By Don Lowe

A powerful desire to perform at a high level helped propel Monett Cubs junior powerlifting star Karlee McCallister to tremendous results in a sport she only started competing in about a year ago.

“Karlee is one of the most competitive individuals I’ve ever been around,” Monett Powerlifting Head Coach Ethan Lewis assures of this talented multi-sport athlete, who also played softball and volleyball for several years and ran track recently. “She has the drive, passion and determination to be great in everything she does.”

As for how her interest in this sport came about, McCallister remembered it was a simple conversation. “My coaches talked to me about powerlifting and how beneficial it would be for me as an athlete and a person,” she says.

McCallister details how a powerlifting competition works, while explaining, “You get three tries for each lift and those will be judged. Then we get assigned to a weight class.

“The competition is set up in one or more rooms with multiple racks for each weight class for males and females. Each rack starts with the same lift, and we’ll put weight on the barbell for the person who lifts the least to warm up. Everyone warms up.

“We increase the weight until reaching the weight of the weakest person’s opening lift. The weight increases as we work up to the stronger lifters.

“When you’re attempting a lift, you’ll be judged on whether it’s a complete lift. When everyone at your rack completes one lift, we move on to the next one.”

Coach Lewis provides insight on how competing works, as well, while sharing, “The opening lifts are the squat, then the bench and then the deadlift. Lifters are allowed to enter the competition at whatever opening weight they decide.

“The catch is the weight won’t go down. Once everyone has been given an attempt, the weight is raised. Lifters only get three official lifts per movement.”

McCallister believes the reason she has excelled at powerlifting is because “I’m a super-competitive person, so I have the drive to do the best I can. I always want to be better, so I’ll try to lift the most I can to test my abilities.”

Regarding the challenges, McCallister maintains it’s all about “overcoming a fear of lifting a weight you previously failed at. Powerlifting is mental. It takes a lot out of your body and mind, so you need to be strong in both areas.”

Assessing McCallister’s progress, Coach Lewis says, “Karlee’s improvement has come from realizing how strong she is as a powerlifter.”

McCallister says the credit for how far she’s come is that “Coach Lewis’ training program set me up for success. When he knew I could lift more, he pushed me to that point. My competitiveness and commitment have also helped.”

Overall, McCallister suggests that what is most important to being a terrific powerlifter is “holding yourself accountable, pushing yourself on those days when you don’t feel like lifting and always wanting to be better.”

Coach Lewis knows he can count on McCallister to give it her all and affirms, “Karlee strives to be the best at everything she does. She’s a straight-A student. She is an ultimate competitor.

“Karlee represents her school and community well. We are all proud of her and look forward to seeing what she can accomplish.”


Monett Cubs Junior Powerlifter
Karlee McCallister Fast Facts

Age: 16

Grade in School: 11th

Parents: Mike and Leann McCallister

Siblings: Kyle, Kelli and Kassie

Hometown: Monett, Missouri

Favorite Subject in School: Science

Favorite Food: Lasagna

Favorite Professional Powerlifter: Joy Rindfleisch

Favorite Sports Movie: Moneyball 


Accolades: Set Missouri high school state record in the deadlift with a lift of 345 pounds at the state meet in Glendale, Missouri. Won the Joplin (Missouri) powerlifting competition and the Glendale competition.