Lutcher High girls powerlifting coach on a hot streak
Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 25, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — When Kelly Magendie began coaching girls powerlifting at Lutcher High alongside her husband Jon, the two weren’t sure what the future would hold: they’d never, after all, guided a high school team before.
It certainly appears they got the hang of it.
Recently Magendie and her Lutcher Bulldogs banked their eighth consecutive state championship, continuing a dynasty that has spanned both Class 3A and 4A.
“We didn’t really know what we were getting into,” said Magendie, who also teaches mathematics at Lutcher. “When we won the first one, we thought that ‘Yeah, that’s pretty good, let’s see if we can do it again.’
“Our goal is always to win state, but we honestly take it year by year, and we’ve kept it going. We just keep that same, consistent approach to things at all times.”
A big component of her program is keeping high expectations, and not just in terms of results. Magendie stresses mental discipline: if one of her lifters doesn’t follow the rules or begins missing practice, their time on the team will prove limited.
Another is a sense of family. The team’s athletes are, she says, like daughters to her.
When the team clinched the Class 4A championship this season, Magendie said she couldn’t fight back tears.
“I held them back the last few years, but this year our team was so close,” said Magendie. “We had one girl who hadn’t been able to compete (at state) the last few years, and seeing her make it … There are three or four who have been with me for a really long time, two of them since their seventh-grade year. It gets emotional.”
Magendie attended Nicholls State from 2001 to 2005 where she competed as a powerlifter. It was there she met her future husband and coaching partner, who she is quick to credit for the success of the Lutcher program.
“I couldn’t do this without him, and I know he’d say the same of me,” said Magendie. “We’re a package deal.”
After winning three consecutive Class 3A state championships to begin her tenure at Lutcher, Magendie and the Bulldogs moved up to Class 4A. Aside from simply competing against bigger schools, a new, daunting challenge loomed: Alexandria High School, which had won a whopping 18 straight state powerlifting championships.
“We had to go up against a powerhouse,” said Magendie. “We knew we had our work cut out.”
But Lutcher snapped the massive streak at 18 and continued their own, winning their first Class 4A crown. They’d go on to defeat Alexandria and the rest of the powerlifting field four more times before Alexandria’s move up to Class 5A last summer, where the Trojans finally captured their 19th state crown.
“We didn’t tell our team that Alexandria had moved up until regionals,” said Magendie. “We didn’t want them to lose focus.”
Now, the state’s longest streak belongs to Magendie’s Bulldogs.
“The target’s on our back, now,” she said.
Despite the dynastic run, Magendie said her confidence level ebbs and flows with her team’s yearly situation. Prior to this season, she felt very good about the Bulldogs’ chances, with Alexandria moving up and the Bulldogs bringing back the majority of its 2013 championship roster. And that confidence was backed in full by her team’s performance: Lutcher scored just two fewer points than the second and third place teams combined at the 4A state meet.
Next year, she said, it will be more of a fight, with the Bulldogs losing some key competitors this season.
But whether the streak reaches nine or not, one thing seems certain: Lutcher will compete. Magendie said she has a team full of girls who have shown willingness to sacrifice and pay the price to achieve great success. Though powerlifting doesn’t get the same kind of attention as other team sports at the high school level, her athletes show as much dedication as those of any other sport — if not even more.
“Anyone can become a powerlifter if they really want it,” said Magendie. “It just takes a lot of discipline to separate yourself.”
Through her eight year tenure, one thing has become known statewide: nobody does it better than the girls in Lutcher.
“It doesn’t make the ego go up, but it just makes you proud to see the results of all the work and sacrifice,” said Magendie.