FORT POLK — A group of Olympic-style weight lifters recently collected two second-place team finishes as well as several individual titles at lifting meets in New Orleans, April 4, and South Beauregard High School, April 11.

FORT POLK — A group of Olympic-style weight lifters recently collected two second-place team finishes as well as several individual titles at lifting meets in New Orleans, April 4, and South Beauregard High School, April 11.

The team, headed by former Army captain Jose Rodriguez, goes by the moniker “Rodriguez Barbell Club” and includes active-duty soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, contractors and military family members.

Team members include Gladybel Cabrera, Heike Kiefer, Tiffany Auzenne, Grace Fuller, Ester Parker, Anna Contreras, Chris Sheehan, Preston Shepard, Alexandra Fantauzzi and Rodriguez’s daughter, Natalyzbel Rodriguez, 7.

“We are not focused on the typical powerlifting that you usually see that consists of bench press, squats and dead lifts,” Rodriguez said. “We are geared to Olympic weight lifting, which includes the snatch and the clean and jerk.”

Just like in power lifting, competitors are allowed three attempts in both events to post their best lift.

At the meet in New Orleans, Rodriguez said his group had eight lifters and finished in second place. Individual winners included Cabrera and Shepard, while Auzenne and Sheehan won second-place trophies.

“Gladybel (Cabrera) also was named the meet’s best woman lifter,” Rodriguez. “That means that pound for pound, she lifted the most weight.”

At the South Beauregard High School meet, Rodriguez said only six members of the team competed due to military obligations. However, the team was able to win second place and the following individuals also placed in their categories: Natalyzbel Rodriguez, first place; Cabrera, first place; Kiefer, first place; Shepard, first place; Sheehan, second place, Contreras, second place; and Parker, third place.

“My main goal is to created a program for kids that can help them gain more confidence and build their self-esteem,” Rodriguez said. “In the long run, when you teach kids values, they will become better human beings regardless of the career they choose.”

Rodriguez said becoming involved in a sport such as weight lifting helps youngsters set goals and work toward them.

“They develop determination and success usually follows,” he said.

While most might think those who are already athletic make the best lifters, Rodriguez said that’s not necessarily true.

“You need to look at the total person, someone who is humble and as willing to help others as they are learning themselves,” he said. “That makes your best lifters and your best human beings.”

Rodriguez said those who are interested in learning about Olympic weight lifting can join the team for a workout.

“We work out at different times based on our lifters’ schedules, so give me a call at (787) 469-2693 and I’ll let you know when our next practice is,” he said. “We welcome everyone, whether you’re old, young, a veteran lifter or just starting.”