By JASMINE JESSO
Special to The Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – At the Base Gym/YMCA in the 70’s is where it all started. As a kid, Hayward Young started powerlifting, with a few mentors like George and Jimmy Power who were powerlifters. According to Young, Stephenville and Bay St. George were basically put on the map for Powerlifters.
“Back in those days Jimmy Gallant won the Worlds at 148 pounds.” Others were winning medals at the Nationals, said Young. “And it just grew from there.”
Not having many options for powerlifters to go to in town, Young, Don Cormier and Neil White talked about getting their own place to open a Powerlifting Club in Stephenville, just like they had back in the day. Their attitude about the idea was exactly like the Field of Dreams movie, said Young, ”Build it and they will come.”
And that is exactly what they did.
“We started from scratch. Basically we had an ER (weightlifting) bench and that was it,” explained Young. “We had some weights.”
But the club also lucked out when the person they had sold all their YMCA equipment to a few years ago sold it back to them, plus extras, all for the price he had paid.
“Now we’ve got more weight than any gym around,” said Young.
The group received overwhelming support not only from the community but coast to coast, and even from down in the United States, who all showered the Stephenville-Bay St. George’s Power Lifting Club with donations and ticket sales from their fundraising events. The list of contributors is quite lengthy.
“I mean it’s phenomenal,” said Young.
The power lifting club is a non-profit, meaning there are no employees, and it must rely on volunteers.
“Even the cleaning gets done by parents or members,” said Young. “What we plan on doing with any surplus money in the building fund, (it) will go to equipment for the gym. We still got our separate fundraising that goes to help kids and adults go to meets.”
Young added, “We don’t cover the CPU (Canadian Powerlifting Union) stuff, but we cover registration when they go and we try to limit out-of-pocket costs for them when they go on meets.”
Amber Milley is a former member who went to the World’s and won the Commonwealths as a sub-junior. Milley attended the meet at no cost to her, thanks to the club’s support. With a powerlifting meet coming up in St. John’s in September as well as the Eastern Canadians in Sydney, NS and the Canadians back in St. John’s, the club is gearing up for a busy year.
The grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 21 had a lot of community support with a few special invited guests.
These included Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose, MHA’s Scott Reid and Tony Wakeham, Stephenville Councilor Don Gibbon Sr., Stephenville Crossing Councilors Cynthia Downey and Sharon Bennett, Bob Byrnes, Scott McNeil, Elias Basha and many more.
A few volunteers who also pitched in to make the grand opening run smoothly were Kim, Isabella and Tyra Nolan; Joy and Aiden Davis; Dionne and Julianna Young; Tracey Seaward; Neil White; Don Cormier; Linda Cormier and Julie Lucas.
Qalipu Chief Brenden Mitchell was also present at the powerlifting club’s grand opening. He made a donation on behalf of Qalipu First Nation, as well as a personal donation. Mitchell also challenged MHA Scott Reid to match his personal donation, to which Reid happily agreed. Scott McNeil from Tabletop Chiropractic and Elias Basha also made donations, all of which totalled $1,000.