A bigger, better weight room was one of the many improvements at Ridgewood when the school built its field house a couple years ago, and Jim De Rose saw an opportunity upon its completion.
De Rose, a special education aide at the high school, said he competed in Olympic lifting and powerlifting 25 years ago, and he remains fervid about weight lifting. He approached Ridgewood athletic director Rob St. John with the idea of playing host to powerlifting competitions soon after the school’s weight room was upgraded.
“It’s something unique that he’s passionate about,” St. John said. “That’s one of the things I like is the individual, diverse talents of the people at Ridgewood. They all have different ideas and thoughts and things that motivate and drive them. Jim is very engaged in the power lifting thing, and when he came to me and suggested it, I thought it was a great idea. I really did.
“I wanted him to run with it, and I wanted to support him in his passion of powerlifting — and see if he could get it off the ground. The first time he did it [run a powerlifting competition], I thought it went real well.”
De Rose said there have been three powerlifting competitions since Ridgewood’s new weight room was completed.
In powerlifting, competitors get three lifts in the squat, bench press and deadlift. Scores are compiled by adding up a person’s best weight in each lift and the person with the highest total is the winner.
De Rose noted that one of the major benefits of powerlifting is that it’s safer than Olympic lifting.
“Olympic lifting you have a lot of injuries involved, especially when you’re lifting the weight from the ground and then over your head all in one complete motion,” De Rose said. “In the snatch [event], you see a lot of injuries. This is a lot safer. … Everyone has their own type of workout technique and everything, but powerlifting has three of the basic lifts when you want a weight lifter to acquire strength and improve your muscle mass.”
The most recent powerlifting competition at Ridgewood took place on Nov. 8. It was won by sophomore Vinny Scaletta, a member of Ridgewood’s football and wrestling teams. De Rose said Scaletta won with a score of 985 pounds.
Students comprised a majority of the field in the most recent competition, but Ridgewood math teacher Tristan Kumor also took part. It was Kumor’s first powerlifting competition and he said he finished with a total weight of 695 pounds. One of the things Kumor said he noticed was how seriously De Rose took the competition.
De Rose said he abides by the rules set forth by the International Powerlifting Federation, including what constitutes a correct lift. In the squat, Kumor said competitors’ thighs had to go below parallel. Competitors also weren’t allowed to bounce the bar off of their chests on the bench press, which is a common practice in weight lifting.
“Actually I had a bench press [lift] that he took away because I didn’t hold it down long enough on my chest,” Kumor said. “[De Rose] took it very seriously. He went to the rules and he had announcements and everything. It was good, because a lot of kids think they know how to lift weights, but they don’t do it properly. He makes sure that everybody is accountable, and he’s strict with the rules, which is good.”