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Fuerte stands for strong

Girl of steel earns state champion title
Manasa Borra
Coppell junior powerlifter Jakie Fuerte powerlifts 245 pounds in the Coppell High School Field House weight room. Fuerte won the 114-pound state title at the THSWPA state powerlifting meet in Frisco on March 15.

Donning a black trash bag and drenched in sweat, Coppell High School junior Jaqueline Fuerte, affectionately known as Jakie, steps up to be weighed in for her regional powerlifting competition. 

Fuerte’s teammates know that her unusual fashion choice was because, just moments ago, she had just finished a grueling session of running laps in the scorching heat, striving to shed as much water weight as possible to meet her 114-pound mark for the competition. 

Fuerte’s name, meaning strong in Spanish, is a fitting testament to not only her physical prowess but also her mental fortitude. Her extraordinary dedication has propelled Fuerte to secure the 114-pound state champion title at the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association meet in Frisco. 

“I was really proud of her when she won first place because girls powerlifting is not that big of a sport at Coppell,” junior powerlifter Chandana Pagadala said. “The first year we went to regionals people didn’t even know what Coppell was, but now, we’re starting our legacy.”

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In the weight room, Fuerte’s strength is evident in her unwavering commitment and demanding routine. She trains with her peers during class and, on top of that, dedicates an average of 10-12 hours to the gym every week, a feat greatly respected by her fellow powerlifters.  

“When it comes to working out, you do not want to mess with her,” junior powerlifter Madison Gross said. “She’s dedicated to getting in every single rep to make her stronger, day in and day out.”

One of the unique aspects of Fuerte’s journey is her parents’ unwavering dedication to powerlifting. Her parents and older brother have all pursued lifting. 

While others enjoyed lazing around during the COVID pandemic, she followed her family’s example and started hitting the racks. Fuerte’s connection to powerlifting is deeply rooted in a friendly familial rivalry and a strong sense of support from her parents, Juan Garcia and Yeany Garcia, and her brother, CHS junior David Lopez.

“My brother definitely pushes me,” Fuerte said. “Especially because we usually try to compete with each other, even though his numbers are a lot bigger than mine. My mom, dad, brother and I all understand each other better because of powerlifting.”

Family has continued to be a pivotal aspect of Fuerte’s life, even at the gym. Her father serves as her personal trainer and creates specialized workout plans for her. Almost every day, her entire family accompanies her to the gym, each working on their own routines but united in grit. 

“My dad always pushes me and tells me I can do it,” Fuerte said. “My family helps a lot as a support system through the bad days because I know other people are going through the same thing.”

Her family’s support reflects directly on her interactions with the rest of the powerlifting team. During training, she acts as a natural leader and mentor to her teammates, always willing to help them to improve.

“If we had an official team captain, it would definitely be her,” Pagadala said. “She cares about everybody around her. Everyone comes to her asking ‘What should I eat before meets?’ or ‘What should I do to cut weight?’ and she’s always been there for the team.”

Fuerte draws inspiration from a diverse range of female powerlifters. She looks up to Jessica Buettner, a former Olympic gold medalist, for her sports achievements. She also admires powerlifting influencers Killjoy and Joy Sistina, who she sees as strong female influences in the powerlifting community. 

“Sometimes I get compared to guys who lift, or I get the statement ‘That’s pretty good for a girl,” Fuerte said. “But I see other women looking so strong and powerful. It makes me happy to think that could be me if I train hard.”

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This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on May 8, 2024.