The Marshall powerlifting team will be in its fifth year running this season. Personal Fitness teacher and wrestling strength coach Ryan Wood started the powerlifting team in 2014 when he first came to Marshall.
Although powerlifting is not necessarily seasonal, Wood prefers to work with the powerlifting team during the spring because athletes are more available.
“We have kind of gotten away from doing the winter [meets] because we just have a good bit of people that are football players, or wrestlers or cheerleaders,” Wood said. “We just have a lot of winter and fall sports athletes. So we just try to put it in the spring now. We get more people out that way.”
Wood said he prefers that the powerlifting athletes be a part of one of his Personal Fitness classes to watch them train.
“In rare exceptions I have allowed people to do [powerlifting] that were not doing Personal Fitness,” Wood said. “But I’m also trying to get away from that because if they’re not in class, I can’t see them training. There’s been probably one or two exceptions, but in the future, I am trying to keep it just to Personal Fitness so I can be there to coach them and teach them everyday.”
He has never held any typical tryouts for the powerlifting team, but Wood would, instead, ask kids if they wanted to try powerlifting.
“In the past, I [would] go up to kids who seem to be very into fitness and working out, whether they are an athlete or not an athlete, and I just ask them ‘would you be good at [powerlifting]? Would you be interested in doing it?” Wood said. “Then they do it for a year, and they want to do it next year. Now it has gotten more popular. Kids kind of come up to me and ask me [to join the powerlifting team].”
Since the team’s start, there are more kids every year who want to get involved on the team, making Wood question if he should cap the amount of athletes.
“With 22 [athletes], that was a lot,” Wood said. “That was probably the most I could have to try and coach. I do not know what we will do this year. I do not know if we will cap [the team]. I would hate to cap it because I think powerlifting is one of the sports that is for everyone, whether you’re an athlete or not an athlete, whether you’re female or male.”
Senior Owen Usowski said he thinks other kids around Marshall should join the powerlifting team because of how much he has enjoyed his experience.
“It is so fun,” Usowski said. “The meet is amazing. You just go there, and you have a lot of support from everyone on the team. You just go up and lift your weights, and it is pretty great.”
Senior Kayla O’Brien said she has enjoyed being on the powerlifting team because she has learned so many things.
“[Powerlifting] has taught me a lot of lessons,” O’Brien said. “It is a lot of fun. It has made me a lot stronger. It has taught me to be very dedicated, very disciplined, compassionate, all the good things. It also helps with my wrestling. It has also taught me to be very […] motivated.”
The powerlifting team is not a VHSL sport, nor is it a club, but rather it is in the middle ground between the two.
“[The powerlifting team] is kind of in [between VHSL and club sport status],” Wood said. “There is just a lot of red tape around clubs, and I don’t want to put a lot of restrictions on things. Because we’re not school sponsored, and we do [meets] through other [powerlifting] federations, it wouldn’t make sense for it to be a club.”
The powerlifting team is one of the most unique programs in Fairfax County Public Schools, as there is no other program like this.
“As far as I know, there’s no other school with an actual powerlifting team,” Wood said. “We are the only one’s doing it, so it wouldn’t be a VHSL sport. It is kind of like an in between kind of thing.”
The powerlifting team no longer has any practices, although there was a time when they would regularly do so.
“We used to train during physical fitness and after school every Friday,” Wood said. “But we don’t do that anymore. We just do everything during personal fitness.”