Lady Lakers lock in second district crown

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The Windermere Prep girls weightlifting team entered its 2022-23 season as defending district champions — and now is a two-time district champion.

“The biggest thing is getting them bought in and trusting the process,” head weightlifting coach Micah Kurtz said. 

Four years ago, Kurtz started the girls weightlifting team at the school with only 18 or 20 girls. Today, the team is twice the size, with 40 members — making it the biggest team at the school — and a force during tournaments and competitions. This is attributed to the trust and the comfort the girls have with each other. 

“Our environment is top-tier,” senior Alexis Beaulieu said. “I love the environment that we have with the team in the weight room. We play music and have dance parties with our coaches, we sing karaoke and other stuff during practices, and I think that makes everyone feel more comfortable with the team. … We are constantly team-bonding with each other, and I believe that makes a great atmosphere.” 

Not only does the environment within the weight room provides stability during meets, but it has reached out to younger athletes, and the program is open for sixth-graders if they wish to join. Currently, the youngest members of the girls weightlifting team are seventh-graders, and with about 10 seniors graduating, the team is hopeful for the future.

“We are looking at the returning girls, and they are just going to continue to replace because they believe in training year-round with us,” Kurtz said. 

Because of the growth in numbers this year, the only challenge the Lady Lakers experienced in regard to practice was the limited space at the weight room — but, nonetheless, the team was able to bring in a positive mindset and a winning mentality to every practice. 

“That probably was our biggest problem (this season),” Kurtz said. “But, it’s a good one to have.” 

Senior Danielle Works, 18, has been a member of the team the four years it’s been in existence and believes that an encouraging environment is more beneficial and result-oriented than a competitive one. 

“The coaches’ encouragement is what kind of bonds the team together and the chemistry we have in terms of weightlifting,” she said. “Our school is very community-oriented as well, so it’s very easy for all of us to get along, and since it’s a smaller school, everyone kind of knows everyone so it’s that bond that we all share.”

The Lady Lakers competed at the Class 1A Region 3 championship meet Friday, Feb. 3, at The Villages, where they placed third in the Traditional Lift category and in the Olympic Lift category with 38 and 36 points, respectively.

State Championship qualifiers are Bella Akabane and Beaulieu for first place, Ava Barbey and Works for second place and Sidney Provencher, Kirah Bilanovich and Sam Gerena for fourth place. 

“I like to help the younger ones to realize that it is important for us to capitalize on the fact that you are constantly competing with yourself and that this is a welcoming environment,” Beaulieu said. “You should be able to make mistakes and learn from them and grow from them.”



Andrea Mujica

Staff writer Andrea Mujica covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. When she’s not on the sidelines, you can find Andrea coaching rowers at the Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere.

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