Powerlifting is a Volunteer Sport
So I woke up very early and left the house at 5.30am to make the three hour drive to the Battle of the Border 2019 local powerlifting meet where I was one of the volunteers. I really wasn't sure what to expect as I had only ever been to one meet before as a spectator.
As we converged at the meet venue we were assigned our staff tee shirts and had to wait for the lifters' briefing that was led by my coach Nick, as he is a State referee. After that was the briefing for the spotters and loaders. I was assigned to the team on the heavy weight platform. Our team leader Justin had over ten years of operations and walked us though what we had to do.
Through the squats I was assigned to rack heights on the right side, while Justin handled the left side. I followed his lead as it took me a while to get to grips with the correct positioning and levering of the pins to move the rack up or down. On our platform there was a big differential in the heights of the athletes so the rack was going up and down a lot! I only had to jump in to be 2nd spotter for lifts over 500lb when two spotters are required on each side.
Half way through the bench I swapped with my partner to take over plate loading and spotting. I found the downside of my varifocals as it was sometimes difficult to be looking at the plates one moment and then having to quickly look at the screen to look at which other plates needed to be loaded. By the third attempts there were a lot of failures so me and the spotter on the other side had to grab the bar and re-rack it. Some of these were pretty heavy!
We found our loading groove by the deadlift and by the end we were operating like a pit crew! I was responsible for unloading and loading plates onto our side of the bar, while my partner would hand me the new plates and take away the ones I'd removed. We got our loading times to be really quick.
With only two fifteen-minute breaks and the event finishing around 4pm it was a long day and a lot of hard work. But it was also very satisfying to be a part of the smooth running of the event. I would definitely do this again (when not competing). As I have committed to competing my first meet it was also really useful to have exposure to the platform and the commands used in an official powerlifting meet.
The sport relies on an army of volunteers and if you ever have the opportunity I would highly recommend stepping up to volunteer.