Today@Sam Article

Bearkat Club Sports Triumphs: Powerlifting And Men's Lacrosse

March 21, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd


Powerlifting.jpegNumerous club sports organizations at Sam Houston State University are on a hot streak this spring. The SHSU powerlifting team is one of many, with over 30 members of the team qualifying for the national competition in April.

The impressive number of Bearkat lifters, while not unheard of, shows a notable increase from recent years. SHSU’s team features people from all walks of life. As a recreational sports team on campus, the group does not offer scholarships but provides a welcoming environment for lifters of all backgrounds and experience levels.

“I always pictured us as kind of an underdog,” said the president of the powerlifting team, Ricardo Caballero. “We really mold our lifters into the lifters that they hopefully will become by the end of their college careers. That’s something we really take pride in.”

Caballero himself has been molded by the program; as a former high school soccer player, he had only dabbled in weight training with his team, but realized through lifting he would be a better, stronger player on the field and dove deeper into lifting on his own. After coming to SHSU to study criminal justice, Caballero found the powerlifting team and with it a community to pursue his newfound passion with.

And he’s not the only one - Kristal Ledesma is only in her second year of lifting and will be going to the national competition for the second time.

“It’s been a very thrilling and amazing experience on the team,” Ledesma said. “It’s such an empowering environment, not only is the sport itself empowering but the people and the team. Everyone is so sweet and welcoming, so it’s been an amazing experience competing.”

Ricardo CaballeroThe welcoming environment has consistently brought in new recruits, which has allowed the team to send 20 or more students to the national powerlifting competition regularly. Caballero finds that more former high school competitors have engaged with and joined the team in recent years, and combining their experience with their teammates’ passion has been a recipe for success.

As the competition approaches, Caballero and Ledesma are focused on keeping the team healthy and safe. For Ledesma, the team’s safety/sergeant at arms officer, safety is basically her middle name. During practice, if she’s not lifting, she’s roaming the training area, making sure everyone is using the correct form and things are put away. Her vigilance helps ensure that the team not just qualifies for nationals but can put on a good show when they get there.

“As power lifters, we’re going to push bigger weight and it’s really important for people to be there to spot and catch if there are any failures or if something happens,” Ledesma said. “We’ve done this a pretty good amount of times to know how to do it and to make sure they’re safe because at the end of the day, we want our lifters to be safe and to be able to do what they can do.” 

For Caballero, having support from Ledesma and other spotters on the team can make all the difference. Last year, he was still recovering from an injury when he went to the national competition and hopes he and his team can make waves at this year’s national competition.

“I’m really excited, I think this year will bring us a challenge and hopefully we’ll do well against other colleges, as well,” Caballero said.

Men's Lacrosse

Lacrosse.jpegThe Bearkat men’s lacrosse team is back and better than ever. After not having a team for seven years, a group of dedicated players put in the work to relaunch the team and are now reveling in the glory of their successes. Last year, the team went undefeated in the district and were in the district championship.

Xavier Guerra, a senior construction management student and member of the team, has been playing lacrosse since he was in the third grade. When he transferred from Texas Tech University, he was shocked to learn that the Bearkat lacrosse team had been out of commission for so long. He connected with a group of lacrosse enthusiasts who had started working on recruiting students to revamp the team.

“We were trying to find people that had played before, but it was kind of hard to that around here,” Guerra said. “It was difficult trying to recruit people that even wanted to play but it was even harder to try to teach them the game at the same time as trying to get better as a team.”  

The team of old heads and new blood put in the work and now have a strong team that is aiming for another championship run this year. While the challenge was daunting, Guerra says it was all worth it and he hopes that they have built a team to last.

“Getting the team to this level was really rewarding and it made practices more fun where we can finally compete with each other instead of trying to teach somebody and being able to get better at the same time. It made practices and games more enjoyable,” Guerra said. “We’re trying to establish that core group of guys that way next year, when I graduate and others graduate, they still have a team, and are able to recruit a few more new players and compete like we do today.”  

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