By Dana Delgado
Van “The Man” Shamblin joins a contingent of confident Liberty Hill High School powerlifters traveling to the regional meet Saturday, March 8, in Whitney.
“I’m definitely nervous,” said the first time qualifier. “It’s a big stepping stone. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think I’m ready. ”
The sophomore athlete qualified for the regional meet in the 165 pound weight division at the final qualifying meet of the season at Lago Vista.
“Powerlifting Head Coach Robert Draper and I had worked out our strategy,” he said. “When the meet was over, Coach put the numbers together and told me that I was at the top of the competition. He keeps telling me that I don’t know my own limits and has always been there for me.”
He had previously qualified for a higher weight division in the first meet of the season.
The second year varsity athlete competed in only one meet last year as a freshman, but left asking himself how he could do better.
“I got into powerlifting to condition for football,” he said, “but it’s become its own sport. We push each other. It’s good to have people encouraging you like that.”
The sophomore says the success he is having is quite gratifying and added that it has helped him in many other ways.
While it may be Shamblin’s first trip to the regionals in powerlifting, it likely will not be his last. As a testament to his determination, he has already had a championship kind of year.
Shamblin’s victories this school year have been historic and life changing.
But the triumph for this ever-so-determined Liberty Hill High School athlete didn’t take place on the athletic field. It happened in his heart.
The pivotal tackle on the Panther offensive line tipped the scales at 240 pounds last season, but now he weighs in at a fit 165.
“I feel self-accomplished,” said Shamblin. “It had a lot to do with football. I got tired of carrying all the extra weight around.”
He said he often dreaded practices because it often left him breathless and exhausted when he tried to keep up.
A picture posted last year was all the inspiration he needed.
“I had always struggled with weight and would eat everything whenever I wanted,” he said. “I just got tired of it and didn’t want to be the big person anymore.”
With nutrition help from his mother, Joanie, and the encouragement of his family including his father, Stacy, and sister, Lauren, and his friends especially Lindsey Hunter, Shamblin embarked on his mission.
High protein and low carb meals, salads for lunch, and a heavy dose of endless workouts before school and after school resulted in the phenomenal change.
“Some people didn’t recognize me,” he said. “I feel so much better and am able to go out and not feel self-conscious.”
The sophomore athlete says it has also given him an athletic boost.
“My endurance is much better and my speed has improved,” he said. “Football is a much more fun sport now.”
In his first varsity year in football, Shamblin says he really had to challenge himself.
“I wasn’t the greatest on the field but I worked my way up,” he said. “I definitely have a competitive side. I’m looking forward to next year.”
He says he will continue to hit the weight room and will try to maintain his weight in the 165-175 pound range with special emphasis on strengthening.