06 Aug The FSU Weightlifting Club – The Past, Present and Future
This post was written for a friend of mine, Josh Chamblin, who is about to open Capital City Barbell, Tallahassee’s premier powerlifting gym just off FSU campus. He’s been an asset to the FSU Weightlifting Club since his tenure as a student athlete and is continuing to support them by hosting their team at his new facility. By giving them a place to lift Josh has alleviated the burden of finding a facility, a big aspect of a sport club that has been inconsistent throughout the clubs history which I will get into in this post. He’s allowed their leadership to focus on other important details of running a student organization, helping ensure their ability to impact young lifters for years to come. Supporting Josh and Capital City Barbell is supporting the FSU Weightlifting Club, so please feel free to read the history of the club and how it ended up at Josh’s facility and go check out the newest, strongest gym in Tallahassee.
The FSU Weightlifting Club was founded in 2007 by a small group of people that had a similar idea, that there needed to be a place FSU students can go to lift with other strong, smart, like-minded individuals. Since there had never been such a club on campus in the history of the school, heavy lifting enthusiasts were found interspersed with casual lifters at the main campus gym, the Bobbly E. Leach center. It isn’t difficult to spot somebody lifting a lot of weight, so I soon met Caleb Bazyler (currently pursuing his PhD in sport physiology and performance at ETSU) who knew a guy on campus that had connections with the clubs at both Florida Atlantic University and University of Florida. He introduced me to Stephen Ferraresi shortly thereafter (now Dr. Stephen Ferraresi, recent graduate of FIU College of Medicine), and within a few weeks we were a Registered Student Organization.
The clubs inception wasn’t without its hurdles. The Leach Center rules stated there was no group training allowed in the facility, and that rule was interpreted by Leach Center staff to prevent members from even being gym buddies (if you’re wondering how that was enforced, there were rumors of our pictures printed by the front desk). We were diligent in our search for an on-campus facility but we came up empty handed for the first year or so, in the meantime focusing on strongman style training in our backyards.
It wasn’t until 2010 that our club advisor Dave Plettl (Master Strength and Conditioning Coach, tennis and womens basketball) put us in contact with Gei-Nam Lim and Chip Heimbach, assistant directors at FAMU Tooke’s Recreation Center. With their help we found our clubs first home (FAMU is a neighboring University and a 10 minute drive from FSU campus). Chip and Mr. Lim understood our goals and knew the importance of having a stable training facility. In return we helped start the FAMU Weightlifting Club which is still active to this date. Their hospitality allowed us to host three competitions, two of which were USA Powerlifting sanctioned events and national qualifiers. There is no doubt that without the help of our friends at FAMU there would be no FSU Weightlifting Club today.
During our duration at FAMU we were fortunate enough to draw the attention of the original squat scientist, and a well known and well respected strength researcher, Dr. Mike Zourdos (pursuing his PhD at the time). Dr. Zourdos and I had been acquainted in the early days of the club, and he was the main motivator of our initiative to start hosting powerlifting events. Around the time we hosted our first event (in which he both coached and competed), he slowly began to assume the role of head coach. By the time we hosted our next competition he was programming for nearly our entire team while concurrently conducting data collection on a number of our athletes for his dissertation. As his data collection tapered off and our third meet at FAMU had been hosted, an opportunity arose for the club to have its first spot on FSU campus to train. We kept in touch with our friends at Tooke’s and headed over to Seminole territory, and the FSU Muscle Lab was born.
The original FSU Muscle Lab was a classroom converted to a data collection area for Exercise Science department research, the same area Dr. Zourdos collected data for his PhD dissertation. It was a great opportunity for the members of the club to be exposed to evidence based strength training philosophies, as well as to volunteer as guinea pigs for interesting research that was being conducted at that time. We were able to hold onto the room without issue for the rest of my tenure as WLC President, but that didn’t last much longer. Shortly after I left, the following club President Carlin White (the mysterious blurred blue figure in the picture above) was given word that the Exercise Science department was going to re-purpose the space and it needed to be vacated. They were able to retain the space for about another year but the constant state of flux prevented the club leadership from being able to focus on hosting events and traveling to meets, and reduced hours didn’t help to maintain membership.
Carlin’s presidency ended in spring of 2013, after which we had a couple great leaders take his spot, Mike Taylor in 2014 and Joey Carzoli who is due to hand over the reigns to our next president very soon. From 2013 until today the club has been able to find a facility, but not without periods of months in between spaces with no place to train as a group. If Florida State is expected to maintain its dominance in Florida powerlifting, and add to its multiple state championships, national trophies, individual national champions and world team members, it must be able to call some place home. As a past FSU Weightlifting Club president as well as a Florida State alum, I’m happy we can call Capital City Barbell home and hope it lasts for years to come.
There’s more history of the FSU Weightlifting Club on its way, keep an eye out for posts by club presidents and other people who have been instrumental in its success both past and present. Thanks again to Josh Chamblin for giving us a place to train as a group. It will prove to be a defining moment in the future history of FSU powerlifting.