According to Assistant Director of Campus Recreation for Sport Clubs Mitchell Reum, powerlifting is a club sport at Princeton. As it is currently designated inactive, few people have ever heard of the club, but Emily Chang ’16 and Henry Meng ’16 are out to change that.
“Sport clubs will be permitted two semesters from the end of the semester they are deemed inactive to begin competing,” the Sport Club Handbook explains. “A club remaining inactive for two consecutive semesters will be removed from the sport club roster.”
Assistant Director of Campus Recreation, Fitness and Athletics Matthew Brzycki explained that since 1990, the year he started working at the University full-time, powerlifting has had an inconsistent presence on campus. This is the case for a lot of club sports, he added, whose enrollments depend on the interest on campus at the time.
“There was — I think it was two years ago — a fairly large contingent of students who were interested in powerlifting, and they were fairly competitive … in that they were reasonably successful,” Brzycki said. “They kickstarted [powerlifting] again, and then they graduated, and there was a lull for like a year or two, and so it went away.”
Chang and Meng each had an individual interest in powerlifting, but they found little interest once they got to Princeton. Luckily, they met each other.
“I started weightlifting last year on my own,” Chang said. “I got really into it — it’s a lot of fun. After meeting Henry through a mutual friend, we got to talking about [powerlifting] and being involved in it as a competitive sport.”
As they seek to make club powerlifting a presence on campus once again, Chang said that their community is not only open to intermediate and advanced lifters.
“It’s also very much open to people who have a vague interest in lifting. We definitely are open to complete novices,” she said. Chang also expressed a desire to see more female students get involved with weightlifting in general.
Chang and Meng are partially mimicking the process of creating a club, since they don’t have experience with other club sports according to Reum. He also explained that once a team is removed as a club sport, it has to go through the entire procedure to create a new one.
“We have a procedure by which the interested students put together information on governing bodies, local and regional competition, projected practice and competition space needs, projected equipment needs and projected expenses for their competition, practice, equipment and miscellaneous items,” Reum said. “Once the students believe they are ready, they present their proposal to create a sport club to the Sport Club Executive Council. The council then makes the decision on whether to accept the new team.”
The Sport Club Executive Council is made up of seven elected student representatives who are members of club sports.
Chang and Meng have been looking for meets in which they can participate with other prospective members of club powerlifting. The first meet they will be attending — in which they will compete as individuals rather than as a team — is on Dec. 7.
“To have active status as a club, we need to go to at least one competition, sending a team from Princeton,” Meng said. “That probably won’t happen with this upcoming meet, but we’re looking to do it in the near future when we can get more people involved.”
Brzycki explained that there are dozens of powerlifting organizations that host meets covering different niches, such as one which enforces a rule of using little to no supportive gear.
“The bad news is that it becomes a little confusing because you have to join that particular organization to compete in their meet often. The good news is, though, with all those different organizations, it’s opened up a lot more meets,” Brzycki said.
Chang and Meng have received support from Alice Zheng, a student of the University who is taking time off to work on a start-up and also has an interest in powerlifting. Zheng’s primary contribution has been trying to connect Chang and Meng with more experienced powerlifters, she said.
As of Nov. 25, the Princeton Powerlifting Facebook group started by Chang and Meng had 47 members.