FORT WAYNE – Sometimes the kid startles even Becky Levi, and Becky Levi does not startle easily. Or at all, really.
A weightlifting coach at Spiece Sports Performance, shes been around a block or two. A former national champion lifter herself, she competed in the first Womens World Championships back in 1987. Won a silver medal there, actually.
And the kid?
Her name is Cierra Germann, and shes 14 years old, and every so often, with the impeccable technique that inspired one coach to dub her The Machine, shell snatch or clean-and-jerk some ridiculous amount of weight. And then shell demand to know how much it was.
Um, that was a PR (personal record), Levi says, a bit amazed.
Really? Germann replies.
Yes, really. And this is where the startle factor enters the room.
Germann, you see, stands all of 5-foot-5 and is not outwardly Hulk-like, and mainly thats because shes not – or wasnt until recently – a weightlifter. Shes a basketball player. Played as a freshman for Dave Miller at Concordia last winter. Been playing for six years now.
The lifting shed done, until recently, was all about making her a better basketball player. And then, at the end of the basketball season, she and her father called Levi and asked whether shed train Germann as a lifter.
I wanted to do something new, Germann says.
Six weeks later she walked into the arena in Crown Point, hoisted a combined 100 kilograms (220 pounds) in the snatch and clean-and-jerk, and won the state championship in the 14-15 youth 69-kilogram division. It was the first weightlifting competition in which shed ever participated, and by winning she qualified for the Youth National Weightlifting Championships in St. Joseph, Mo., next weekend.
Talk about your quick studies.
For her to do as well as she did, technique-wise and weight-wise, in really six weeks of training, was really amazing, Levi says. Its really incredible. As young as she is, shes got some great ability some great talent for the future.
And it really helps her basketball, too, because it really makes her more explosive (in) speed, jumping ability, first step quickness.
Which is good, because Germann has no intention of giving up basketball. Lifting, though, has its own appeals.
I really love it, Germann says. Its an individual sport, so its basically youre relying on yourself. I dont have to rely on anyone else to help me succeed. So I really like that about it.
And if she confesses to being a bit jittery when she arrived at state (I was so nervous when I got down there, but after the weigh-in I pretty much relaxed, she says), it passed quickly. Now there is only a poise and surety in her demeanor that compels you to want to check her birth certificate to make sure shes actually only 14 going on 15.
I never would have expected Id be going to nationals, she says. But Im really excited for it. Its a totally new experience.
For Levi, too, it seems.
She has great work ethic, she has great passion, but Im really fortunate and blessed to have an athlete like her who is really coachable, listens, and really wants to do well, she says of her newest prize pupil. For her to come in for a two-hour training session is nothing. She looks forward to it. If something happens where she has a conflict or something and has to miss, shes not happy about it.
You dont find that a lot in kids her age today. Cierra, her ability level, her focus at 14, going to be 15, is amazing.