Dr. Phillips High senior Tyliyah “Ty” Smith has been on the weightlifting team since her sophomore year and continues to push past her personal bests. On Dec. 4, she clean and jerked 185 pounds, and she hit her career-high bench press before Thanksgiving with 235 pounds.
What got you started in weightlifting?
I started weightlifting in 10th grade. I always thought I was strong. When we would go grocery shopping I used to grab as many bags as I could on my arms and carry it in the house with my sisters. Then 10th grade year, which was my friend’s 11th grade year, she decided to come to the interest meeting and then we decided to go from there.
Why have you stuck with it?
I like the team — we’re very competitive but we also cheer each other on — and I just like the weights. I feel powerful.
Do you have a favorite lift?
When I first started off, I liked the bench because it was easier and for clean and jerk I didn’t have the correct technique, but now I like clean and jerk a little bit more than bench because I’ve got the proper technique and it’s easier when you squat. I had to learn that because I didn’t squat, I just muscled it up.
What was the process like for you of learning proper technique?
It was hard — difficult because last year when I went to states I muscled it up, but after states, Soko — my coach — he broke down the steps. I started off light, learning how to squat and I did front squats. Then we worked our way up from there. It’s a long process, but it’s worth it.
Describe your mental process in approaching a lift.
It’s better now. When I first started, it was kind of difficult because when I missed — or scratched a lift, as they say it — I used to beat myself up about it, but now I just focus on, “OK, you did the weight, you might have missed this one but just keep on going,” because if you’re not right in the head, you’re not going to do the weight because it’s all about mentality.
What is the most rewarding aspect of weightlifting for you?
The most rewarding is seeing my teammates as well as the other team we’re competing against, because you see their process, as well. Most of the time — and we go against the same teams every year so you actually see the other teams gain, as well — but you also see your teammates. Compared to when we first started — most of us all started the same year — and we gained a lot of weight.
Who is your funniest teammate and why?
They’re all funny. Besides me — I like to goof around a lot — I’ll say Gabby Serpa. She’s the funniest, because she likes to goof around. She’s just crazy, but it’s a good crazy. She really likes to goof around, that’s why me and her are so close.