A squat, deadlift and bench  press. Three movements followed by three attempts to hit your one repetition max. The newly recognized powerlifting team at the University of Rhode Island has taken these fundamentals of strength training and created an environment of personal growth.

Dan Reagan, president and founder has dedicated the last few months to bringing together young men and women to call his team. “The thing that makes me want to come to practice is seeing people become better versions of themselves,” Reagan said.

The team’s overall unity is the driving force behind their success as the first powerlifting team the university has seen. You can usually find them practicing at the Mackal Field House. Just look out for a group of 20 to 25 students equipped with wrist straps, weight belts and some knee wraps for those heavy-back squats.

Treasurer Colin Capparelle revealed that most powerlifters are insane – literally.

“The way I see it, you can’t be a normal person and like powerlifting,” he said. “The average person doesn’t want to go to the gym and put 500 lbs. on his back and squat it.”

Reagan attests the team’s ability to work together to the two- to three-hour long practices they have. Not only are their practices meant to strengthen each individual athlete, but they have also helped strengthen the team’s trust in one another and themselves.

“Last week we were doing a max squat and I tried to get into the minds of the athletes,” Reagan said. “When you go under the bar for a max you need to focus, you need to release adrenalin into your body and then just psych yourself out.”

While the average URI student probably does not understand what a one-repetition max lift feels like, it is something similar to an outer body experience. Everything around you goes silent as you adjust your feet under you. As you pull the bar close, it becomes a part of you getting lost behind the heaviness of your breath. There is nothing quite like a successful lift, especially in competition.

URI recently competed in its first-ever team powerlifting competition. Students walked away with three gold medals, three silver and two bronze. They finished second behind Northeastern, one of the nation’s best powerlifting teams.

“We don’t know if we’re going to beat Penn State, but you know what we do know? We’re going to give it everything we got,” Reagan said.

Do not let their strength fool you or their programming intimidate you, the team is a diverse group open and willing to expanding URI’s powerlifting team and have lifters competing at all different body weight divisions. They are a group of athletes stirring things up on campus and welcome anybody who may consider themselves to be a little insane.