Weightlifting program ending at Northern Michigan University

Former U.S. Olympic Education Center weightlifter Sarah Robles competes in the sport at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021. (AP file photo)

MARQUETTE — Northern

Michigan University will end its campus-based men’s and women’s weightlifting program effective May 6, the final day of NMU’s winter semester, the university said in a news release earlier this month.

The announcement was actually a joint announcement between NMU and USA Weightlifting and the result of a mutual agreement to wind down their relationship.

This semester, there are 11 men and eight women competing in the program, which started as part of the U.S. Olympic Education Center in 2003. The team has been coached by Tyler Depuydt since 2019.

The program inaugurated as venture that included the university, USA Weightlifting and the U.S. Olympic Committee, according to a Mining Journal archived story from October 2003.

Northern and USA Weightlifting said that the well-being of student-athletes is their top priority, according to the recent news release.

Sarah Robles of the United States competes in women's snatch +87 kg weightlifting at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, July 30, 2019. (AP file photo)

To that end, the university will honor all team members’ current scholarships in their academic programs, NMU athletic director Rick Comley stated in the release.

“We’re proud of the work these student-athletes have done to compete at an elite level, both nationally and internationally, as well as to train in the classroom for their careers after weightlifting,” Comley said in the NMU release. “Northern will continue to support any of the team members regarding their goals to attain their NMU degrees.”

And USA Weightlifting will continue to support current and future competitive weightlifters at the collegiate level, including at 45 colleges and universities that offer intramural, club and varsity teams.

USA Weightlifting said it appreciates the long history NMU has had with the program, a sentiment NMU also said it shares.

But the dynamics of the sport have changed substantially, including the way that the national governing body has changed its funding and training operations over the years since the original agreement with NMU.

Five weightlifters from the U.S. National Training Site at Northern Michigan University earned All-American status at the University National Championships held March 3-6, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. From left are Lukas Zielke, Ryland Shriver, Ella Holden, Lander Wells and Calvin La. (Photo courtesy NMU)

With that agreement coming up for renewal, it made sense to make the change now, according to USA Weightlifting CEO Matt Sicchio.

“We are grateful for the role Northern Michigan University has played in helping develop weightlifting at the university level for the past 20 years,” Sicchio said in the release. “While our partnership with NMU is winding down at the end of this semester, we look forward to continuing to grow and support collegiate weightlifting through other avenues.”

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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