VERO BEACH – After two years of going it alone, senior Andrea Splendoria is thrilled to finally have some company on the St. Ed’s varsity girls weightlifting team.
Bear in mind it was hardly a case of Splendoria mailing it in as a solo performer. She carried the school banner all by herself into Sectional Qualifying meets as a sophomore and junior, advancing to the state tournament in the 119 lb. weight class one year ago.
That state appearance speaks volumes to the commitment Splendoria has for the sport. Moreover, she works hard at it, understanding the benefits derived from strength training. It’s just that teammates make the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
She knows – she had two, way back as a freshman.
“I’ve finally got a taste of what it’s like to be a team captain,” Splendoria said. “I help out with the little things. I learned a lot from the guys I was around in the weight room before I had a team. They encouraged me and rooted me on. It helped a lot. I’ll do that for my teammates now.”
Splendoria must rub her eyes in disbelief to see as many as five more girls – real teammates – working out every afternoon.
“The tables have turned,” she said. “They are all nice and fun to be around. It definitely adds a new flavor to the weight room.”
A big thanks for the increased participation must go out to the lacrosse team.
Head coach Les Rogers explained the motivation behind the spike in interest.
“I think some of the lacrosse girls realized that strength training would be very helpful for them in their athletic endeavors on the lacrosse field. They decided to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Temporarily laying down the sticks in favor of pumping iron are junior Maddy Blakeman, sophomore Chloe O’Haire, and freshman Olivia Blakeman.
The sport of volleyball is represented by junior Ashley Brown.
Seventh grader Mackenzie Marsocci joins the varsity as a pure weightlifter (along with Splendoria).
Already a prolific scorer on the lacrosse field, Maddy Blakeman seems to be at home wherever sports and competition reside.
“It’s just a good time,” she said about lifting. “The three of us wanted to get stronger for lacrosse. And it’s fun. I like sports, no matter what it is. There is nothing like this. We’re getting ready for our first meet. I’m looking forward to it.”
That seems to be the case across the board.
“Everyone will compete,” Rogers noted. “This is new to most of them. These girls are picking up the technique involved in the clean-and-jerk very quickly. The idea is to perfect the technique, then go on to gain strength and do well in meets. The enthusiasm they have when they’re in here working out is just amazing.”
Rogers obviously had a highly dedicated individual to work with and coach for the past two seasons and he has seen that pattern continue on a larger scale with the newcomers.
“These are varsity athletes, so they know what it takes as far as work goes,” he said. “It’s refreshing to work with athletes who really want to be here and improve. Their work ethic is exceeding my expectations. It’s truly incredible how coachable they are.”
The coach acknowledges some invaluable assistance from within the ranks.
“Andrea has already taken on a leadership role by helping the girls with their technique,” Rogers explained. “As far as getting one of my points across, sometimes she does a better job than I do.”
For Splendoria, the prospect of attending meets this season could be a mixed bag.
“I’m not going to beat myself up to get back to the 119 lb. weight class,” she says about what may ensue from the inevitable maturation and growth process.
“My chances of going to states (in the next weight class) aren’t as high. If I don’t get to states, hopefully some of the other girls can. I’m definitely going to try to just have fun this year. It’s my senior year. I’m not going to decrease my efforts.”
On the other hand, she will gladly guide her teammates through territory she has become familiar with and traveled with ease.
Splendoria remains undecided about joining a club team near her next academic stop, The University of Tampa.
Regardless, she will continue to work out year round. Weight training has become a permanent part of her lifestyle.
“I want to stay strong and look like somebody who can hold her own. To feel right, I can’t miss time at the gym.”