Video: For mind and body, powerlifting is about ‘pushing to be better,’ says Cormac Walsh ’17
As a boy, Cormac Walsh ’17 of Biddeford pursued powerlifting to build his body and self-esteem.
An overweight and somewhat unhappy boy, “I had the choice of remaining that way, or make myself happier,” he says.
Video story by Josh Kuckens
He chose the latter, lost 100 pounds by the start of high school, and began to lift. And lift. And lift, setting youth powerlifting records in Maine and New Hampshire in high school.
Today, he’s an accomplished adult lifter who finished third in his weight class at the Maine Powerlifing Championships last fall. He can dead lift 570 pounds. (Equivalent to 27 bobcats, or one female polar bear, or half a white mule.)
He’s also a Bates biochemistry major.
“It’s about pushing to get better.”
Whether improving his mental or physical well-being, whether building mind or muscle, Walsh’s goal is “not about getting stronger. It’s about pushing to get better.”
Each lift bring him to the razor’s edge both mentally and physically. First, he has “to conquer myself, and then the bar. And lift it.”
Lifting is intensely individual, yet Walsh found a way to use his sport to build a bit of Bates community by starting a Bates powerlifting team.
Teammate Nicholas O’Brien, a Bates staff member, says powerlifting has given him a deeper insight into one of life’s great challenges: how to manage the psychic tussle between strength and vulnerability.
“It’s frightening, in the sense that you are trying to lift weights that you are barely able to lift,” O’Brien says. “You have this irony of being strong and lifting a lot of weight but also being really vulnerable, [and] there’s a pretty high chance of failure. During a competition, it’s hour after hour of being confronted with this reality.”