Date Change of 2015 High School Powerlifting Nationals




If you haven’t heard by now, the date of the 2015 High School Powerlifting Nationals has been changed to March 26-28, 2015.

The process of changing the date of this meet has been 6 months long!  Here is my take on the story that took place to change the date.


The Impetus


During the Louisiana State meet held in West Monroe, LA (March 2014), I got a chance to speak to John Burford, head powerlifting coach of Covington High School.  John was a great High School (Slidell) and Collegiate (LSU) powerlifter who is now an excellent coach and a future leader in this sport.

During our conversation he mentioned that he was looking at the USA Powerlifting website (calendar) and noticed that the date of the 2015 High School National was set for March 19-21.  This was also the date that (he thought) was set for the 2015 Louisiana High School State Powerlifting Meet.


Time started ticking.


I reached out to Tonya Lambeth, meet director of the 2015 High School Nationals in Milwaukee.  She confirmed the date of March 19-21 was set and that a contract had already been signed with the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport.

While the date was not officially on the LHSAA website (at that time), I set out to confirm that both contests were on the same weekend and to learn the process of date selection for future Louisiana Championships.  Boy, did I get an explanation!

Yes, both meets were scheduled on the same weekend.  It didn’t take long for the LHSAA/LHSPLA to explain the process and to lay out a foundation for future schedules (More on this in our next article).


Time was ticking.


2014 High School Nationals in Killeen


Just a week later, the conflict in the schedule became part of the conversation in Killeen.  The number of side conversations about the date conflict were probably exhausting for Tonya.  She was there to referee and cheer on her son competing as well as to prepare for the next year’s nationals.

With 43 lifters from Louisiana present, including three very strong teams from Lutcher, ASH, and Covington, they left a significant mark on the meet. Several Texas teams, such as Carrizzo Springs, Calallen, Dilley, and a handful of individual Texas all-stars, resulted in the meet being highly competitive and deep with talent.

Coach of the girls Necedah, WI team title, Eric Mach, was eager to pronounce the 2014 meet as being the most competitive girls meet in his 13 years of fielding a team at nationals.  It truly was an amazing meet to watch and experience.  The team centric meets such as High School and Collegiate Nationals make them the best in the world.


Time was ticking.


The Email

After nationals, the persistent John Burford sent one last (humble and heart-felt) email to Tonya expressing his thoughts and optimism regarding the situation (I have condensed with his approval):

Ms. Lambeth
    My name is John Burford and I am the Head Coach of powerlifting at Covington HS in Louisiana…. I’m sure you’re aware this conflicts with the 2015 High School national meet…I am writing to ask you if there is anything that can be done about the date of the 2015 High School Nationals. I know putting this meet on is a monumental task in itself and changing the date would require much more effort. I am not making this request carelessly….but if there is anything that can be done I know many coaches, kids, and parents would greatly appreciate it.
John Burford

It must have worked.  “The email John sent was the tipping point in me exploring the movement of weekends,” stated Tonya.

“My heart has been heavy since Killeen about the dates. [I] just need to work with hotel and other parties on Monday.”  – Tonya Lambath, Meet director of 2015 High School Nationals.


The Grind


Hosting a national competition is no easy task.  The hotel and venue contract may be the most critical “make or break” issue for meet directors.  It is also one of the first tasks to be completed.  For many meet directors, securing a facility is finalized immediately after the approval of the respective committee recommendations at the annual USAPL National Governing Board Meeting.  I would guess that is an average of 18 months in advance.  That is long-term planning.

The same long term planning is a prerequisite trait needed for directing a successful and memorable national competition.  I look forward to the implementation of Tonya’s ideas in directing a memorable meet.


Time was ticking.


The first phone call was to find out if the hotel was available the next weekend, without causing alarm (for them).  To no surprise, it was not available.


Enter the Coin Dealers – “The Metalist”

The South Shore Coin Club (Numismatists of Wisconsin) were planning to have the only thee-day (and largest) coin show in the state on that weekend.

You can’t make this up.  The slogan of the coin show is “THE BIG SHOW” which has ironically been the slogan of several powerlifting meets throughout history (Duane Urbina – ASH – 1997 comes to mind).

“The Big Show” was a big challenge for Tonya over several months.  Just as Tonya was moved by John Burford’s (humble and heart-felt) email, so were the organizers of the largest coin show in Wisconsin.  She discussed the options of swapping dates.  They were open to the idea and began communicating with their stakeholders to explore the date change.


Time kept ticking.


After a sincere effort by the South Shore Coin Club, talks stalled when the organizers started loosing venders with the potential date change.

After several months of talking with The Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau, multiple commercial venues, and local high schools the optimism of making the move reality had not wavered, but options were dwindling.

Tonya met with the Crowne Plaza again to discuss additional options.  One last negotiating round took place. We may never know the details of exactly what happened during these negotiations, but the Crowne Plaza Hotel agreed to help work through the obstacles.  I can only imagine that some or all parties made a sacrifice to make this happen.

The very last step was to get approval by the Wisconsin State High School Powerlifting Association (WHSPA), which is serving as the host organization of the competition and USAPL, the sanctioning body of the competition.

Without hesitation, these organizations agreed that this move was the best for the competition and future growth of the sport.

What a win for High School Powerlifting!


A search for the “Medalist”

The driving force in this process:  A fierce resolve to create the most competitive high school powerlifting meet possible and provide opportunities for young athletes.  I think it is that simple.

It is now time for the “medalists” to step up in this process.  That is you!  The details have yet to be laid out, but the commitment should start now.

The bar is loaded and time is ticking.

Are you ready to commit?




Many thanks to Tonya Lambeth (and many others) for making this happen.  Feel free to comment below and show your support.