By James Combs
Outstanding Student: Alexis Gamez
Raising the bar for female weightlifters.
Photos: Nicole Hamel
- Will graduate Leesburg High School in 2021.
- Captain of LHS weightlifting team.
- Student representative for the LHS program Pledge Against Bullying.
- President of Student Government Association (SGA), Region 2 vice president of Skills USA, and a member of the school’s Beta Club, National Honor Society, Interact Club, and Triad Club.
- 3.8 grade-point average.
How do you balance academics, athletics, and clubs? I keep a Google calendar. Also, the Skills USA program has taught me planning, organizing, and time management. They also teach us flexibility and adaptability. I’ve learned to be flexible with my time.
You’re a female weightlifter. Are you a tomboy or girly? Girly. I wear white bows to big weightlifting meets. Nobody else has a bow; it’s my signature thing. So, I’m all about bows and barbells. I also love to shop, put on makeup, and wear dresses.
How strong are you? I can bench press 160 pounds. I can back squat 260 pounds. My clean and jerk is 180 pounds. Pound for pound, I’m the strongest female on my team. I set a school record in the bench press and hold the school’s total record for bench press plus clean and jerk.
Do your male counterparts respect you? Yes. When they come into the weight room and see me lifting the same amount of weight they are, there’s no gender barrier. They don’t think it’s weird I’m lifting as much as they can. And I don’t see myself any different from the boys. You can still be pretty and lift barbells.
What advice would you give small girls considering weightlifting? Seek discomfort, risk boldly, and always try to get out of your comfort zone.
How do you stay strong and fit? I have a high protein intake—147 grams a day. I use an app called MyFitnessPal that logs my steps for the day and how many calories I consume in a day. Each morning I complete 150 pushups and 180 crunches. Then I do 30 split squats. I also run two miles each day after school and spend 25 hours each week in the weight room.
You are a strong anti-bullying advocate. Tell me about that. I got into the program my freshman year. I saw a group of people who had others saying bad things about them. I wanted to be there for those students. Being someone who others could talk to and rely on is the person I enjoy being. When students come up to me and attempt to badmouth another student, I don’t have anything to do with it. I do not tolerate badmouthing at all.
Future plans? My first choice is to attend Lake-Sumter State College and then attend nursing school at the University of Central Florida. Lately, though, I’ve been considering going into the hospitality and tourism industry. I was in my school’s culinary program for three years, so if I did something in hospitality and tourism, it would be baking.
Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County's many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!
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