By Corey Poole
Natchitoches native Brittany Basco became the national collegiate champion in the 43 kg weight class and broke the bench, deadlift, and total record at the 2016 USA Powerlifting Collegiate National Championships in Providence, RI.
“My connection to Natchitoches definitely played a vital role in my success because I have so many people providing motivation and support from hours away,” said Basco. “For example, a number of people contributed to myNAPF (North American Power Lifting Federation) Championship trip to Canada with donation and moral support. Even though I have made Baton Rouge my current home, Natchitoches will always be my hometown. I couldn’t be more thankful for the support I get from those who roots.”
Basco has a diverse athletic background which started with pole vaulting, powerlifting, and soccer in high school after playing softball for 13 years.
“Lifting was my favorite part of our workouts so I decided to join the powerlifting team,” she said. “I didn’t realize that I would actually be so good at it. I started competing and routinely placing in the top three spots during competitions. I went to high school nationals and placed second my senior year.”
After graduating high school, Basco decided to continue pursuing her passion for lifting and was selected as a member of the LSU powerlifting team during her freshman year.Her accomplishments during high school positioned her to have a good chance of winning the collegiate nationals.Unfortunately, she suffered a hand injury while on a mission trip which required time-off to recuperate. Shortly after returning to training, she experienced another injury, this time to her neck, which again further delayed her goals for the collegiate nationals.
“I lost a lot of headway as a result of the injuries. After returning to training, I shifted to a higher weight class, which I found to be more difficult from a competition stand point; however, I still managed to place fourth in the nation during collegiate nationals and captureseveral records during other meets.” Basco allots some of her success right out of recovery to her decision to maintain a vegetarian diet. This is counter-intuitive for a power-lifter, but she feels it gives her a strategic advantage for maintaining weight class.
Basco hoped to build momentum as a result of her strong finish during freshman year, but she developed another injury shortly after the start of her next semester – this time a far more significant injury with a ruptureddisk.She took the entire semester off and went from lifting almost three times her body weight to relearning how to lift her legs and body.
“It was excruciating pain,” she said. “I lost a huge portion of my muscle mass. I needed to find an alternative means of exercise that could supplement my healing process. This prompted me todiscover my newest passions: acroyoga and aerial silks.”
The flexibility and strength required for acroyoga and aerial silks helped to re-build Basco’s base strength which allowed her to transition back to lifting. With steadfast determination and a “now or never” attitude, Basco competed in a qualifying meet for the collegiate nationals in Mobile, Alabama. She was able to placefirst in her weight class and secure a number of the All-American records. She used the momentum generated from her success in Mobile to secure a commanding finish at second place at the collegiate nationals in Orlando, Florida.
“I thought that I would take a break for a little while until I got invited to compete in Canada at the NAPF Championship,” said Basco. However, she found that this break would short-lived when she received an invitation in the mail. “I was so excited that I couldn’t even finish reading the letter. Luckily my mom was there to help me through it.”
Basco won second place in open and in the Junior division at 43 kg at the NAPF Championship along with breaking a deadlift record.
After her trip to Canada, She returned to LSU to rush for her sorority and realized that she was experiencing some physical discomfort. After getting an MRI she was officially diagnosed with a bulging/ruptured disk and Spinal Bifida Occulta. This set back required Basco to yet again travel down the road to recovery.
After weeks of physical therapy and progressive lifting to re-build strength, Basco was able to return to competing for the LSU Powerlifting Team and get another shot at winning the collegiate national championship. Weighing in just shy of the weight class limit at 42.3 kg (93.06 lbs) and two ounces less than her toughest competitor, Basco was confident that she was positioned for success. However, a slow start to the competition with her squat required her to make up ground with her deadlift. She was able to bounce back and finish with a 248 lb record breaking dead lift and become the first LSU raw collegiate national champion and the first LSU collegiate national champion since 2013. She also broke the team’s raw bench press, deadlift, and total records in the 43kg weight class.
Although Basco’s injuries have at times interrupted her path, she has continued to remain resilient and dedicated to her goals, finding new and creative ways to build upon her already established and recognized achievements. When reflecting on her setbacks with respect to the broken records, she states with complete confidence, “Ruptured disks aren’t forever, but training is.” It’s hard to not believe those words coming from someone who has accomplished so much in the face of adversity.