Each year, The Show of Strength is a special event for us. It’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since this powerlifting meet was born but, at the same time, it’s produced a ton of great memories.
This event is very important to our facility and beliefs. From our history to now as we are building a …destination “For the Core of the Iron Sport,” it’s obvious strength sports make up a large part of that core. We’re dedicated to supporting strength sports, and one of the best ways we support local athletes and the local scene is to put on a quality event. We’ve always had the luxury of being surrounded by high-level athletes, so we’re constantly consulting with them on how we can make the event better or more fun from a competitor’s standpoint, followed by the viewer’s standpoint.
The Show of Strength came to life in 2009 and, in many ways, that very first event was still one of our best. It was super organic and had an authentic neighborhood feeling to it: A member’s son’s band played a hard rock set between the bench and squat portion of the powerlifting meet; we grilled food for everyone; the competition included a lot of first-time lifters and even bodybuilders who just wanted to see what they could do. At that point, the gym was only 6 months old – looking back on the event, it was a key community-building moment in our local history.
I can recall a few of my favorite memories over the years…
Like I previously mentioned, Year 1 holds a special place for me. I can recall Bryan Barrett showing up with member Ross Shreves, and I don’t believe Bryan (now a very high-level athlete) was competing much yet – if at all – and he pulled some crazy weight while wearing blue jeans and hiking boots! The following day, David Hamilton and some of his friends really put on a show at the strongman event. We had a great crowd, and the entire day was a blast. I also remember that at the end of the weekend, after it was rearranged for all the events, the gym’s condition was a total disaster; However, I was so tired from the event that I just walked home that night and decided to deal with it on Monday, haha! Year 1 was prior to the days of having extra hands to help – in fact, some of my high school friends came to help emcee and keep score.
From there, we had a run of events in conjunction with the NPC Lone Star Classic, and those events were a blast. It had always been a long-time vision to bring athletes together instead of having the sports clash so, to us, it was a victory to have a bodybuilding show and powerlifting meet work hand in hand. Now, it’s actually quite common and a great thing to see.
The next year that really stands out to me is 2013. We were way behind schedule on the completed construction of …destination, but we’d already promoted and committed to the June event. As June drew closer, it was obvious the building wasn’t going to be ready. At the time, it was very stressful because we actually didn’t have power in the building. As a solution, we ended up renting a big generator and a slew of porta potties to try and accommodate the crowd. Although it felt stressful and disappointing, in hindsight, that was another very organic feeling event that stands out as a highlight to me because the sponsors still came, the lifters maxed out, and we had probably more than 200 audience members, which all happened in the shell of a building. I remember Randy Nesuda brought a pop-up camping chair and set up a construction bench in what’s now our performance room to conduct weigh-ins and registration. People kept calling our old facility to ask if they were allowed to walk into the construction zone, and we just laughed when telling them “Yes, that’s where the event is happening.” Thinking about it now, it’s so cool to know that this event was very much built on the scene and sports of powerlifting and strongman, and that the show always goes on. Of course, it’s nice that the gym now has flushing toilets, and I wouldn’t want to go back to the shell building by any means, but it’s still incredible that the event happened and flourished despite all the setbacks.
Another good memory is the first year Greg “Thumper” Hutchison pulled his big rig up to the event for the Truck Pull, which I believe was 2014. That was a great moment for the meet, and the Truck Pull has become an iconic event at the Show of Strength. Not too many local contests have space or access to a semi, so it’s always fun to offer that event – and how could you not love Thumper’s enthusiasm and attitude of giving?
The last thing I like to think about is the number of individual efforts over the years that were combined to make The Show of Strength a memorable tradition. From the support of key members, the number of volunteers we’ve had work as spotters and loaders, variety of emcees, equipment companies, vendors, photographers, lifters and, of course, our staff – the thank-you list goes on and on. It’s also fun to think about how many people are woven into this event – it’s been a huge part of many peoples’ summers!
Pictures from previous shows