Weightlifters from across the nation will gather at East Tennessee State University this weekend for a large championship meet, potentially increasing the school’s credentials among lifters and boosting the local economy at the same time.
ETSU became an official Olympic Training Site for weightlifting a year ago. Since then the school has held several meets, said Meg Stone, director of the site and also director of the Center of Excellence in Sport Science and Coach Education at ETSU.
“We’ve held several weightlifting meets but this is the first national weightlifting championship that we’ve hosted,” Stone said. “It’s the National Collegiate Championship in combination with the World Pan Am team trials.
“It’s a big deal. We’ve got 230 lifters coming in and 160-odd coaches,” Stone said.
Besides those lifters and coaches, families of lifters are traveling to Johnson City, and maybe others, too. Stone said many local hotels were booked up to accommodate the influx of people.
“We’re doing our bit for the local economy, I think,” Stone said. “I think this is a lot bigger meet than people had recognized initially. It’s the largest collegiate championships there’s ever been, so it’s a kind of compliment to us that people want to come to our site.”
This meet will be held in the ETSU Mountain States Health Alliance Athletics Center (mini dome) today, Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday at around 10 a.m., Kindrick Ferris, who lifted at the London Olympics this past summer, will be competing, Stone said.
Nearly 20 students are on the ETSU Weightlifting Club team. Six of those students have scholarships to participate in the Olympic Training Site.
Washington County Economic Development Council Director of Marketing and Community Relations Jeff Keeling said the tournament is an example of how ETSU can help the local economy.
“ETSU’s Sport Science and Coach Education Center is recognized nationally and globally, and with the additional Olympic Training site status achieved last year, the program is poised to contribute to our local economy with events like this weekend’s national championships,” Keeling said.
The CEO of USA Weightlifting and the associate director of Olympic Training Sites will be present for this weekend’s meet.
Stone said she was going to advocate for ETSU hosting increasingly important championship weightlifting meets and trials “with the view that if we do things right and people like what they’ve seen here, that we’d like to host the Olympic trials in 2016.”
The university could also benefit financially from successful weightlifting meets, Stone said.
“If we can put on a good meet, it may increase our enrollment as far as people who want to come here to lift, not on scholarship,” she said.
There are also opportunities for advertising and sponsorships at notable meets.
“Eventually, we’re hoping that increased awareness will help increase funding,” Stone said.