On a Plane to Munich with some Thoughts on American Weightlifting

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On a Plane to Munich with some Thoughts on American Weightlifting

I’m on a plane bound for Munich with three of my boys that are competing in the Junior Worlds: Dylan Cooper, Nathan Damron, and Tom Summa. Our final stop is of course Tbilisi, Georgia. We were supposed to leave a day earlier, but our flight from Greensboro go canceled. The boys were understandably furious, but for me it was another day and night with my wife and child.

I definitely made the best of it. I played all day with little Rock, and I loved on my beautiful pregnant wife Emily Drew every chance that I got. I thought one day is nothing. I thought no way that the flight would get canceled again. Guess what? It was.

Phil Andrews emailed me from Tbilisi, and informed me that our flight from Greensboro to Washington D.C. was cancelled due to weather. Phil was scrambling to sort things out, but it was incredibly difficult while in Georgia. I took over on my end by calling United. After 45-minutes of waiting and talking, we had a new flight out of Charlotte.

Problem solved? Not really! From the time I hung up, we had about 2 and ½ hours to pack up, drive 90 minutes to Charlotte, and get on an International Flight. Well I already told you that I am writing this from the plane, so you obviously know that we made it. There is nothing like a little adventure before setting out for a bigger adventure.

I have to say that I am a proud coach. I have four boys competing at the Junior Worlds including Mason Groehler who was able to get out on an earlier flight the day before us. All of my boys work harder than any set of athletes that I have ever coached. They train 9-12 per week for at least two hours per session. They perform RomWod on the daily. They see our team physical therapist, John Davidson 1-2 times per week.


These boys eat and sleep weightlifting. Lately our team has gotten a lot of negative comments about the fact that they are stipend by me. There are also rumors of drug use. On one end that infuriates me because I know that these boys are the cleanest athletes on earth. Not only are they determined to compete clean, but also they are constantly getting tested randomly and at meets. Nathan Damron averages getting tested about once per month.

My boys are getting stronger because they are training hard, and because they are together. That’s why my guys are killing it. They are in a room full of incredible athletes, so they of course get better. You add solid programming and a room filled with two International Coaches, and you get an atmosphere conducive to improving.

This brings me to the next point. With all the positive drug tests, maybe it’s time to stop looking outside of the U.S. for answers to getting our athletes better. I think that it’s pretty clear that all the countries that we rave about here in the U.S. are dirty. Look when you give a good athlete steroids, the drugs are going to make that athlete into an Olympic champion not the coaching. You give Nathan Damron or Harrison Maurus the same drugs that you are giving the foreign athletes, and you will have two future Olympic champions. Period! It’s no longer up for discussion.

We go on and on about the Russians. The last I checked America dominates the Olympics overall, so our sport scientists must know something. It is time that weightlifting in America looked to our own sport scientists and coaches for answers.

I am curious what the positive drug tests will do the numbers during this Junior World Championships and the Olympics. Maybe these athletes will be afraid to dope at least not as much. It’s time for our American athletes to look at these foreign lifters as simply the competition, and less like they are superhuman figures. They are not.


There are still some steps that we can take in America to improve our weightlifting program, but we are going to have to do it on a unified front. We have to help each other. We have to ask ourselves what is best for the athletes not us as coaches. The days of trying to hang on to your one good athlete like he or she is a golden egg need to end. It’s not about the coaches! It’s about the athletes!

Here are some things that need to happen for to make weightlifting great in America:

1. Regional Programs that consist of the best weightlifting coaches that America has to offer. I believe that we need to correspond with some exercise scientists to advance what we already have. The Regional Programs should have sports medicine and recovery centers. There should also be college programs at each to give our athletes a future and to entice younger athletes into the sport.

2. Collaboration amongst coaches. We shouldn’t keep our training programs secret. If I am doing something that works, I will gladly share it with anyone that wants to know. We should have quarterly meeting with all of the top coaches, and have organized discussions to create the ultimate program in each center.

3. Recruiting Division- we need someone going out there and recruiting the next generation. We need ways to identify potential athletes, and we need the means to give them a future: schooling, bigger stipend, etc.

4. We need an innovative funding department. Phil Andrews has already done a great job as CEO in raising funds. However, there are so many creative ways that we could be raising money for our sport with the use of the Internet. Corporations are still important, but we can reach the world with the use of the web.

5. We need more people working on research for our sport. We need research in programming, nutrition, recovery, and legal supplementation. We need a team.

I think that the latest positive drug tests are a real chance for America to get a more level playing field. The dirty athletes will at least think twice before taking drugs. Now is the time for America to strike. It’s time to up our game.

For right now, I can say that I am happy with the progress of my team. They’ve all made tremendous gains in the last year. Nathan has every intention of shooting for podium. Whether it happens or not isn’t the point. The point is that these athletes believe that they can medal. It’s time that our country supports this next generation. Let’s help them make their Olympic dream a reality, and this time let’s don’t “just make the team”. Let’s take some medals in 2020.

Team Mash Elite is off and running. Our goal to improve the sport of Olympic weightlifting is having progress already. However we still need your help in making our dream a reality. We are also very excited to watch our ‘youth at risk’ program scatter throughout America and the world. Here is a full report of the progress: “Team Mash Elite Update”

Here are the ways that you can help with this dream:

1. Become an affiliate– Our first affiliate ever was Undisputed Strength and Conditioning in Minneapolis, MN. Vinh, Jason, and the team up there is an extension of our team in North Carolina. They coach with us at National meets, and their athletes are a part of our National Teams. We are one big family. For more details about becoming an affiliate email affiliates@mashelite.com

2. Become a Partner– for more information about that email me personally Travis.Mash@mashelite.com

3. Donate to the Team– thousands of you guys and gals read these article every day. If all of you donated $1-2 we would be in a much better situation. Click on the link below to donate:

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4. Come to the 3-day Mash Camp July 8th thru the 10th click the link below to find out more:

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5. Volunteer with fundraising, administration, or simply prayers. If you want to help, email us at:


We have big goals. We get it. We will definitely need all the help that we can get. This thing is bigger than three coaches. We need a team. A massive team! We are going to either do this once and for all, or stop talking about why America is terrible on the international scene. This is a chance for all of us to have a part in this.

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