Written by Taylor LaChapelle
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Powerlifting has always been a very significant part of my life and has helped shape who I am today. I’ve been involved in competitive powerlifting for the last seven years and have traveled all over the country and world competing in the sport I love. This travel has given me the opportunity to see amazing things, meet new people, and make new friends. It is also what led me to the decision to be a Sports Medicine Physician.
What first sparked my interest in powerlifting was when I was in elementary school, and my dad would bring me with him to the weight room. I was so excited in 6th grade when he showed me how to do some of the lifts that are involved in powerlifting competitions. I had to wait until I was in 7th grade to join the powerlifting club and be able to compete at regional meets, and I still remember how excited I was when I went to my very first practice. I quickly found out that I wasn’t your typical female powerlifter and earned the nickname of “Beast.” In my first two years, I was already taking first place at meets, and at the end of my eighth grade year, I qualified to be on Team USA. Only eight girls in the country are selected to be on this team, so it is a great honor to earn this spot. It is safe to say that I have been powerlifting year-round since then. Training year-round for powerlifting caused me to have to give up other sports like cross-country and track and field. I enjoyed these other sports, but I realized that I enjoyed powerlifting much more. The following four years of my high school career, I was selected to be on Team USA. I’m so proud that I was able to represent my community, state, and country not once, but five times in Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and the United States. I am also very thankful for all of the support my family and community has given me in order to get me to all of those places to achieve what I did.
My mom has always been my number one fan, but it is my dad who has been to every world championship with me and has been just as much of a coach to me as my team coaches. My first world competition was in Killeen, Texas, at age 14. I competed against two Russian girls and took home the Bronze medal. My second year I traveled to Oroshaza, Hungary. I was once again competing against the same Russian girl who had taken gold the previous year, but this time it was I who took home the gold medal, as well as the title of Best Lifter. It is an unbelievable feeling to stand on the podium proudly holding up the American flag while everyone stood for the playing of our National Anthem. When I arrived home, I was surprised with an escort into town from the Fire Department. As we pulled into the parking lot, the high school band was awaiting my arrival to play our school song as I entered the school.
Powerlifting hasn’t always been easy. During my sophomore year, I suffered a groin injury during practice. After taking almost one month off of practice, I still wasn’t healed and wasn’t able to participate in regional competitions for most of the season. It was devastating for me to not be able to compete after coming home a World Champion, but I wasn’t about to give up. During that time, I visited the chiropractor, had laser therapy treatment, and went through physical therapy as recommended by a sports medicine physician. I could’ve taken the whole season off to heal, but instead I decided to change my deadlift technique to a way that didn’t irritate my groin, and I went on to win another state and national title. I also qualified for Team USA again and traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to win another world title that same year. From this injury, I learned that there’s always something you can do, even when you think you’ve done all you can. You have to work through setbacks and failures in order to succeed.