Raising the bar

Chloe Varady

By Julia Sumpter, Hagerty High School

From not making the starting team in tenth grade to earning the school’s first weightlifting scholarship, senior Chloe Varady has come a long way. In her third year, she became a captain, won fifth at states and was recognized as the first girl on campus to win a weightlifting scholarship. 

“I originally started to get stronger for a different sport but then I ended up quitting that sport because I liked weightlifting more,” Varady said. “The idea of a scholarship didn’t come up until this past year.”

Varady never thought a scholarship would come her way until weightlifting head coach David Attaway got in contact with the coach at Lindenwood University and Varady messaged the college team on Instagram, following up with a Zoom meeting. Varady then went on a college tour and lifted with the Lindenwood team after spring break. She was accepted to Lindenwood and received both an athletic and academic scholarship. 

“When I visited the school I immediately felt at home there,” Varady said. “The coach and all of the girls were super nice and welcoming.”

Varady explained Attaway has been her biggest inspiration in both life and lifting. Attaway made programs for Varady to follow and she lifted for him throughout the whole year, on the weightlifting team and at Attaway’s gym.

“I have only guided her,” Attaway said. “But all I’ve had to do is point her in the right direction. She’s done everything else.”

From the start, Varady has put in the work to get to where she is. After not making the start list her first year, Varady qualified for states during her second season, but did not hit her lifts to place. This year, she placed fifth at states and qualified for both snatch and traditional (bench, clean and jerk). 

“I’ve gotten a lot better, especially [my] form,” Varady said. “I still have a long way to go.”

Over the past three years, the hardest thing for Varady to overcome was bullying. A teammate would laugh when Varaday missed lifts, talked rudely about her to the rest of the team, and said that she should not be a team captain. Because of this, Varady lost confidence and struggled to stay positive, especially when other teammates became a target too. 

“It motivated me to work harder, to prove not just to her but to everyone else that I could be successful despite everything that she was saying about me,” Varady said. 

Varady did make captain, and despite the negative dynamic, she made it far in postseason. And she has tried to make sure nobody else on the team feels the way she did.

“It was kind of like the dream person to have on your team, and we’re gonna miss her,” Attaway said. “I’m super excited about where she’s going.”

Varady’s achievements have now “opened up the floodgates” for girls following behind her, according to Attaway. She has shown athletes that weightlifting is not just a sport to do in the off-season, but it can be a way to get a scholarship. 

“I am very excited to continue my weightlifting career because I know that I am going to improve so much in the next four years,” Varady said. 

Varady currently snatches 135 and clean and jerks 170 which will be the two movements she will use in college. photo from Chloe Varady

This story was originally published on Hagerty Journalism Today on April 17, 2022.