April 30, 2024

Leesburg Weightlifters Muscle Their Way to First Girls State Championship in school history.

2.8 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

Leesburg Weightlifters Muscle Their Way to First Girls State Championship in school history.

2.8 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2024|

Pioneers of Weightlifting

A girls team has won a state championship for the first time in Leesburg High School history.

The girls weightlifting team coached by Josh Boyer accomplished the feat by winning both the Traditional and Olympic classes with a total team effort.

“Being able to be the first ones to accomplish winning a state championship for a girls team in Leesburg High School history feels amazing,” says weightlifter E’Mia Jones, who wasn’t exactly championship material when she began weightlifting. “I hope it inspires young girls to know that they can accomplish anything you put your mind to. I am a testament to that. I never would have thought three years ago when I started lifting that I would be a state champion, beating some of the best competition in Florida. But here I am. No matter if it’s sports or life you can be who you want to be. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible.”

E’Mia remembers feeling scared when she first got into the weight room. 

“I could barely lift 100 lbs. of weight,” E’Mia says. “When I look back at that, it is very humbling knowing how hard Coach Boyer pushed me to be the best I could possibly be, and now that I am a State Champion, I can look back and see how all the hard work was worth it.”

E’Mia was one of four Yellow Jackets crowned individual champion.

E’Mia won the Olympic class. Nevaeh Wells took first in the Traditional Unlimited class. E’Mia was also third in Traditional Unlimited, while Wells finished third in Olympic.

Mileysa Lebron Escudero won the 101-lb. Traditional class and claimed second in the 101-lb. Olympic class.

Kaitlynn Brady, the 2023 state champion in the 101-lb. Olympic class, reclaimed the top spot. Additionally, she placed third in the 101-lb. Traditional division. 

“I only weigh 87 pounds but was able to put up over 250 pounds of weight, which is nearly three times my body weight. (It) was a thrill,” Kaitlynn says. “I can’t thank coach Boyer and the girls enough for giving me the strength to become a state champion in back-to-back years. I love this group; it means so much to have been a part of it. I hope we inspire young girls to get into this sport and I hope we made everyone proud.” 

The win was a thrill for the whole team. 

“The thing I take with me is how much fun we had,” says Jordan Simpson, who finished third in Olympic and sixth in Traditional lifting. “Sports are serious, but you also have to have fun. I wouldn’t trade this season for anything. We had a blast and winning a state championship was just icing on the cake. We can always look back and say we were the first girls’ team at Leesburg High School to ever accomplish this, and that is a humbling feeling.”

Kaitlynn says the girls’ faces and excitement were “incredibly rewarding.” 

“They acted like champions all year and they deserve this,” Coach Boyer said. “Weightlifting is about individuals, but it’s also a team sport. Even if a member of the team does not finish in the top three, they are equally as important in finishing fourth, fifth, or sixth, et cetera.”

Leesburg took home the big trophy, but LHS wasn’t the only Lake County school that scored points. Individuals from other Lake County schools who medaled are listed below. 

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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