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Lavery Greenfield: Lifting up young female powerlifters

Senior Lavery Greenfield has been powerlifting for two years. She recently competed at the high school powerlifting nationals. “I like meeting new and young people that want to do powerlifting because its new and being someone that kind of gets to blaze the trail is exciting,” Greenfield said. “Its never really been a youth sport or a sport for women before so it’s cool to be one of the firsts.”
Courtesy of: Lavery Greenfield
Senior Lavery Greenfield has been powerlifting for two years. She recently competed at the high school powerlifting nationals. “I like meeting new and young people that want to do powerlifting because it’s new and being someone that kind of gets to blaze the trail is exciting,” Greenfield said. “It’s never really been a youth sport or a sport for women before so it’s cool to be one of the firsts.”

When it comes to sports, powerlifting isn’t the first one most people think of. For a teenage girl, it’s even less likely. But for five foot seven inches Lavery Greenfield, powerlifting is something she’s grown a passion for.

Powerlifting is an athletic competition in which a variety of different aged athletes compete by lifting weights. There are four categories a lifter competes under: equipment, age, weight class and dots. Each lift has three judges who determine whether the lift is considered “good” or “bad” by using a white and red light system. At meets, each competitor lifts nine times, squats three times, benches three times and deadlifts four times. Dots account for how many “good” lights you get from the judges for each lift. A lifters’ goal is to get as many “goods” as they can because it will give them a better dot score. Senior Lavery Greenfield placed second for weight class, first for age class, second for dots and first for equipment at the 2024 High School Nationals.

Starting only two years ago, Greenfield is far from a long-time expert, but she has quickly found her footing, breaking past Massachusetts records for her bench, squat, deadlift and total weight category.

Credit: Courtesy of Lavery Greenfield

“My team is Ambitious Strength and Amber Verrill is our coach,” Greenfield said. “She’s been powerlifting for 12 years and she is also the strength and training coach at Simmons University for all the sports teams. We train in cohorts for competitions. We have the majority of our practices as remote, but on most Saturdays and occasional check-ins we are together. I also regularly lift with a couple people at the gym because they are there at the same time as me.”

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Greenfield competes in an equipment field called “raw” lifting. She only utilizes wrist straps, knee sleeves and a belt, while other lifters have additional equipment, making the movement and difficulty different. In the 2024 High School Nationals Competition, Greenfield was part of the sub 148 pound weight class. Historically, she has done weight cuts to bring her weight down to 126 pounds, but for this competition she chose to stay at her resting body weight of 143.2 pounds.

“One of the best parts of powerlifting is that it gives me a release for my emotions,” Greenfield said. “I like meeting new and young people that want to do powerlifting because it’s new and being someone that kind of gets to blaze the trail is exciting. It’s never really been a youth sport or a sport for women before so it’s cool to be one of the firsts.”

Greenfield will be continuing powerlifting through college and will be lifting under her school’s name, University of Vermont (UVM). She will still continue to train and be part of Amber Verill’s team, but she will compete in a collegiate lifting circuit under UVM’s title.

“My summer job is leading a hiking camp and also I hike on weekends to stay in shape,” Greenfield said. “I also follow a nutrition plan. I weigh all the food I eat so it follows the criteria my trainer sets for me. At the gym I train lifting four days a week. I have a squat, bench, deadlift and secondary bench day, then I also do the Stairmaster two more days a week.”

Although powerlifting can seem very intimidating for newcomers, Greenfield emphasized how much fun it is and the positives it has brought to her life. She even mentioned that even though she is on a strict nutrition plan, she is able to snack and have a dessert of frozen yogurt, protein powder and rainbow sprinkles every night of the week.

“Powerlifting is not really anything special, you just follow a practice plan like everything else,” Greenfield said. “I think a lot of people think that powerlifters are doing some crazy thing when we’re really not. We go to practice every day and that’s it. Anyone can do powerlifting, I wish more women joined and knew that it was a safe space for young women.”

While Greenfield and many others are working to pave the way for other women–both young and old–to join powerlifting, there are still a few pressing issues that athletes have to face.

“I would say 97% of the guys that workout in gyms, from my experience, are not great people,” Greenfield said. “Awful people that tend to forget I’m a minor. People sometimes say some things that just aren’t great. The environment is overall not awesome right now and part of being a ‘trailblazer’ is being in situations that aren’t great that you want to make better. Sometimes that’s hard.”

Credit: Courtesy of Lavery Greenfield

Being one of the firsts to do anything can be tricky, even so, Greenfield has stayed true to who she is and continues to work on growing as a powerlifter. At her last meet Greenfield had pneumonia and was unable to go for her maxes, using her meet and past data, her coach is able to predict expected personal record’s (PR) for the end of the month. Her expected PR for her squat is 225 pounds, 120 pounds for bench and 300 pounds for her deadlift, all by the end of the month.

“Powerlifting seems scary, but it’s actually really fun and you’ll meet all different types of people,” Greenfield said. “You have the chance to enhance your body and mind and make lifelong friendships at the same time. I became a powerlifter two years ago and have never looked back. I think more people should give it a chance”

This story was originally published on Wayland Student Press on May 16, 2024.