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- by  Abby Weingarten
The NCF powerlifting team

Hitting personal records across the board on the bench and deadlift, members of the New College Powerlifting Team prepped for the 18th Annual USA Powerlifting Florida Collegiate State Championships at a mock meet last Friday night.

Five of the student athletes will compete this Sunday in Orlando: third-year students Kathy Abbott and Marina Sidlow; and thesis students Taylor Young, Daniel Schell and Jacob Brody-Ogborn. This will be the team’s first competition in two years, following a pandemic-induced hiatus.

“I love working hard to get stronger and keep hitting new PRs [personal records], but I especially love the supportive community we’ve created in the gym,” said Abbott, who benched 115 pounds and deadlifted 250 pounds on Friday. “We all cheer each other on when trying to hit our big lifts. I would recommend this team to any student who wants to improve their strength in a supportive environment.”

Friday’s on-campus event was the first mock meet (non-sanctioned) at New College since May 2019. A pep rally of sorts, it was held at the tennis courts from 6 to 8 p.m., with thesis student Josh Ingram announcing, thesis student Victoria Goldner keeping score, and coach Jordan Borges and faculty sponsor Kathleen Casto, Ph.D. (assistant professor of psychology) judging. There were 18 lifters (including 17 students and New College President Patricia Okker), 54 spectators and a lot of Indian food.

“Everyone hit PRs, and we were so happy to have President Okker come out and lift with the team,” said Brody-Ogborn, the team’s president and co-captain, who deadlifted 490 pounds and benched 270 at the mock meet. “When President Okker is not running marathons, she does Olympic weightlifting. Even though, strictly speaking, powerlifting is not her sport, she lifted 200 pounds on her last attempt at the deadlift (side note: 200 pounds is a LOT of weight). We could not be happier that she came out to support the team.”

Student Antuan Sconiers deadlifts 300 pounds

It was a happy—and long-awaited—gathering for the teammates.

The three-year-old team was founded in November 2018 and, in April 2019, three New College athletes attended their first competition (the 37th Annual USA Powerlifting Florida State Championships). That November, three athletes competed in the 16th Annual USA Powerlifting Florida Collegiate State Championships (Young earned third place in her highly competitive division and Schell took fourth).

In February 2020, five athletes competed in the 3rd Annual USA Powerlifting Southwest Florida Open Championships (New College earned first place for overall team performance). About a month later, the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to the competitions. Now the team is thrilled to restart.

“We are very excited to keep expanding the team, get better equipment and continue to try to improve the team in whatever ways we can,” Brody-Ogborn said, adding that the team’s next mock meet will be held at the end of the spring semester. “If people want to join, they can come to our practice at the beginning of each semester (no cutoff line, no experience level required). After the first two weeks, the only way to stay on the team is through dedication.”

For more information on the competition on Sun. Nov. 21 in Orlando, visit

To support the New College Powerlifting Team, visit and

To watch a video of President Okker lifting, visit

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.