Leave it to Beaver: La Salle junior makes nationals

Ricky Beaver works out at the Liberty Barbell Club in Philadelphia. The La Salle juniorhas qualified for the USA Weightlifting national junior championships. LOU RABITO / Staff
Ricky Beaver works out at the Liberty Barbell Club in Philadelphia. The La Salle juniorhas qualified for the USA Weightlifting national junior championships. LOU RABITO / Staff
Posted: January 27, 2014

Sometimes when you're really good at what you do and you're really quiet in going about it, you get a reputation, one that far exceeds your ego and might be based a little on exaggeration.

Take Ricky Beaver, a junior at La Salle College High School who has qualified for USA Weightlifting's national junior championships.

Fellow members of the Liberty Barbell Club brag about Beaver's dedication, his long commute five days a week from his Northeast Philly home to the basement gym on Chestnut Street.

A two-hour trip, they exclaim.

"It's like 45 minutes to an hour," Beaver said.

Then there's Beaver's tendency, gym owner and personal coach Erin Davidson boasts, to set a personal best in the snatch or clean and jerk nearly every day he lifts.

"It got to the point," Davidson said, "that once he was rolling through our programming, we joke around, but it's true: He literally PRs almost every day. He sets a personal record almost every day. I keep being surprised."

Beaver called that "a little bit of an exaggeration."

Hyperbole aside, it's clear that the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder has progressed quickly in a sport he took up seriously only about seven months ago.

In fact, in his one competitive meet to date, in October at Liberty, he qualified for next weekend's national junior championships in Aurora, Colo., by lifting a combined 186 kilograms (410 pounds) in the clean and jerk and the snatch. He did 88 kilograms (194 pounds) in the snatch and cleaned 98 kilos (216) to top the qualifying standard by a kilogram.

Beaver, 17, started lifting when he was in grade school, using a 45-pound weight set that had been sitting in his home. He played baseball and football while in grade school. As a freshman and sophomore football player at La Salle, Beaver trained with the team and also worked out on his own in the school weight room.

He played rugby last spring and, with summer football workouts looming, decided to give up the sport and devote more of his time to weightlifting.

Beaver joined the Liberty gym in June and spends about 21/2 hours there five times a week. He lifts another two-to-three hours away from the club.

Going to Liberty involves an investment. Beaver, whom gym members nicknamed "RB," said he gets the student discount rate and pays about $150 a month.

"I played a lot of different sports growing up, and I was always pretty good, but never the best," Beaver said. "And now I finally found something that I'm really good at."

Davidson said Beaver, the club's youngest member, isn't "your typical kind of benching dude," not at all vain. With red hair combed forward, a quiet nature, and a fairly slight build, he certainly doesn't come across as one.

Beaver will compete with 22 other lifters in the 69-kilogram class at the national junior championships Friday. He is among 12 contestants in the "B" flight. The "A" flight includes those with the top 11 qualifying marks. Beaver qualified 14th.

After the junior meet, he said, his next goal is to qualify for senior nationals. His thoughts then turned to winning. "After that," he said, "maybe a couple of national championships."

Davidson, who has been coaching for seven years, thinks he can do it. She says he is determined and focused and has "a great body type" for weightlifting. But she's not expecting a championship next weekend.

"Given that this is a very new sport to him . . . I think it's going to be very impressive that he gets as far as he does," Davidson said. "I don't know that this will be the year that he'll medal, but I think he's spot-on when he says that he has a great future in the sport."

If so, there's no telling the stories they'll share about him then.



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