We were so lucky to interview Alica Webb, and learn more about her experience in powerlifting and how it has impacted her life. Alicia was full of great stories and advice and we hope you enjoy reading her interview as much as we did!
Well first introduce yourself to the GWPL Community
My name is Alicia Webb (pronounced Al-Lee-See-Ya). Most people pronounce it wrong, so they call me Le (pronounced Lee). I lift in the 84kg weight class in the open and Masters 1. I am 47 years old and have been competing about 5 and a half years. My best lifts in competition are squat 200kg/440 lbs, bench 112.5kg/253 lbs, and deadlift 200kg/440 lbs. My favorite lift is by far the squat (front, overhead, and back)!!!!
How did you find powerlifting? Were you always a Raw competitor?
I was never really competitive with others but super competitive against myself. I was the strongest female lifters at CFD and in the top 5 of the strongest men. I always routed and worked alongside the slowest to keep them motivated, sometimes the slowest person was me and someone would work alongside me to keep me pushing. The owner of Crossfit Decatur, Eric Willis told me I should compete in powerlifting and that it was a God-given gift. When he saw that I was not budging in my decision, he came at me spiritually. God would be so disappointed in me for not trying it and giving it my all!!! Who in their right mind wants to be a disappointment to God? So he along with my coach at the time, Ben Benson found a meet in Warner Robbins, GA October 2012, for me to compete. It just so happened to be a USAPL meet directed by my now powerlifting coach, Josh Rohr. With no powerlifting training, I only crossfitted, I came in 2nd in my weight class and 2nd best female lifter losing 1st place by 2.5kg.
I have only lifted raw. Watching others get in and out of their gear and seeing the bruises the gear leaves behind has encouraged me to stay raw!!! Hats off to those that can endure the pain!!!
You started out as a CrossFit athlete, do you still do CrossFit? If you do how do you think it impacts your powerlifting.
I CrossFit every chance I get, at least 1-2 time a week. My WOD is usually modified, tailored specifically for me, but that is why I love CrossFit. It is made to benefit the individual. Crossfit is what made me strong and there is a lot of carryover from lifts, movements and accessory work to powerlifting. I would not be a powerlifter if I did not or could not CrossFit. It may be more of a mental thing, but for me, I need daily variation including workouts that knock me off my feet while lying in a puddle of sweat trying to catch my breath. And the community is like no other, it drives you to be your best and do your best. When CrossFitters finish their own workout, they don’t leave, they turn and cheer on the others who are still working to finish. It is the best atmosphere to be in, especially when you want to give up, others know you got it in you to conquer and finish. A lot of times, CrossFitters that are finished will jump in next to you and finish out your reps/runs with you so that you push to finish!!! It is exhilarating, especially because the last ones to finish change daily, due to the strengths/weaknesses of the athletes within each WOD. I understand that it is not for everyone, but it is for me!!!
Can you share one of your most memorable powerlifting moments?
In 2014, I competed in Raw Worlds in Potchefstroom, South Africa. It was my first international meet. I got there three days before I actually competed to become acclimated to the weather and area. In the days preceding the competition, I met and continuously ran into the African staff of the hotel daily. The morning of the meet, I was walking down one of the halls from checking my weight and an older heavy-set African mother from house cleaning was coming towards me. We had past pleasantries previous days. When she approached me smiling, I said good morning and she asked if today was my day. I said yes Ma’am and she reached out and touched my stomach. As she rubbed my stomach, she looked into my eyes and said, “Everything you need is in here. It is time for you to birth it.” I knew exactly what she was saying, it connected down in my spirit. I continued to smile, said thank you and instantly went into silent prayer as I continued on my way to prepare to lift. Upon completion of my day of competing, the awards ceremony was held. I won the Gold for the USA. As the room stood for our national anthem, something happen that I was totally aware of. The room became cloudy, and as I looked around the room, every African worker had stopped their duties and watched me on the top podium. The room became even more cloudy and as I looked up I felt the glory of God fill the room. It was if He had taken His mercy seat right above me and all I could do was stare at all of the Glory. Before I knew it, I was in total tears and knew at that time, I had accomplished what I had come to do. Most people might think it was winning but for me, I knew at that exact moment, I had made GOD proud. I have always put God first and foremost, and through my humbleness, there was nothing better than to have my Father join me on the platform. This was/is not a religious experience but it was truly a spiritual experience that I feel every time I relive it!!!
Have you had any challenges or setbacks during your powerlifting career? If so how did you push past those?
Yes, the biggest setback was suffering from a strained piriformis for 3 years. It was so painful that I could not stand, sit or lay down without being in immediate pain. I went to 2 different sports orthopedics, my therapeutic massage therapist, 2 different physical therapists and a chiropractor all at the same time. Everyone specialized in something different, so I was well-taken care of but with being a diabetic, my body took a longer time to heal. I still lifted through the process, trying not to push my limits. When the pain subsided, I found myself in the worst place than before because I remembered the pain is so severe that I was too nervous to trust my body without pain. It has taken me until recently to have a serious talk with my inner self to decide if I would push past the memory of the pain. For me, everything is visual, I have to see myself do it to be able to do it!!! I brought back meditation in my life and I have been pushing my limits ever since.
The biggest challenge I have had to deal with is not being present at activities for others. I have a large family and friend base. There is always a celebration going on. I have to pick-n-choose what I can and cannot attend, and that sometimes makes me sad. I want to be everywhere but it conflicts with my goals and aspirations. To be my best, I have to be dedicated and focused. My love ones/circle understands that and pushes me even when I don’t want to push. Example, my close sister/girlfriend had a birthday dinner & dance celebration and did not invite me. When I found out about it, I became curious and asked, why was I not invited? She looked me dead in my eyes and said, “You are training for your competition and it is too close. I don’t want to distract you. I want you to do well and I know we will celebrate after the competition. I already know where I want to go!” I had to laugh. Now that is unconditional love and support that people wish for!!!
I remember reading before that you are a math educator, both teaching high school students and also educating future Math educators. How do you balance those areas of your career and powerlifting?
That is a great question and I would have a different answer for you at different times of the year. Sometimes there are some sleepless nights where I am grading or creating, but I have another teacher that we work very closely together, kind of like, Yin & Yang, without the bad, we do all of our planning together. I am the math expert and she is the bits and pieces person for slower students to grasp the concepts. We pick up where the other left off and respect each other where they are. I do not let anything get in the way of my “me time.” My lifting is where I release the load of the day. I relax and reflect continuously during this time. Many days I have posted that my gym time is the best part of my day!!! I live for that high daily!!! Everything else works around it!!!
Did you always know you wanted to work in education?
Funny…. If you had asked my mother, she would have said, “My baby is going to be a teacher because when she was a toddler she would line up all of her stuffed animals and teach them daily.”
After completing a career inventory in middle school, I was told my career path would be education. I fought it tooth and nail. Not because it is a bad job, but because teachers are not paid what they are worth and society does not respect the field. I wanted to be rich, so I pursued Architectural Engineer, which was my major when I started college. I had a very profound experience at Notre Dame University that showed my love and passion for applied mathematics and I changed my major. Upon graduation from Clark Atlanta University, while teaching classes for one of the professors, I was offered a teaching assistantship and a research assistantship to go to graduate school. I took it and have been teaching ever since. The University offered me a full time teaching position, but instead, I took a position as an adjunct professor so that I could continue to teach high school as well.
Has powerlifting impacted other areas of your life? If so How?
Most definitely. I have had many firsts in life compared to my immediate family. I was the 1st to work away from/and be independent of my father and his businesses growing up. I was the 1st to leave home to go away to college. I was the first to gain so much weight that I developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. I was the first to be told that my life expectancy to live was low and quality of life was questionable unless I changed. I saw the world as a half-empty glass. Focusing on the negative and what I did not have or were not privy too. Complaining to my older sister, she gave me a better perspective, she said, “Why not you, what makes me better than anyone else?” She changed my view and I changed my life.
Without all of these firsts, I would not be the person that I am now. I was the first to commit to change. I was the first to be consistent with working out at the gym. I was the first to work with a nutritionist/dietitian. I was the first to find a way to control/reverse all of my illnesses/disease. I was the first to lose weight without medication or surgery. I am the first to give advice on pursuing your goals and dreams. I am the first to become an educator (3 in the family now). I am the first to show what I can do instead of tell/talk about it. I am the first to be the example for others to follow and supersede. I am the first to help others. You may ask, why am I telling you about my firsts instead of how powerlifting has affected/influenced my life. If it had not been for CrossFit and powerlifting, I could not have had the positives that affected me first, I may have even been defeated and given up. Not only did powerlifting change my life, It gave me life!!! And even if I one day give up competing, God help me, I will always lift! Lift what? you ask... Lift weight and lift up others!!!!
It has been so exciting to watch as the competition in the 84 open class continues to grow and become more competitive! How has it been getting to not only watch the growth but be a part of it?
I have always cheered for others to be their best, just as I strive to be my best. I am excited to see where the raw strength goes. The bar is always being raised, people are always pushing their limits and the best is ever changing. I am so honored to be a part of the evolution of raw powerlifting, by strong & intelligent women!!!
What is one piece of advice you would give to a new lifter?
My advice is to record everything…ie, food, programming, sleep hours, how you feel while lifting, your actual lifts on video, etc. Review and reflect on what is going right, what can be done better and seek help to get you there. And the biggest thing piece of advice is… have fun!!! Choose fun over fear!!! Too many lifters get caught up on other peoples numbers. I find it better to concentrate on your own numbers and try to beat yourself daily!!!
Anything else you want the people to know?
I am bashful and quiet… until I warm up to you… then we are good… and I might talk your ears off!!! I love kids and for some reason, they love me too- LOL!!! People say I have a good, kind and sweet spirit, that is beyond my years!!! Also, I am a perfectionist with myself!!! That could be good or bad!!! I have to remind myself that we all have room to improve no matter how good we are!!!