Article by Mike Uva (WACH)
COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) — For former AC Flora students Shauna Webb and Taylor Smith, overcoming the fear of being some of the only female weightlifters in class is perhaps the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced in the weight room.
“Walking-in, it was just a whole lot of big football players, ” explained Webb, now a junior at the University of South Carolina on what her first weightlifting experience was like. “I was definitely intimated with that.”
Instead of calling it quits then, Webb continued to stick with it before quickly enjoying it. Such was the case with her friend Taylor Smith who admitted that having a lifting partner made the experience early on easier to adjust.
“She was taking (weight-lifting) serious so I said, ‘okay – let me buy into this a little bit,'” said Smith, who’s in her junior year at Winthrop University. “We started competing for the squat record and before she left she was getting close to it. So I was like, ‘okay – I’m (going to) get there. I’m (going to) get it.”
This confidence has become contagious at AC Flora. as Falcons strength and conditioning coach Micah Kurtz says the female participation is at an all-time high, as he begins his ninth year with the school.
“I think the stigma that girls don’t lift is going away more,” said Kutz. “I think you see it more on social media with a lot more females strength training.”
With Kurtz guidance and more girls giving weight-lifting a shot, many have walked away with a passion for it. Webb and Smith both study exercise science at their respected universities while many current AC Flora, including senior Jerry Delgado are interested in pursing very similar career paths.
“When I go to college, I wanted to major in sports medicine,” explained Delgado. “(Doing weight lifting), I’m around a lot of athletes. I just want to be able to help them one day.”