Alexis Alford never imagined the path she would take when she entered another sport at Port Allen High School.
She already competed in track and softball, but she decided less than two years ago to give powerlifting a try.
Alford made the most of the opportunity. The junior lifter’s efforts paid off in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Girls Powerlifting Championships, where she was named the Class 2A Outstanding Lifter.
“It was really shocking to see my hard work pay off after a lot of downfalls throughout the year, and struggling with confidence,” she said. “But after I won the award, it made me feel all the work paid off.”
The commitment to powerlifting led her to move from softball, but she remains an integral part of the track program.
It was a departure from the traditional team sport, and far more challenging, Alford said.
“The mentally changing part of powerlifting is knowing everything depends on you. It’s a team sport in terms of winning, but individually it depends on you if you’re going to win,” she said. “Going out there, know it’s you and that it’s not a team sport at that point, you have to have confidence in yourself and prove to yourself and your coaches that just because you’re a girl, it’s not like you aren’t strong enough or that you can’t do the same amount of weight as some boys.”
She had an additional source of motivation at this year’s meet.
A state order to end all school activities and athletic events forced cancellation of the 2020 meet when Port Allen was considered the top contender for the state title.
“We had two seniors and a guaranteed year for winning, and we thought we had it,” Alford said. “We were really upset, but last year’s situation was more of a boost for us and a confidence to do it to prove this year was your year to shine.”
Alford’s role changed after the first season.
She took a lot of advice from the more experienced lifters last, but this year she paid it forward.
“I was able to help a lot of the freshmen. It felt great for them to ask me questions,” Alford said. “Next year will be an entirely different ball game because me and a few other seniors will be helping train the younger lifters.
“We will have 10 or 11 girls returning and other people stepping up, along with a lot of new friendships. We’re having a great time.”