It’s often said that when a window is closed, a door will open. Roughly two years ago, Kami Stockett was a frustrated basketball player at Mansfield High School, sidelined by injury. Today, she’s a state powerlifting champion.
As a sophomore, Stockett had surgery on her foot, effectively ending her basketball career.
“For that time period I needed something to do,” she said. “I was down about my surgery and couldn’t play basketball anymore.”
Stockett turned to weightlifting. As a member of the track and field team competing in discus and shot put, Stockett had worked with coach Bruce Cogdill, who two years ago took over the girls powerlifting program. Cogdill convinced her to try lifting and – as they say – the rest is history.
“It was somewhere that I could go that, even though basketball wasn’t a sport for me anymore, powerlifting was something I could succeed in,” Stockett said. “Powerlifting is competitive. I didn’t realize it was so competitive until I got into it. I’m a competitive person, so that was something I really liked about it.”
Her junior year, Stockett began competing in powerlifting. It’s not a UIL sport, but is sanctioned under the governing body of the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association. Stockett advanced to the state meet and placed fifth. She decided she would win it the next year.
“I told myself I’m going to work super-hard and come back and win state. And so that’s what I did,” she said.
Her initial success and the subsequent work Stockett put in was no surprise to Cogdill.
“I knew she was going to be very good,” he commented. “She’s very coachable. If a coach asks her to do something, she’s going to give everything she can to get it done the way we ask her to do it. She’s tenacious; she doesn’t accept losing very well.”
Even Stockett was surprised at how much improvement came from her dedication. In early meets during her senior year, she was ahead of where she anticipated she would be.
“I didn’t really know the first few meets how strong I actually was,” she said.
Cogdill would tell Stockett to attempt certain weights that seemed high to her, but she would do them. It was then she felt she had a legitimate chance to win state.
“I put it in my mind all year that the state title was attainable, that it was something I could reach. So I just kept working and kept working,” she added.
Stockett set a regional record in the deadlift in qualifying for the state meet, and entered the state meet as the frontrunner, allowing Cogdill to plan their strategy.
“We didn’t have to go for it as much,” he said. “We didn’t have to risk as much. So we had a pretty set plan going into it and it worked out.”
Stockett squatted 365 pounds, bench pressed 165 pounds and dead lifted 400 pounds en route to a 930 pound total – 15 pounds more than the second place competitor – claiming the gold medal in the 198-pound division.
“I was excited and I was happy, but I also felt like, ‘Wow, when you do work hard at something and you put all your mind and effort into it, you can achieve anything.’ And it really opened my eyes to that,” Stockett said. “I knew I could get there and if I worked hard I was going to earn that title, but once I did, I was like, ‘Wow, this is what I feels like.’ And I know now that I can continue and whatever I pursue, that if I put my heart and my soul into it, I can achieve whatever I want.”
And while Stockett won’t compete in powerlifting after high school, she has accepted a track and field scholarship to Stephen F. Austin University – and weightlifting has helped her improve her technique and distances in both discus and shot put.
Stockett points out that it’s not completely accurate to say she won’t be competing in weightlifting.
“Even though I won’t be competing as a powerlifter, I still am competing against myself and competing against the maxes I set this year,” she explained.
Stockett admits she sometimes look back at the closed window of basketball.
“I miss it a lot because it wasn’t really a choice of mine to stop,” she said. “It was my body and feet telling me, ‘You can’t do this anymore.’ But I found something else that I could be competitive in, and I’m so thankful for that.”