(Team Iron Knight at the Europa Games)
This past weekend, at the 2018 IPL Inzer Europa Powerlifting Championships in Orlando, Florida was my first official time as a USPA State Referee. I had so many nerves leading up to it. By nature, I am more reserved and cautious but I’ve been really working on becoming more confident in not only my abilities but also my faults- meaning owning them, working on them but not apologizing for them because we don’t need to apologize for who we are but we should always be growing and getting better.
Not only was I judging my peers, I was asked to MC a few flights this weekend, on a dual platform meet. Nervous does not even cover how I felt about all of it. As I stood and fanned myself on Saturday morning waiting to find out when and where I would be stationed that day, the meet director and USPA Florida chairman, Richard Ficca (who I will be talking about a lot in the post because he’s become my powerlifting Yoda and Mr. Miyagi) looked at me and asked if I was ok. I told him I was fanning myself because I get hot when I’m nervous and he looked up from his computer and asked me two questions. He asked, “Do you believe, I trust you?” To which, I replied, “YES” in my loud, child-like high pitched voice, like a little league tee ball player responding to their coach/dad. Then he asked, “Do you believe that you worked hard to be here and you belong here?” I also replied yes to that question but I got a little teary-eyed because I realized how much I meant it. I have worked really hard to get to where I am. All too often in my life, I’ve felt like I was lost and just going where the wind took me, not really sure where I belonged but when it comes to powerlifting and GWPL I have learned to make sure moves, be adamant in my decisions and become confident in my place. That 3-minute pep talk was exactly what I needed to start my day. I sat in the refs' chair for 3 flights, helped with expediting and computers and MC 2-4 flights this weekend and even when I made a bad call in the head chair, I stood by my decision. I was rattled a bit and choked back some tears because of how the matter was initially handled (let’s just say not every referee is diplomatic) but again, Rich in his Yoda like way explained my error but also that it happens and all we can do it learn from our mistakes.
Being a head judge is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt as though I was literally had these lifter’s lives in my hands. I needed to make sure that I was calling the start and rack commands efficiently so as to not make them hold the amount of weight on their back for too long but also not too early so the other judges had enough time to fairly judge the lift. I was literally sweating from my palms. On top of all that trying not to get distracted by everything else, including some of my team members competing on the opposite platform and worrying whether or not my husband and my little brother were getting warmed up. It’s sooooo much to take in. Needless to say, when that flight was over, I was mentally exhausted and ready to be done with my referee responsibilities for the weekend, even though they weren’t and I still MC’d another flight. I’m not gonna lie, I cried a bit due to high anxiety that needed to be released but I sucked it up in time to cheer on my crew! And they did so well!!!
The moral of this emotional roller coaster of a story is that we have to give back to this sport that we love. It’s a small world and a tight community but if we don’t continue to volunteer as referees and support staff at meets one day this sport that we all love will be not be able to survive. Get to know your local meet directors and offer your help. Sometimes, we as lifters can get so caught up in prepping for meet after meet that we forget that without those people we would have nothing to prep for or we’d have to travel long distances to be able to compete. Being behind the scenes of a powerlifting meet is a crazy, chaotic world and requires an army but I urge you to become a part of it because it will make you a better athlete.