Raising A Strong Daughter

Posted on July 15, 2021 at 12:00 AM

The image of what a girl should grow up to be, look like, and do can be daunting.

Our fit dad Eric Todd shares how he’s raising his daughter to be strong, independent, and not afraid to lift the heavy weights.

So, this last weekend was a banner weekend for old ET.  I competed at USAWA Nationals.  I won my division and took 4thoverall.  After almost 20 years of competing in All-Round Weightlifting, I was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame.   During the National meeting, I was elected as the 3rd ever secretary and treasurer of the USAWA.  This all felt pretty good.  But it all paled in comparison to sharing the platform with my 10-year-old daughter Phoebe. 

Where it Began

I host several USAWA events from time to time, as well as the Quarterly Postal meets for my club, KC STRONGMAN.  Every time, as a goof, I would ask my kids if they were going to compete this time.  They would always answer no.  As we would be lifting, my daughter Phoebe would always watch and listen.  When I would tell her she could go play if she wanted, her response would be “no thanks” as she continued to absorb what was going along around her.  

After she was 9 (which ironically was the age at which I started lifting weights) I jokingly asked Phoebe if she wanted to lift in the Old Time Strongman Championship which I was promoting.  To my surprise, this time she said yes.  So, we went to work.  Meet time came, and we had only one other female competitor. 

My only hope for Phoebe was that she would work hard, lift well for her, and have a good time.  I only assumed that she would come in second to this full-grown lady with whom she was competing against.  You can imagine my surprise when the formulas were calculated, and Phoebe squeaked out the overall win.  

Nationals - A Surprising Outcome

Phoebe competed in the USAWA National Championships with me next.  Her training was sound, and she seemed to enjoy the process.  She was excited to lift in a place that was not her own daddy’s gym.  

When the dust settled, she had won her class, placed 2nd overall in the women’s division, and was selected by her peers as the Nation’s Best Newcomer, and contributed to a second-place club finish.  It was a good weekend for my daughter.  

Giving Them the Freedom to Choose

I have always been adamant that sport would come at the desire of my kids, and not me.  So when Phoebe decided to compete in weightlifting, I have always told her that she does not have to compete, but if she chooses to, the expectation will be that she works for it.  

A Foundation of Hard Work

My family  is a long line of hard-working folks.  I spent much of my youth working with my grandpa, Gus Lohman on the very farm that we live on and work today.  The kids are old enough that they work with me some of the time now.  I tell them the stories of those that came before us as we work.  They both have really started to take pride in the concept of working harder than other folks to achieve things.   

Over this whole process, Phoebe has evolved.  She has stopped making excuses for why she cannot do what I ask of her in her technique/lifting, and she just tries to do what I ask of her.  

She is becoming coachable, which is a true virtue in sports that I want for my children.  She listens and has improved immensely because of it.  One competitor at Nationals joked that I could not possibly be her coach, as her technique is much better than mine.  

Building Strong Women

It is important to me to raise a strong daughter.  She comes from a long line of strong woman.  Her mother works harder than anyone I know.  

My mom is of that same cloth and has always taken pride in her work ethic.  Phoebe’s namesake, my grandma, was always the last teacher to leave the schoolhouse because of her dedication to her students.  Phoebe’s Great, Great Grandma Wilhoit once clambered down into a well to save a child.  

Phoebe, like her namesake, has a very gentle, generous soul.  But when the chips are down, she is one you want to have on your side.  She can work in the field and build fence like most lads her age cannot.  She carries on the legacy of the country spirit of our family.  And this proud papa, surely was proud to share the weightlifting platform with her.


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