Addy’s world was silent as she reached down and prepared to lift the bar.
“I knew there were people cheering me on,” she remembers. “But I didn’t know, because when you get up on the platform, you can’t really hear it. You just kind of blank out. Everything goes away.”
Her coach, Whitney, didn’t want her to know how much was on the bar, but the crowd knew. They erupted in encouragement. If she completed the lift, the 13-year-old Jasper Middle Schooler would break the national record for her weight class.
Addy only saw the judge in front of her as she focused her will on the cold bar in her hands.
You can feel her effort. Those long early-adolescent arms taut, Addy slowly pulls on the weight. Seemingly, the physics of the universe are suspended for a moment as she focuses her 100.1-pound mass of determination on lifting 211 pounds. Then, with the strands of reality broken, she smoothly completes the move, shoulders back, hips forward.
Cheers explode and tears fall.
That moment will remain with her father, Josh Creutz, forever. “I have never seen that much focus in her eyes,” he said.
This moment is even more impactful when you realize that Addy only began powerlifting a little over four months ago.
The seventh-grader became interested in the sport after watching her dad’s friend, Whitney Hirsch, compete in a powerlifting meet last summer.
Whitney and her husband, Greg, both powerlifters, opened their gym, Raise the Bar Performance, in Huntingburg in August. Josh and Greg have known each other since high school and Greg has been training Josh and helping him compete in powerlifting for about a year now. The three are close friends.
Single-dad Josh brings Addy and his 10-year-old son, Daniel, to the gym about five days a week. They are there so often that it has become like a second home and the members like extended family.
When Josh saw Addy’s interest in taking on the sport, he was optimistically concerned about whether she would be committed enough.
“There are 30 things in a week she wants to do for the rest of her life,” he joked.
Plus, between equipment, coaching and gym memberships, dedicating yourself to powerlifting can be costly.
In August, when Greg and Whitney officially opened the new gym, Addy started coming in and working out. From the beginning she loved it.
While she was there, she grew to appreciate the community Greg and Whitney were fostering. Powerlifters are competitive but with the personal nature of the sport, they love seeing others reach their personal bests.
“I love coming here,” she said. “The people around you are really nice people.”
But she wasn’t thinking about competing at the time. She was playing soccer for the middle school and didn’t have the time to dedicate to the training.
Then, about a week before the gym was planning on holding Deadlifts for Doggos, a special powerlifting fundraiser for the Dubois County Humane Society, Addy told Whitney she wanted to compete.
“At that time, she hadn’t really touched a barbell much,” Whitney said. “We really only did two workouts before the meet.”
But out of the gate, Addy deadlifted 155 pounds.
“So, after that, we started talking about records for her weight class and where they were at,” Whitney explained.
She went to Addy and told her that if she was interested in powerlifting, she felt she had a shot at the record in the deadlift. Soccer was over and Addy had time to dedicate so Whitney began working with her with plans to compete at the March USPA (United States Powerlifting Association) event in Indianapolis.
Addy excelled at the training — though she loathes planks and good mornings — and got stronger. Those gains powered her continued dedication. Moments when she wasn’t doing teenage things — sleeping, making Tiktoks with her friends, eating — she was thinking about her gains and appreciating her developing strength.
“Yeah, lifting more than some of the boys at the gym is kinda fun,” she laughed.
Whitney felt good about Addy’s chances to break the record but about two weeks before the meet, they hit a stumbling block as she attempted to deadlift 195 pounds. “She failed it three different times,” Whitney said.
That weight was important because Whitney felt if Addy could do 195 pounds, she definitely had a shot at breaking the record.
She knew Addy could do it, but she couldn’t give Addy that confidence. So, to overcome Addy’s mental roadblock, Whitney took out all the numbers. She loaded the barbells without telling Addy how much weight she was lifting. This forced Addy to trust Whitney’s faith in her ability rather than fall into the trap of doubt her own mind would set for her.
After mixing it up a bit over a few sessions, Whitney put 195 pounds back on the barbells. “I knew she could do it,” Whitney said.
And she did with room to spare for more weight. Afterward, Addy cried as Whitney let her know how much she had lifted.
Powerlifting competitions involve groups of powerlifters taking turns at three lifts — squat, bench press and deadlift. Each powerlifter completes each move three times. Failure to complete any single move means the powerlifter bombs and won’t place in the competition at all. However, a powerlifter can make a fourth lift to set a record, though the lift won’t contribute to the overall score for that powerlifter’s performance.
Whitney thought that Addy could complete her three deadlifts and then use the fourth to break the record. But, Greg advised her to have Addy use her third lift to break the record. “I knew she had the 195 and a bit more,” Whitney said. “But I didn’t know if she had the 211 (the amount to break the record).”
Greg assured her that Addy had already done it mentally. She was ready.
Whitney told Addy not to listen when they announced the weight. “I covered her ears and told her to just go lift the weight,” she said.
And Addy was mentally ready for what Whitney and Greg and Josh already knew she could do.
“Addy is the most ADHD, non-paying attention, klutzy person I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Josh laughed. “But that day (the competition), she was a monster. I mean, just the focus that she had that day and the determination in her eyes, it was uncharacteristic.”
Josh is ordering a special display to put Addy’s first gold medal in and Addy has her eye on the world record now.
Currently, the record is 256 pounds.
“I can get it,” she affirmed.
“I’ve got it,” she confirmed.