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Padecky: No weight on their shoulders

  • Athena Schrijver, 13, won her age group June 13 at the Youth National Championships. At right is Chloe Tacata, 14, another national champ. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

Sweat equity, it's the barometer in which all sports are measured. Sweat represents effort, commitment, knowledge acquisition and then ultimately, hopefully, success. Sweat is a liquid adhesive. It connects everything.

You can never get enough of it. Right?

Chloe Tacata of Rohnert Park, Athena Schrijver of Santa Rosa and Will Prokop of Petaluma are weightlifters. At the Youth National Championships on June 13 in Daytona Beach, Fla., the three kids became national champions in their age groups. Tacata even set the American record for the snatch.

National Champion Weightlifters

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Each kid trains four days a week.

For one hour each day.

You read it correctly. That's not a typo. If you're a parent, an athlete or a coach, that's not what you know or believe as gospel.

“How can you create champions without working them?” That's a question Freddie Myles heard again and again, between dismissive giggles and shrugs. Myles is the owner and coach of Myles Ahead Weightlifting, the club that produced those three national champions. That question would arise at tournaments, local and national, and the answer they would receive from Myles never satisfied them.

“More (practice) is not necessarily better,” said Myles, 37.

That answer would be nearly as off-putting as others Myles would provide.

“I want to make sure they have time to do their homework,” he would say.

This confuses some coaches who have their weightlifters work out twice a day in the summer. Which, of course, didn't mess with another apparent Myles conundrum that has left some coaches speechless.

“I want them to have fun,” Myles said.

How Myles came to this philosophy — that less can actually lead to more — was an outgrowth of his experience as a kid. He was quick, athletic and believed he had to be going 24-7, 365 days a year.

“I got burnt out on sports,” he said. His reaction to year-round, one-sport dedication is not uncommon. Studies have revealed that 70 percent of all kids who begin youth sports quit by the time they are 13. Many factors contribute to such an exodus, but the loss of joy associated with being treated as a mini-professional is certainly one of them.

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