Team Iron Sports is a very unique club on campus. It is a combination of three major groups of individuals: bodybuilders, power lifters and strongman athletes. Just this past weekend, four of the strongman competitors traveled down to Tunica, Miss. to compete in the North American Strongman National Championships. Pat Davidson, an assistant professor of Exercise and Sports Studies, is the coach for Team Iron Sports and was also able to compete himself this past weekend.
“Our top athlete, Rob Kearney, placed second place in the country in the 231-pound weight class,” Davidson said. “Jen Auty, our sophomore female, competed in the middleweight group and placed fourth. Zach Hadge competed in the 200-pound class and finished in the top 10, and I also competed in the 175 class and finished ninth in the country.”
Though this is not technically the first year of the club, this is the first year that Team Iron Sports is really an actual “team” activity.
In years past, it was more of an individual activity where the athletes would go in and train on their own. Now, however, the team has been training under Davidson’s guidance since the beginning of the fall semester. Davidson even began working with some of the athletes last December on a program design and specific training protocols. Kearney, a senior, was one of the four athletes to compete in Tunica, Miss. this past weekend, and though the conditions were at times rough, he knows that it was well worth it.
“It was a great weekend, seven events over two days, absolutely brutal conditions. We started off at eight o’clock in the morning both days,” Kearney said. “When we started off, it was around 50 degrees, by the time we were done at around noon or one o’clock it was about 80 degrees. It was hot and cold, a lot of rest time in between events, trying to get ready for events and get amped up to compete.”
What makes Team Iron Sports so different from the typical team sports on campus is that, while most sports lift weights frequently in order to get stronger for their sport, weightlifting is Team Iron Sports’ sport. They specialize in resistance training and use that to achieve their goals.
“It’s just different methods specifically that allow us to reach our ultimate destinations,” Davidson said. “We come together as a group, because so many of us have a common passion for resistance training, nutrition and overall fitness.”
Kearney, who competed in the lightweight open division (231-lb and under), is competing for his lightweight pro card and was satisfied with his second-place finish this year. An entertaining ESPN special is always the “World’s Strongest Man” competition, and what you see on that program is similar to what these athletes are doing.
“We pull trucks, we lift logs over our heads, very unconventional things as opposed to other sports like football and baseball that we have here on campus where they do resistance training to aid in their sport,” Kearney said.
As aforementioned, this year is different for Team Iron Sports, because it now includes more of a team aspect.
“It’s very inclusive, [and] everyone gets along really well. We hold everyone accountable for their actions and make practices mandatory now,” Kearney said. “Everybody comes to work hard, and we all have a goal set for each other now.”