WATERVILLE — In the moments before she competes, there is either hip hop or old school rock n’ roll coursing through Vanessa Currie’s ear phones. The music is a power station, charging Currie like a human battery. James English, her coach and boyfriend, reminds Currie of all the training, all the hard work, she put in to get to this point.

Then, a judge calls her name, and Currie goes to the platform. All that energy provided by the music and English’s calming pep talk becomes kinetic. In a brief fit of power, Currie lifts a weight. In a powerlifting competition, this process repeats itself nine times.

“First attempt is usually the most nerve-wracking. It sets the tone for everything,” Currie said.

At 17, Currie is a newcomer to powerlifting. Last weekend, she took part in just her second competition. It was the national championship in Orlando, Florida. Currie took second place in her division, the 63 kilogram (138.8-pounds) weight class of Teen 2, 16-17-year old girls. Currie was still recovering from a nagging hip injury suffered playing softball, her old favorite sport.

“Up until the week I competed I wasn’t too nervous,” Currie said. “I hadn’t squatted or deadlifted for a while. That was kind of nerve-wracking. It was hard to get my strength back up there. Once I got there, and actually on the competition day, I felt really confident. I knew I’d put in all the work I needed to.”

For years, softball was Currie’s first athletic love. She took up the game when she was 8-years-old. Her father, Fred Curie, is a former body builder. Weight training became a way for Currie to supplement her softball skills, get a little more bat speed, get a stronger arm. Weight lifting was Currie’s athletic side hustle.

Then, she discovered power lifting, and softball took a back seat.

“At first I was a little nervous telling (my parents) about it. They were kind of set on me doing softball in college. I’ve been doing it since I was 8-years-old. I grew up doing the sport. I dedicated a lot of time to it. When I told them I wanted to do powerlifting instead of that, both my parents were really supportive,” Currie said.

Currie loves the results-oriented aspect of powerlifting. It’s not about how you look, she said, it’s about strength and physics. It’s about setting and achieving goals, Currie said, and that’s something she enjoys.

“It’s very technical. A lot of people think it’s based off your brute strength. It really isn’t,” Currie said. “It’s all about your leverages and your body mechanics. You learn a lot about your own body and how you work.”

There are three disciplines to powerlifting: Squat, bench press, and deadlift. When discussing her personal records in each, Currie focused just on the maxes she’s reached in competition. As she put it, “that’s all that matters.” Currie’s personal bests in each are a 242-pound squat, a 143-pound bench, and a 314-pound deadlift. In competition, the three are added together for a total score. You get three attempts at each. In Orlando, Currie was 8 of 9, failing on just her second squat.

Most nights, Currie, a senior at Temple Academy, trains for two to three hours at Waterville’s Champions Fitness Center. English, also a power lifter, writes out her training programs on a spreadsheet, and Currie gets at it. She makes sure she stretches. She sees a chiropractor, in part to help the recovery from her hip injury. She monitors her diet and makes sure she gets enough sleep.

The reason she fell in love with powerlifting is simple.

“I just loved feeling strong, basically,” she said.

By finishing in second place in her age group, Currie qualified for the Pan American Championships, which will also be in Orlando next year, the date to be determined. She also has her eye on the world championships next June in Calgary, Canada. Currie’s powerlifting career is just starting, but she found inspiration from another competitor last week. Currie competed on the same day as all the other 63 kg women’s divisions. The open division is for women ages 23 and older. Most in the group were in their late 20s, but Currie paid attention to one woman, a 40-year old who won the weight class. When Currie envisions her powerlifting future, that’s what she sees.

“I’m going to take it as far as I can,” Currie said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarcczykMTM