were featured on USAW's website
- George Baladi became the first Mississippi native to represent the state at Junior Nationals
- We had our first clinic at a local high school
- We attended our first Mississippi Coaches Association convention
- Two weightlifting athletes (Dex Hopkins pictured) participated in the CrossFit Games
- We formed our USA Powerlifting club and team winning individual State Championships, state records, National medals, and having Ray Williams join the team
- The team competed in their first Highland Games event in Jackson, MS
- Coach Sheppard became a licensed attorney
- Our team took first place at the Gayle Hatch Christmas meet
- Team USA Skeleton team member Allen gave us our first international Skeleton medal
- Our current facility grew to 8 platforms, 14 bars of various weights, a power rack, and multiple pulling blocks/jerk blocks
- There are now 4 other Mississippi USAW Clubs; we remain the largest
- The third annual state meet was held
- Coaches Smith and Jensen were elected to positions on the Southern LWC
- We continued to host local mock meets
- We partnered with Gulfport Crossfit to bring the first USAW meet to the Mississippi Gulfcoast: The GPX Open
- The largest teams we've had from Mississippi attended Junior Nationals
- Athletes qualified for all major national events
- Our first international powerlifting medal was procured (and a World Team spot)
- Our Youth program grew to include girls and boys from ages 6 through 12
- Coaches Sheppard and Smith collaborated on another Performance Menu article (Training Special Populations)
History In A Nutshell
4 years of operation.
57 current athletes.
33 qualified for national events.
3 CrossFit Regionalists.
4 masters medalists.
2 international powerlifting medalists. 2 CrossFit Games athletes.
1 international Skeleton medalist.
1 World Champion.
Mississippi's First and Largest USAW Organization
Every week we will publish a new blog on a variety of Olympic weightlifting topics. Contributors will include our coaches as well as Guest Posts.