The weightlifting team from Brookswood Secondary has taken the term "girl power" to heart.
Of the 13 team members with the first-year club, 11 are girls.
And they're learning from one of Canada's best.
Three days each week, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Christine Girard makes the half-hour drive from her home in White Rock to teach the BSS student-athletes the two disciplines of Olympic lifting - snatch and clean and jerk.
The 28-year-old Girard said the time - and clicks on her vehicle's odometer - are well worth the sacrifice.
"The payoff is to see the kids improving every single week," Girard said. "This is volunteer time for us [coaches, including Joel Hugh, Geoff Yee, and Lisa Hansen] but we really enjoying sharing our passion with the kids. All [of the students] didn't know what a snatch or a clean and jerk was when they started here a few months ago, and now you can see in their eyes how they feel about themselves when they do a really big lift."
She added that it's important to give back to the community.
"If I can give back to those kids, sharing what I love to do, then it's even better," Girard said.
Girard, who made her weightlifting debut at age 10, had a decorated resume heading into the 2012 Games in London.
She joined the Canadian weightlifting team at 16 and participated in her first international competition in Greece.
Girard is a triple medalist at the Commonwealth Games (gold in 2010, silver in 2006, and bronze in clean and jerk in 2002), and participated three times at the Pan-American Games (2003, 2007, and 2011) where she finished seventh, second, and then took away a gold medal in 2011.
She currently holds all Canadian records in the 63 kg weight category, and is the Commonwealth and Pan-American Games record-holder for snatch and total in that same division.
As she prepared for London, Girard received support from the Own the Podium program on the basis of her fourth place result at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and her world ranking.
Her bronze medal result in London came four years after finishing fourth in Beijing and missing out on a medal by a narrow three kilogram margin.
The bronze result in London cemented Girard as the first Canadian woman to win a medal in weightlifting and the third Canadian overall to win a medal in the sport.
These days, Girard is focusing her efforts on training and helping introduce the sport to the next generation of lifters. While she isn't necessarily training future Olympians, Girard believes the Brookswood club will help raise the sport's profile, locally.
"I think people will understand better," she said. "We have really small girls here, they're, like, 50 kilos, they're super small, and they enjoy weightlifting, and they're good. So I think people will start to think that it's not true that you have to be huge and look like a man to be good in Olympic weightlfifting because that's really not the case."
As she prepares to qualify for her third Olympics, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, Girard led 10 members of the Brookswood team into the 2013 B.C. high school weightlifting championships held Saturday, May 4, at Universal Fitness Centre in Surrey.
The Brookswood contingent that went to the provincial meet included Grade 8 Hunter Nixon, Grade 9 Jayson Savard, Grade 10s Breanne Anderson, Kiera Miller, Hannah Loewen, and
Brianne Kucey, Grade 11s Leslie Campbell and Jessica Fettback, and Grade 12s Morgan Rossi and Tiera Naber.
"We have a good chance to win the team high school trophy," Girard predicted before the meet.
If not for Lord Tweedsmuir, which took the team title, Girard's prediction nearly hit its mark. Brookswood finished second to Lord Tweedsmuir in the team standings.
"It was a very rewarding event for us coaches and athletes alike," Hansen said.
Brookswood lifters' results in their respective weight classes included:
. Hunter Nixon: bronze
. Jayson Savard: bronze
. Leslie Campbell: gold
. Tiera Naber: gold
. Brianne Kucey: bronze
. Breanne Anderson: fifth place in what Hansen described as "a very competitive class."
. Jessica Fettback: bronze
. Hannah Loewen: silver
. Kierra Miller: fourth in another very competitive class, according to Hansen.
. Morgan Rossi: gold
Brookswood's lifters each had different reasons why they joined the club.
Fettback, who also plays rugby and practises tae kwon do, said she joined because she thought it'd be "fun and another physical activity to enjoy."
Campbell said she likes "to work out a lot," so the club was a good fit for her.
"I play a lot of sports, so it helps me keep in shape," she said.
Naber noted that she's learned a lot of technique since joining.
"I've learned to have fun and try hard, and never give up, because every class, you can lift more and more," she said.
Naber said she still gets nervous to lift weight over her head.
"But when you get the technique down, and you do it, and you get it right, you're not going to hurt yourself," she added.
Rossi simply wanted to meet Girard, which motivated her to join the club. "I thought it would be really neat," she said.
@ Copyright 2013