Junior outside linebacker Levi Goolesby loves nothing more in football than hitting, but he will have to forgo that part of the drills when the Ider (Ala.) High School team opens practice. Beyond that, Goolesby will miss the jamboree and Ider's first game.
But he has a good excuse. The 5-foot-2, 116-pound dynamo from Flat Rock will be in Poland for an international weightlifting competition. He is the United States powerlifting champion for his weight and age (16).
Goolesby will be competing on Aug. 28, the day he turns 17.
He won the gold medal at one set of USA Powerlifting nationals in Wisconsin in March and followed that up with the gold at the USAPL Men's, Teenage, Junior and Open National Championships on June 22 at Orlando, Fla. That decided U.S. representatives for Poland.
At Orlando, Goolesby did 402 pounds on the squat lift, 270 on the bench press and 358 on the dead lift -- passing up his third dead-lift attempt because he already had won the meet. He believes he can do more in each of those events.
A straight-A student who should have no trouble catching up whatever he misses from the first days of school while he's in Europe, Goolesby also is active in Edgewood Baptist Church in Trenton, Ga., and is lauded for his character and disposition.
"Levi is a wonderful representative for the United States," said family friend Jim Bryant from Rising Fawn. "He is very polite, humble and unassuming in personality."
Goolesby has been involved in competitive powerlifting a relatively short time, after being introduced to the sport by football teammate Dillon Blalock. Goolesby went with Blalock to the Alabama state meet in January 2011 in Gulf Shores.
He got the attention there of Sherman Ledford of Duluth, Ga., a lifting coach who owns a Quest Nutrition business. Goolesby began training with Ledford on a regular basis, including weekly trips to Duluth as big meets approached. That has greatly refined his "form," Goolesby said.
He said his mother has had him ingesting herbs for years, so he took easily to Ledford's nutrition regimen.
"I'm not real happy about missing some football," the young athlete said, "but I think this is a great opportunity for me. And to represent my country and my area obviously is a great honor."
The trip is expensive, though, and he's working to gain sponsorships. Anyone interested in helping can call 423-413-3068.
Contact Ron Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6291.