This year, Ponte Vedra High School has seen its fair share of new sports teams and exciting seasons. Recently, the addition of the boys volleyball team made waves in the community, and now new coach Mackensie Rush is putting the girls weightlifting team back on the map.
Rush, a first-year special education teacher at PVHS, is the first ever female head coach for the girls weightlifting team. She taught for nine years at a school in New Jersey, and when she moved to North Florida, she took up the position as both teacher and head coach.
Though this is not the introductory season for the girls weightlifting team, it is certainly the most successful. In previous years the team struggled to maintain barely 10 players, but with Rush as coach, the head-count is now up to 29 enthusiastic students.
Tara McGee, a senior at PVHS and one of six captains on the girls weightlifting team, has noticed big changes in the way the team runs.
“In my freshman and sophomore year it was not really put together. We only had eight girls,” she said. “Coming into this year, it has been exciting that we have 29 on the team, so we have really been able to grow it.”
The meet on Thursday, Nov. 19, was the team’s second meet of the year and one of another five that they will compete in before the end of the season.
“The girls set personal records each meet, so as a coach that is all I want to see,” Rush said. “Having a team win would be awesome, but I encourage the girls to do their personal best.”
Through hard work, and practices at least four days a week, the girls weightlifting team has done exactly that.
Rush mentioned that multiple girls made personal bests at last week’s meet, including freshman Skyler Sharp, who won third place in her 101-pound weight class.
“It is nice to see that the girls feel empowered doing it. I feel like they really enjoy being out there,” McGee said. “It is very competitive, but you also build each other up.”
The remainder of the girls weightlifting season involves five more meets, including one invitational and a districts competition in St. Augustine.
For now, the girls continue practicing and hope to set more personal bests in four weeks with their competition against Fletcher High School.