In preparation for the Arnold, this was an email conversation between my coach, and three of his athletes.

It is a demonstration of what healthy competition and good sportsmanlike conduct is all about. It’s also an example of the PrettySTRONG mentality, “competitive, yet united through strength.”

2013 Arnold Raw Challenge - Women's 72kg Nominations
2013 Arnold Raw Challenge – Women’s 72kg Nominations


I hope this email finds you well and that your training is progressing nicely.  The 2013 Arnold is less than three months away.  Can you believe it!?  Time flies.

Anyway, I want to share something that’s been on my heart and mind for a while. I’ve been thinking about it, praying on it, and wanted to bring it to your attention.  By now, I’m sure this topic has crossed your minds as well.

I’ll be coaching a lot of lifters at the Arnold.  At first glance it looks like I’ll have about eight lifters (four ladies and four men) in the NAPF Raw Challenge and a few more in the Pro American (equipped) meet.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that three of the eight in the Raw Challenge are you.  Better yet, you’re all in the same weight class competing against each other.

Vanessa is my most tenured pupil.  I’ve been coaching Vanessa since June 2010.  I started with Sandra in March 2012 and Punky since Raw Nationals in August 2012.  Let me start by saying, I absolutely LOVE working with all three of you.  You’re all wonderful women and I’m honored to help you achieve your goals.

Personally, I love competition and what it brings out in me.  I relish the opportunity to beat my own PRs first and then measure myself against my peers. I think it’s awesome that you each of you also possess a competitive spirit and will to succeed.  It’s even more excellent that the three of you know each other and are friendly.  Friendly competition is healthy and fun!

Your strength levels are pretty close.  In cases such as these, it often comes down to which lifter(s) make their lifts.  I’d love nothing more than for each of you to go 9/9 and hit PRs in every discipline.  Nothing would make me happier and I believe that’s what every powerlifter aims for.  The reality is and statistics show that won’t happen every time you compete.

I suppose what I’m getting at is I want to coach and help each one of you on game day but I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m playing favorites or picking sides because I won’t do that.  I can certainly handle three lifters in one flight – that’s not a problem.   If you already planned on bringing someone with you to serve as a coach or handler, that’s fine too and I won’t be offended.

I think each of you knows me well enough and how I believe in picking attempts.  Per usual, I’ll happily email you in advance with my recommendations for your lifts and then help you execute that game plan as best as possible.   I just wanted to broach this subject in advance so there isn’t any awkwardness or confusion as the date approaches.

I welcome your thoughts.


Matt Gary

USAPL Coaching Committee Chairman

USAPL Senior International Coach

Supreme Sports Performance & Training, Inc. (SSPT)


Matt, Sheryl, and Sandra,

I am trilled to be going to the Arnold for the first time, and I am honored to be up “against” you women. I think we all know our job when we get to the platform, and that is to make OUR lifts, not anyone else’s lifts. Matt has taught us all that. Training is where the winning takes place, the platform is just where it all comes together. I have never once thought Matt would be favoring anyone because he has just as much invested in all of us. Let’s ALL bring our training to the platform and have our best day ever. We have the best man to lead us there; 9 for 9s for the Matt Gary girls!

The USAPL coach of the year has three women in the Arnold, on the same day, in the same weight class, as he should! It’s an honor to be Matt’s pupil!

Thank you for that email, Matt! And see all y’all in 3 months!!!

~ V ~


Hey Matt!! Sandra, Vanessa!

Matt your email warms my heart. You are so much more than a coach and I am grateful to have this chance to work with you. This is my third year at the Arnold and last year I competed by my self and have done that a lot over the last few years. The best thing about the Powerlifting community is that everyone helps everyone out. Just knowing that you are there for encouragement and support if I need it is worth its weight in gold!

I know you want whats best for each of us and I know you will do everything you can to get the best out of all of us at the Arnold. I have never once thought that any one of us is being treated differently than the other. I also think Sandra and Vanessa are stand up women and I admire both of them. I know they are humble and not caddy when it comes to their competitors and I think of them as friends before competitors.

Thank you for your email Matt it just gives me another thing to add to my “Good Qualities of a Real Coach” list!

Girls, I can’t tell you enough how much you inspire me. I look forward to these events every year when I get to get to know you guys better.



Matt, Sheryl, Vanessa!

First, Matt you are an awesome leader and it makes me proud to lift in an SSPT shirt and learn from your vast knowledge in the sport. I thank you for the email to inform us ladies, but I know that you always have the greatest plan in mind for us and that there would never be favorites made. I know both Sheryl and Vanessa, these are both strong women mentally and physically. I love being able to lift on the same platform and cheer you ladies on. Ladies let’s train hard and have the BIGGEST show on the platform come from our class!

Train hard, train smart! LET’S DO THIS!!

I can’t agree more with Sandra. The women’s 72kg weight class will definitely be the most exciting battle on the platform!

See everyone there!

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