By Kate Tobiasson, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Four local girls in Westborough have embraced their power, and are building a community with the help of their coach, Joe Black. The team hopes to help encourage young female weightlifters and to create a supportive network of women who aren’t afraid to break down barriers. Nikki Alexander, 16, Abby French, 15, Meghan Rohloff, 17, and Olivia Sassetti, 15, couldn’t be more excited about what the last nine months of training has done to change their lives.
“I love how rewarding weightlifting is, and how it makes me feel strong and powerful,” said Sassetti. “We owe a lot of thanks to Joe. The way that he runs practices and teams is amazing. He makes it fun, and safe. We look forward to practice all day long. I have had a lot of coaches in my life, but Joe has created such a great community here and makes weightlifting fun.”
The girls have spent the better part of the last year training, developing their form and changing their mindset about what it means to be strong. Months of training together helped the girls bond and has shaped the way that they think about team sports.
Rohloff explained, “I feel like we all connect – in some teams, when you go to practice, your coach and team expect you to perform. Here, with this group, we have support to our personal best for that day – whatever that is.”
“I think the community that Joe has created this year is different than a team sport. There aren’t smaller cliques within our team. We’re all really close, which is different from a high school sports team,” added French.
The team has begun to compete in weightlifting, and has found great success. Next month, Sassetti and French will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the America Open Series, a national event sanctioned by USA Weightlifting. The two qualified for the competition thanks to their results in a local weightlifting event in Franklin. While this certainly validates their success, the girls have found the most strength in one another, a community of like-minded friends who believe that women can set their own standards.
“I think that weightlifting for girls, in general, is something out of the norm,” French noted. “People don’t expect females to go to the gym and lift heavy weights. In 2019, this is where women are headed. It’s not about status quo, it is about being proud of who you are, and embracing muscles.”
These girls know that they might not be typical teens, but they hope to inspire others to dare to dream big.
“If someone had told me six months ago that I would be doing weightlifting, I would tell them that they’re crazy. I never thought that I would ever be where I am today,” said Alexander.
The girls confided that they love having boys from school come to the CrossFit, as the team often outlifts them. At CrossFit Prototype, boys and girls lift on the same floor, and these girls crush the competition. Aware of the power of their own bodies, they’ve trained together and work to continue to push one another each day.
“I feel like when you’re competing against yourself in weightlifting, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to put all of that weight above your head. It can be scary!” Rohloff admitted. “But when there are people cheering you on, and you’re with a team of people it is so much more fun.”
There’s no question that these girls are making substantial strides in the weightlifting world, as well as in their own personal development.
“I can’t wait to see where they go,” said Coach Black. “They are going to grow beyond their wildest expectations.”