Friday, February 25, 2011
Jessica Scofield Interview
Some people may believe in the naive stereotype that female powerlifters are big ol' burly women. Take a look at Jessica Scofield, one of the most beautiful women you will come across, and that stereotype is destroyed. She bean training out of "necessity", turned that necessity in to a love, and turned that love into becoming one of the elite at what she does.
Q: First, Jessica, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thanks, Jason. It’s my pleasure.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I’m first generation American and one of the first in my family to graduate college and to obtain a masters degree. My family is from southern Italy and settled in Stamford, CT.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I never was athletic. I played sports as a kid, but I never “took it to the head” as a true athlete does. I was always the creative-eclectic person. I wrote over 2,000 poems by the time I graduated high school and enjoyed acting and the arts. Towards the end of high school I began training out of “necessity.”
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: It was one of those situations where I almost didn’t graduate high school. When my parents found out, my life as I knew it was taken from me. I had 2 choices: go to the gym or sit home, so I chose the first. Once I saw some women bodybuilder’s there, changes in my physique, and embraced the fact that I could better myself on all levels, I actively made the decision to stop my previous behaviors. That was over a decade ago…and the rest is history!
Q: What made you decide to go more towards powerlifting?
A: There was no choice. Once I started working out, I loved feeling strong. The challenge to me was and is: how am I going to be as strong as I possibly can while still remaining feminine.”
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: The only reason I picked up training easily and quickly is because I threw my entire self into it, meaning, each thought in my mind, every emotion I felt, I channeled into the weights. I loved and hated the discipline it takes, but it inspired every aspect of my life. Training was and is a conscious decision, regardless of if I “feel” like doing it. If I’m alive and can walk, I’m training, and I’m working! If I have an “off” day, that’s okay - life and training still go on.
Q: Is powerlifting something your family and friends supported?
A: I am blessed with the MOST supportive family! My dad and uncle both competed in powerlifting and bodybuilding. My dad, a former Marine, also played semi-pro football, so he loves the sport. As a college hammer and weight thrower, my parents have come to about 90% of my competitions. My “extended” huge Italian family is just as supportive. My friends are not really into it, but that’s why they’re my friends – they have different interests other than mine and we support and love each other regardless! My boyfriend is my coach. Enough said – he’s my rock.
Q: What made you decide to compete in your first meet?
A: I didn’t decide! One of my friends just signed me up for a deadlift only meet and told me a week before! At that time I was still rehabbing a herniated disc and I just finished my first 6-hour cycling marathon for breast cancer. I didn’t train and felt unprepared, scared, yet excited. After that meet I was HOOKED!!!! Powerlifting reminded me of what I missed - competing in the field events in college, except now weightlifting became the forefront of my passion – and I knew that defined me.
Q: Can you share some of your biggest accomplishments/
A: Biggest life accomplishments: Finding multiple passions. I helped run projects and for orphan’s and medical mission’s in Russia and Africa. For ten years I also was a physical therapy coach for a woman paralyzed with cerebral palsy. She was and is a huge inspiration. I have and continue to work with many autistic and academically challenged students. I am involved with my students, school, and the greater community. I love helping people and those who cannot help themselves.
Biggest sports accomplishments: Throwing and training with U.S. Olympic athletes, having a phenomenal throwing coach, Bill Sutherland, and throwing at the U.S. Olympic trials. I also was the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for Southern Connecticut State University’s football, baseball, volleyball, and basketball teams. Sports diversified, my certifications include yoga, fencing, and training. I have participated in 6+ hour cycling marathons for breast cancer; my training also includes kickboxing, caporeia, belly dancing, Olympic lifting, Highland Games, and the field events.
Having the honorary title for my weight class, as the 6th strongest female in America, is an indescribable accomplishment!! The fact that I’m 3rd in the deadlift sends electric through my body! The deadlift is about aggression and raw strength. The lift comes at the end of a competition when everyone is tired and bombing out. That’s then you have to have to have a “good talk” with yourself and smack some anger into you. Warriors to me are those who push themselves even when they don’t want to; because it’s in their blood to do so; Warriors forget about what they want and focus on the vision. If I can come out on top then, regardless of every physical and mental “weapon” that may be held against me, I am powerful.
Q: What has powerlifting taught you about yourself?
A: 1. No one thing can or should define me. 2. It’s my job to find, listen, and respond to life’s journeys, therefore no one else is to blame. 3. Once I find my focus, I’m unstoppable.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: Even if I hated an exercise, I convince myself I love it because I concentrate on the sensations I get once my sets are done! But I do love training back…and there’s nothing like sore legs! When I’m in training, for some reason, I love the bruises and cuts that come with wearing equipment. I get a sense of pride out of it – as if I just came back from war and fought for something, fought through something. I fought through the pain of those lifts (mentally, emotionally, and physically) and no one else did it for me; I can claim that and can remember what I had to conquer to achieve my goals.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like?
A: I am very training and diet conscious. When I’m in season, I train 4 days a week and cut down my cardio significantly. As I get closer to competing, I cut cardio out. Off season is when the work is done. I usually train 5 days a week and can do cardio for an hour or two. As a “strategic athlete,” I log all of my workouts and have done so for 10 years.
As I am deathly allergic to eggs and am lactose intolerant, my diet is very limited and regimented. Because of this, most restaurants and desserts are OUT! This doesn’t bother me because I use to be a vegetarian/vegan for 10 years, so I’m use to the disciple. I eat a lot of alkalizing food, such as vegetables (which are my FAVORITE!!!) and rice, soy, pea, and hemp protein, and green drinks. I also eat chicken, fish, and organic beef. A variety of sprouted grains, organic nuts and other healthy fats are a MUST! I eat every 2-3 hours and never deprive myself if I want something. Because of my allergies and being health conscious, I always carry food with me. NO ONE wants to see or be around me when I’m hungry!!
Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you lift for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: People look at me and never think I’m a weightlifter. That doesn’t bother me. Others, such as my students, tend to comment on my muscles and call me Ms. Buff…I find that hysterical! It’s good they know I’m more than just a teacher to them. They see me as human – or subhuman, and for that reason we inspire each other. They motivate me to be better just as I push them.
As for men, some like that I’m strong and some don’t. Here’s my take: Strong is the new sexy. Most women can’t handle that - I’m not most women. Some guys can’t either – that’s not my problem.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I don’t get sick of hearing anything positive! When it’s positive, I run over and over it in my head to push myself even further. At one competition a man came up to me and said, “You’re an ANIMAL!! You know how to attack the bar like a fearless beast! No one in here has done that and I’ve never really seen anything like it.” That will stay with me forever.
As for negativity, I see it staring at me all the time and use it as fuel to get better. Some people don’t want you to succeed and I like to piss those people off. I tend to do that easily by just being me. I’ve learned to be quiet about it, but when the time is right (in competition or in training), I get off on making some IRON- WOMAN noise!!
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: The biggest misconception about women powerlifters is that they’re beastly looking women who are ‘he-she’s’ who aren’t feminine. I don’t care if I’m misunderstood or make someone feel ‘uncomfortable’ because of who I am, that’s not my energy being wasted. I know who I am and I like playing the part of both the beauty and the beast.
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: Worst part: having an injury setback. I’ve had several herniated discs, a torn shoulder, which resulted in bursitis, not to mention all the other little injuries, or ailments that pop up from time to time. There’s always something to work through, but that’s life!
Best part: feeling accomplished yet still wanting more, learning from others, and being an inspiration. Also, a good meal, shower and a deep breath at the end of the day can be as satisfying as chocolate cake!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I admire anyone who has a drive and does something with it, regardless of gender and weights they lift. Along with that, I am FOREVER star-struck by hammer throwers, Anna Mahon and Bethany Hart. They are the epitomes of what it means to be beautiful and strong. Training with those two women was the best and most insightful time of my career. I never saw ANY two people work so hard and be so focused, male or female!
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Just one?!? Haha, I love dark chocolate and peanut butter, Dairy Queen vanilla ice-cream with rainbow sprinkles…and sometimes, well, most of the time, all I want are vegan spelt muffins!!!!
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Do it with gusto!
Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women working in the gym with the weights and not just doing cardio and things?
A: It is increasing, but more women need to lift. Many don’t know enough about training therefore, they shy away from using the weights. Proper guidance is key.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love teaching English, writing, reading, and anything music and art oriented. I thrive on helping others and enjoy participating in outreach programs. Traveling, cooking, and spending time with my friends and family is always key. I also enjoy pampering myself, what girl doesn’t?!
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Jessica Scofield?
A: 5 days a week I teach middle school English. After work I usually train, then alternate between tutoring, training others, or taking a class (right now I’m taking Italian class).
Q: Describe Jessica Scofield in five words.
A: A zealously focused freight-train!
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I went from facing death numerous times to being on top of life. To this day I am still surprised that this is me, but the glory goes to God.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I’m competing at the end of March and then at the end of the year. I’m willing to go wherever life takes me! I’m always hunting for more projects to put my hands into…stay tuned!
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Jessica Scofield the athlete and competitor?
A: Yes, Jason, I am looking for sponsors. They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsors will get Jessica Scofield - a powerlifter teacher who embodies the versatility of athleticism. I know how to promote people and products, as both are facets of my passions! Sponsors will be guaranteed a risk taker who plays fair while giving others the time, courtesy, and recognition they deserve.
Q: Jessica, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: “I have been blessed with many burdens.”
Thank YOU for taking the time, Jason. The pleasure is all mine.