The Amateur Athletic Union today released its list of AAU Strength Sports Academic All-Americans. More than 20 stand-out athletes, ages six to 17, were selected from all four Strength Sports disciplines – powerlifting, weightlifting, Feats of Strength and combine.
“Our inaugural class of strength sports Academic All-Americans is simply amazing,” said Martin Drake, Chairman of AAU Strength Sports. “The list includes both 2015 AAU Strength Sports Athletes of the Year, and two past Joel Ferrell Award winners. We literally see the best of the best in this group of kids, and they represent programs from all over the United States.”
The list also includes a nine-year-old female powerlifting sensation from Oklahoma, a world weightlifting champion and record holder from California, and two Louisiana brothers who have won multiple Junior Olympics strength sports titles.
John Crofton, head coach and founder of the Jets Barbell National Strength Sports team in Shreveport, had 13 of his more than 40 weightlifters appear on the first Strength Sports Academic All-American list. “These are good kids who study hard and train hard,” Crofton said. “We’re not only proud of these athletes for what they’ve accomplished in their sports, we’re proud of them for being smart, dedicated, respectful sportsmen and women. The youth of America could take a great lesson from all these kids.”
Crofton’s two sons, 12-year-old Max and 16-year-old Noah, are among the Jets Academic All-Americans. Both are multi-time AAU Junior Olympic Games and World Weightlifting and Powerlifting champions; Max is a standout football and basketball player who was Student of the Year last year at St. Joseph Catholic School in Shreveport, and Noah is a varsity track athlete who is currently competing in Europe as a member of Team USA Junior Bobsled in preparation for the 2016 Youth Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Karter Brachear, a sophomore standout at Taylorville High School in Illinois, is among this year’s Academic All Americans; Brachear carries a 4.9958 weighted GPA, has set multiple powerlifting records and won 11 gold medals at the AAU JO Games, and serves as captain of his JV football team. Carli Thornburg, a junior at Hemet High School in San Jacinto, CA, is also among the 2015 Academic All Americans; she is a varsity volleyball and softball player, and an AAU World Weightlifting champion and record-holder who hopes to major in elementary education in college.
Multiple track and field athletes also made the Strength Sports Academic All American list, demonstrating the natural cross-over between track and the Strength Sports: these included JO Games national combine champions nine-year-old Ja’Riya Johnson, 11-year-old Luke Villaluz, and 14-year-old Zach Valentine.
Another stand-out athlete named to the Academic All-American list this year is nine-year-old Damiyah Smith, also known as The Powerhouse Princess, from Commerce, OK, who blasted onto the powerlifting scene in 2015, setting world records at both the JO Games in Virginia and the World Championships in Las Vegas. Damiyah has also created a social media buzz online, with her videos and news articles being shared thousands of times.
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