Century's Carly Reese finds a hidden talent in the weight room
Better late than never.
Century's Carly Reese has been dancing for more than a decade. She tried weightlifting on for size roughly a year and a half ago, and the results have been remarkable.
Since first stepping in the weight room in summer 2020, Reese has more than doubled her weight in the bench press, deadlift and squat, and since her first competition just a month ago, she qualified for and finished 10th at the USA Powerlifting High School Nationals March 23-26 in Chicago, Illinois.
"You hear stories of people discovering hidden talents by accident," said dad and coach Adam Reese, "and in this case, that is what happened."
Carly Reese had always been light on her feet, having studied dance ranging from hip-hop to ballet since she was 5, but she hadn't a clue that "heavy" was where her hidden talent lied until she started hitting the gym with her family during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020.
"I started lifting with my dad and brothers during quarantine, and I got good at it," she said. "I started breaking records at school, so we looked into it and found powerlifting, and that's how it started."
Powerlifting competitions consist of three events: squat, deadlift and bench press. Competitors get three opportunities in each discipline. Judges then take the best attempt in each, total them and rank them accordingly.
At the national event, Reese squatted 303 pounds, bench pressed 170, and deadlifted 303 for a total of 776 pounds. That was good for 10th place in her division — something that impressed even her dad and coach.
"To go from casual lifting to 10th in the country in less than two years is amazing," Adam Reese said.
Carly Reese played other sports growing up and still competes in track and field for the Jaguars, throwing both the shot put and discus. But there's something special about the powerlifting that separates itself from the other sports in which she's competed.
"It's different because I get results right away," she said. "Also, it's individual and not a team sport, so it's all on you and I like that."
Reese trains every morning with her dad at 6:30 a.m. before school. Typically, they stick to the three primary disciplines, and as meets approach, she said they try to replicate the competitive process throughout training. Many scoff at the idea of being coached by one of their parents, but Reese says she enjoys it, and she believes it helps her tremendously.
"It's nice having him coach, because he's able to put things in terms that I understand," Reese said. "I think it's really cool."
Despite an adult life spent coaching football and wrestling, the sport of powerlifting was new to Coach Reese, which meant in the early stages, he too was learning on the job. But since, he's gotten more comfortable with the sport's ins and outs. Now he can focus on motivating his daughter to reach her potential.
"Since competing in weightlifting competitions was new to both of us, we watched a lot of videos and were able to consult with a couple local lifters," Adam Reese said. "Now my focus is to keep her lifting on my program and continue to encourage and motivate her to PR at her next competition."
Carly Reese's brothers both compete collegiately. Brody Reese plays football at the University of Washington and Loudyn Reese both wrestles and plays football at Pacific University in Forest Grove. Adam Reese coached them both prior to and in high school, but — while he claims to be a competent dancer — he never thought he'd be able to coach his daughter, until she found powerlifting.
"There is nothing better than getting to coach your own kids," Adam Reese said. "I always assumed I'd coach my boys, but never thought I'd have the opportunity to coach my girl. She has danced since the age of 5, and even though I think I could win 'So You Think You Can Dance,' I don't think she'd let me help her in that arena."
And what does the future hold for Carly Reese in the sport of powerlifting? That's yet to be determined, but she has a couple things in mind, and spreading the word about a sport she's learning to love is part of it.
"I want to set state records," she said. "But also, we don't have a powerlifting club here at Century, so maybe I'll start one of those."
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