Hear her roar: Stacy Burr wins National USPA Championship

From World Fitness Expo in Atlanta, GA.

From World Fitness Expo in Atlanta, GA.

By Jana E. Pye, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” ~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a dream, or the strength of a determined young woman from Darlington, South Carolina. Stacy Burr is proof of both.

Burr began powerlifting in October of 2014, and a mere nine months later attended her first national competition and won the Juniors 20-23 age, 132 lb National USPA Championship and placed 2nd Overall in Women’s Open on July 10, 2015 at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino USPA National Powerlifting Championships.

Stacy Burr on the Square in Darlington after returning home from winning the National USPA Championship in her division. Photo by Jana E. Pye

Stacy Burr on the Square in Darlington after returning home from winning the National USPA Championship in her division.
Photo by Jana E. Pye

She lifted a total of 832.4 lbs at a 131 lbs body weight in the 60 kg weight class, 20-23 age division. She was a RAW division lifter- no knee wraps or extra support/equipment.

In competition, a powerlifter does three lifts: first a squat, then a bench, and then a deadlift.

At Nationals, her numbers were:
Squat: 281.1 lbs
Bench: 187.5 lbs (American World Record)
Deadlift: 363.8 lbs

“It was pretty amazing,” said Burr. “But honestly, I thought I could have done better.
Although powerlifting is a relatively new sport for women, the Darlington native’s diminutive size of 5’3” has not held her back a bit – the total weight she can lift is quite impressive by any powerlifter standards- female or male.

Burr is classified as an International Elite Level Powerlifter.

Her best-recorded lifetime lifts:
Squat: 310 lbs
Bench: 210 lbs
Deadlift: 370 lbs

Burr’s goal is 1000 lb Drug-free Total

Since beginning the sport of powerlifting, Burr has competed in six competitions; in addition to the Nationals in Las Vegas, she also competed in:

At Nationals in Las Vegas.

At Nationals in Las Vegas.

Columbia, S.C. (first meet, October, 2014); Savannah, GA; Lithia Springs, GA; Furman in Greenville; and the World Fitness Expo in Atlanta, GA, where she lifted her best total weight of 876.3 lbs (total for bench, squat and deadlift), going a 7 for 9.

The meet in Atlanta was two weeks prior to the meet in Vegas, which is not recommended.

“You are supposed to take a week off after a meet, and take it easy the week before a competition, but I didn’t plan that too well,” said Burr. “You live and learn. I’m still happy I went to Atlanta, though, I learned a lot there and enjoyed it.”

Burr is 23 years old a 2014 graduate of Coker College, and graduated from Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology in 2010. She has played softball for years, competing at the college level on the Coker College Cobras team. While studying exercise science at Coker, she earned her Physical Trainer Certification as a sophomore, and was promptly hired by Curtis Boyd as a personal trainer at his World Fitness Gyms.

“I like what I am doing now, and I’m making an impact,” said Burr. “What good is intelligence or knowledge if you don’t share it? I like to help out as much as I can, be it a young person or an adult taking their first training lesson. My goal is that someone says they are a better person or a better athlete because of something I taught them. You watch people with their head down with no confidence, and watch them evolve into someone with confidence. I love that.”

She coaches individual and group training sessions at the Darlington and Hartsville gyms, and occasionally at the Florence locations, in addition to her new full time job with Frito Lay.

The irony of working for a snack company is not lost on her.

“I tell people they can eat things – like chips, or a piece of cake – in moderation,” said Burr with a grin. “It’s important to not deprive yourself, but it’s very important to eat healthy and put good food into your body as well as exercise.”

She attributes much of her success to the encouragement of her father, Billy Burr, and sister, Shannon Burr. “They have been great,” said Burr. “My Dad always supported me when I played softball- he doesn’t know as much about powerlifting, but he was so happy when I came home.”

Billy Burr said that when she left to fly to Vegas, she told him not to expect a win. “Then she comes home with medals, winning Nationals,” he said proudly. “She can do anything she puts her mind to.”

At nationals she set a world record a bench record for USPA (United States Powerlifting Association) 20 – 23 age, 132 lbweight class, American world record of a bench press of 187.5 lbs. At her last meet, her best bench was a 203 lb, which tied a USAPL world record.

Burr was the only athlete competing from the Carolinas at Nationals. “I went to Vegas and was overwhelmed- everyone else was there with sponsors, and a whole team,” said Burr. “But I qualified and figured, why not. I could actually do this. You miss opportunities all the times and you talk yourself out of it. When you get an opportunity just take it. Not just in powerlifting or sports, but in life. If you have an opportunity to chase your dreams, do it you may not do as well as you want to, but say you did it? That, to me, is pretty cool. I get chill bumps just talking about it. I don’t think I’m better than anybody. When you believe in your own hype, I don’t want to be on top. I’m from Darlington, S.C, my Dad is a truck mechanic. I’ve never had anything handed to me. Nothing has come easy to me. You gotta work for things that mean to you. Some people are gifted genetically, but it keeps me motivated. I am working towards something it’s about persistence and dedication, to keep going.”

“Powerlifting, and really any sport, is more mental than physical,” said Burr. “If you go to a meet and you are scared, or if you step to the plate at softball and are scared the pitcher is going to strike you out, you’ll fail. If you have doubt in your mind, it’s gonna eat you for lunch. When I set up for a dead lift, I make noise. In my weight class, which are the small girls, they usually are quiet,” she continued. “But, I am an aggressive lifter. I get up to the bar and scream or bark, I get really into it. You gotta channel an inner, primal sense …make something happen. I get there and know I’m gonna pick this up. I do self-talk. You have to have the right mindset. I say to myself, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” and say it over and over,.. And know ‘I can pick this up’. You have to believe in yourself.”
Burr is the granddaughter of Mary Sue Burr and the late Fred Burr, who passed away in December. She is also the daughter of Lisa Burr.

She thought about getting her master’s degree, but put her degree on hold to come home to care for her grandfather who passed away in December.

“He would have been proud of me on this win,” said Burr. “I’m sure in some way, he knew.”

What is powerlifting?

According to Burr, there is a lot of strategy involved, and the form and listening to commands from the three judges are key.
The powerlifter stands on a platform, and has three attempts to get their best weight at three lifts: the squat, the bench, and the deadlift. The athlete’s total is the amount of pounds combining the highest completed weight for each of the three lifts.

“There are many rules,” said Burr. “You must keep perfect form, and pause at each move; they tell you commands, when to squat, press. It’s not like ‘show up and look like a barbarian’ – it must be technically sound, and cookie cutter perfect commands. It’s really nerve-wracking.”

“You open up with something you know you can do,” said Burr. “The second should be something that you have done – and pretty challenging. The third attempt might be a 5 lb PR, or something that might be possible, but might not be. Some people do it a little differently. You get the three chances, and whichever one you record as the highest, that is your number for that lift.”

All the participants compete that one, and move on to the next lift. The groups are divvied up into weight classes, and age groups.

Her favorite female powerlifter is Jennifer Thompson, who has won several world records. “She just is so inspirational. Its not her day job, she is actually a math teacher, and goes to the meets with her husband and kids.”

Stacy came in third to Thompson at the World Fitness Expo in Atlanta, and got to meet her personally. “I was so proud to stand on the podium with her,” said Burr. “I got a chance to talk to her, and she told me that powerlifting is one of the few sports that you can actually improve with age – some of the top powerlifters are in their 30’s and 40’s, because you improve your form and strength more so than in other sports.”

Burr’s sponsor is Wicked Iron Clothing. Find them online at: www.wickedironclothing.com

Contact Stacy for information personal training at World Fitness Gyms of Darlington and Hartsville, or directly at: stacy.burr@coker.edu.

You may follow her on Instagram at: BamaBurr and Facebook.

Author: Duane Childers

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