Starting in the Spring of 1999 with the intent of helping my younger brother Paul Doherty get better at football we began the implementation of the Bigger Faster Stronger program along with Plyometrics and the “Leaper” program for the football guys at my alma mater. Those things worked that spring as the kids were accountable to workouts and improved their explosiveness with all the legwork in the different workout modalities. The strength gains from two hour-long workouts waned as the fall of 1999 closed in and we no longer could spend hours in the weight room. Not knowing what to do I ventured into a strength and conditioning talk with Tony Ciarelli from Huntington High school. What struck me was the strength level of his average players and how simple the program was with Olympic weightlifting and how those simple progressions translated to the field. I remember asking him where to go to learn this style of lifting and he led me to Jim Schmitz.
My brother had graduated and we went to train with Jim that spring and summer down on Valencia St. When the summer was over I began to implement better snatches and clean and jerks into the program at my alma mater. We had tremendous success on the field over the four years as well as the beginning of a weightlifting team. Coincidentally, In 2002 I took four kids to the Junior Nationals hosted by Tony Ciarelli. That first group went to the Youth Nationals in St. Louis later that summer and was the last group to do so from my alma mater. After a 9-1-football year with the first victory over their cross-town rival and the first Division 1 football recruit, I moved onto my new team at Lincoln High School and in the spring of 2003 we began to train under the dilapidated bleacher along a 250-foot strip of concrete!
That first summer we opened up a strength and conditioning camp, which brought the likes of David Garcia, Philippe Lewis and Alexander Ng. Fall of 2003 brought to Lincoln a playoff appearance for the first time in years and a runner-up squad on the JV’s. We moved into a weight room inside the school and began taking trips to local meets in the spring of 2004. The fall of 2004 brought a JV championship and the arrival of the Tiongson family to Lincoln. Those two factors led to our return to the Youth Nationals that next summer in 2005 with the team of Jsymel and Melvictor Tiongson, David Garcia, Philippe Lewis, Alexander Ng, Mike Laulu and Brian Hurwick. Medals were won that third summer at Lincoln and a varsity football championship followed that third fall on the gridiron. That first Youth Nationals set off a Quadrennial that laid the groundwork for our next two. The first Quad was spent learning how to coach at my alma mater but this second quad from 2005-2008 was an explosion of terms of National level experience.
My older brother Paul had graduated from college in 2004 and competed nationally at American Opens and Senior Nationals. 2006 brought our first trip to Junior Nationals after my achieving my Level II certification in December. The likes of Daniel Camargo, Tom Bennett and Jesse Reynolds convinced me to go to Florida with four kids (Garcia/Tiongson/Tiongson/Hurwick) setting the stage for a big crew and medals from almost everyone at the Youth Nationals in Detroit. Christian Calub set a Youth American record in the 50kg class and David Garcia made the 17- under Pan Am team along with Brian Hurwick. Our first female, Kate Corbin, also made the trip as she was training at FIT in Los Altos where Paul began to work after college and had brought on myself and Robert Earwicker to help develop a Youth program in 2004. I was working full time at Lincoln, which made it easier to coach and recruit. 2007 brought about some change as my brother had moved to Sacramento and was ready to bring the second branch of Hassle Free to Youth Nationals. We had gone to Juniors in Merrillville Indiana with a bigger group in the spring and now had 19 athletes at Youth Nationals in Missouri. My brother’s contingent included Kyle Saelee, Brandell Sampson, Sae Vang and Donovan Ford. A young Ian Wilson also joined us I believe as a 13-under lifter. Not a bad first group! All of those boys made international teams with Jsymel Tiongson, Christian Calub and Chris Tiongson. Not to be outdone that summer, the girls started rounding out our squad at Lincoln and Sacramento High School. Mia Tiongson began lifting and a boy named D’Angelo Osorio tried out for football that fall. 2007 ended with our first collegiate lifter qualifying for the American Open. David Garcia lifted at the American Open with Christian Calub and my brother in Mobile Alabama. I happened to also meet my wife at that meet!
2008 ended the Quadrennial but for Hassle Free was a series of firsts. We had our first Senior National qualifiers from our kids. Christian Calub won a gold medal in the 56 kg class and Jsymel Tiongson lifted extremely well in the 69 kg class Clean and Jerking 132, which was his last competition until 2015. We closed out the quad with Donovan Ford going 6 for 6 and totaling 300 kg at the American Open during freshman Year in college. Looking back, that Quad had so many lifters that made international teams it stands out as the foundation to the next eight years.
Hassle Free’s third Quad was mind-boggling! So many lifters, so many trips, marriage, a baby and heartbreak pushed me to become a better man. 2009 began with Jenny Lam, Krislin Li, Chioma Amaechi, Brandell Sampson, Sae Vang and Ian Wilson all making the first Youth World Championship team and Youth Pan Am team. They travelled to Thailand in May for the Youth Worlds that year and performed well then followed up with a trip to Chile for the Youth Pan Ams. It also marked the biggest Youth Nationals Trip. We took 40 kids to Georgia that year and had so much success on the platform it catapulted our team to the top. Those trips would not have been possible without Dave Swanson and the Wilson family and I would be naïve in thinking that the kids we have still lifting today would be chugging along without all their help on and off the platform. Growth continued in 2010 with a monster group in Foster City at Youth Nationals hosted by Robert Earwicker and Dave Corbin who were still at FIT holding down the foothold of Olympic Weightlifting started by Paul six years previous. That summer also marked out first two Junior World competitors in Donovan Ford who had come back from a shoulder injury and an up and coming Chioma Amaechi who was going to be a freshman at UC Berkeley. D’Angelo Osorio made his first international trip qualifying for the Youth Pan Ams. 2011 was the craziest year to date as we had kids on the Youth World, Junior World and Senior World teams. Michelle Cai and Ian Wilson went to Peru that year for Youth Worlds with Ian Wilson placing 2nd. I believe it was the first World Championship medal by an American male in over 10 years. Ian, Chioma and Sae Vang went to Junior Worlds that year as I was the head coach and my wife had to step in for me at Youth Nationals in Georgia. That crew of girls and boys did really well as well as Paul was working on the second wave of kids from Sac High and I was on my third wave at Lincoln. Chioma followed up Junior World with an epic Senior Nationals performance and a 141 kg CJ to win a spot on the Pan Am Games and Senior World team. After a tough meet in Guatemala, we went to Paris for the World Championships and Chioma helped secure a second spot for the women’s team with a clutch third clean and Jerk at 140 kg. 2011 ended with a trip down to Alabama with David Garcia, Ian Wilson, D’Angelo Osorio, and Jenny Lam all performing well at the American Open. 2012 was a combination of ups and downs; we had a strong team at Juniors as Jenny Lam and Chioma Amaechi made the Junior World team along with Ian Wilson. Tragically Chioma’s younger sister passed away from liver cancer on the day she lifted at Juniors. She honored her sister by lifting and performed admirably. Unfortunately Chioma’s next six weeks were a roller coaster of emotions and despite a heroic effort she fell short at the Olympic Trials; though she did bounce back and win Junior Worlds that year. Ian Wilson did fantastic at the Olympic Trials, which were the Senior Championships for the men as well as he won Gold in the 94’s and earned a spot on the Senior Pan Am team. 2012 ended with the American Open in Palm Springs where we had a strong contingent, propelling us to a strong beginning in 2013.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get crazier, 2013 brought another Youth World, Junior World Senior World combo. Mia Tiongson and Melvin Peete made the Youth World Team with great performances at Youth Nationals in Missouri. Ian Wilson and D’Angelo Osorio went to Junior Worlds in Peru and Donovan Ford, David Garcia and Chioma Amaechi went to Poland for the Senior Worlds! We hosted juniors in Foster City and Ian Wilson broke the Junior American record in the CJ! Most importantly Donovan Ford snatched 170 kg and won a silver medal in Venezuela at the Senior Pan Ams, marking first ever Senior international medal for Hassle Free.
The success kept coming in 2014 as Ian Wilson won a medal at Jr. Worlds in Russia, another first for Hassle Free. Ian, Chioma and D’Angelo also won medals at the Senior Pan Am Championships and D’Angelo and Chioma made the Senior World in Kazakhstan. We had a huge Junior presence in Colorado where the women won the Junior Nationals and Ian Wilson set three Junior American records in the 105 kg class snatching a phenomenal 170 kg and clean and jerking 205 kg. He then followed up with a senior American record 173 kg in the snatch during his medal wining performance at the Pan Ams. The Youth contingent was smaller that year in Florida but the quality stayed high; I began to re-evaluate what steps to take to continue the pipeline of phenomenal athletes but be more efficient with who we brought to the national trips. We added some remote team members for the first time with the addition of Megan Seegert and Erin Amos and Mary Peck; Megan and Erin made the Youth World Team that year. Donovan also went to the Russia Grand Prix just 9 months after shoulder surgery! Seth Tom capped the year off at the 2014 Hassle Free Record Breakers where he set the first in three sets of American records in the 35 kg weight class.
2015 did not get any easier as our team was busy and Paul transitioned to a new high school in Rocklin. Karine Tran and Eric Gibeault took over in Sacramento after Paul’s departure and have settled in to Midtown Stength and Conditioning coaching a couple of former Sacramento High school kids and a slew of new members. The whole goal of 2015 was training for the 2015 World Champioships hosted in Houston. Unfortunately Ian Wilson was hurt and D’Angelo and David did not perform well enough to make the team. Donovan made the team but hurt his back before the meet and was unable to participate. David did perform remarkably well at the Arnold and posted the biggest total by a 105 kg lifter in years. Mary Peck also made a big total which put her on her first international team as she represented our country at the China Grand Prix in the fall. David returned to the Bay Area after Nationals and began to coach as well as train at Crossfit West owned by his high school teammate Daniel Jahanguard. The one positive at the end of the year was David and Ian getting back out on the international stage and competing in Chechnya at the Russian Grand Prix, making them eligible for the Olympics. Not to be outdone by the Seniors, Seth Tom, Claire Mackey and Kuinini Manumua made the Youth 15-under international camp and Megan Seegert and Erin Amos went to Youth Worlds and performed great. Seth Tom ended up breaking all the Youth American records in the 39 kg class and Megan Seegert broke all the Youth American records in the 48 kg class. The entire team ended on a high note at the American open where Seth Tom and Megan Seegert continued to break more American records, D’Angelo Osorio medaled, and the entire club helped contribute to running a successful meet.
2016: the last year in the Quad, Juniors, the Arnold, Olympic Trials, Youth Nationals, Junior Worlds and Rio developed in sequence and provide an opportunity to reflect on the body of work which is Hassle Free BBC. We now have a thriving post graduate community at Lincoln HS, continued youth development in San Francisco, Youth program at Whitney HS, junior and senior program at Midtown, our Crossfit affiliate at Crossfit West in Santa Cruz, and our elite remote athletes like Megan Seegert in Chico, Erin Amos in Colorado and Mary Peck. We hope to continue this matriculation of talent into Northern California and hope that the performances in 2016 set up our road to Tokyo 2020. We carried the momentum from the 2015 AO in Junior nationals where Megan Seegert and Erin Amos earned a spot on the Junior World team. The Arnold followed and provided an opportunity for D’Angelo Osorio to shine and go 6 for 6 posting the highest CJ in the last three quads. His 210 kg clean and jerk puts him at the top of the 105’s and qualified him along with Donovan Ford for the Olympic Trials. Donovan went to Russia for his second Grand prix of the Quad and performed well tuning up for trials after his back injury from Worlds. They both performed decently with Donovan gutting out his last CJ at 206 kg to make the last spot on the Pan Am team. Megan Seegert broke the American Record in the snatch at the Nationals and Jenny Lam posted a monster 176 kg total, clean and jerking 100 kgs! Not to be outdone, Mary Peck set all new personal records along with a big total that puts her back on the map for all the international teams in 2017. The Pan Am championships followed and Donovan Ford came through with a lifetime best 373 kg total helping Team USA secure a spot for Rio and earning him a silver medal. Ending the Quad on a high note was so impressive after the turbulent injury riddled four years. I only hope that the big four 105’s can get healthy and stay healthy all at the same time! We are now on our way to Texas for the Youth Nationals and the last National event on the calendar before the Olympics. Megan and Erin are in Tiblisi Georgia at the Junior Worlds with Ben Hwa who is the head coach for the women and is slowly taking over more and more of the coaching duties at Hassle Free. In Texas we won top three in 7 out of 8 categories and brought home the National Championship in the 16/17 girls and 13-under girls. Julia Yun highlighted as our only triple gold winner posting the highest total in the 13-under age group. Claire Mackey and Kuinini Manumua are now ranked in the top 15 for the girls and most of the kids did well and set personal records. Paul’s crew had 35 athletes compete! Lazaro Enriquez finished 1st overall in the 11-under subdivision in the 39 kg class as well. Over in Tiblisi, Megan Seegert set two American records with a 88 kg clean and jerk and a 160 kg total finishing 6th and Erin Amos finished 14th going 4 for 6. The ladies and Coach Hwa did great.
All in all, it’s amazing to look back on the progression of our club from its original birthplace at the old bleachers outside to where we are now. I couldn’t be more proud of all our athletes and thankful for the immeasurable support we’ve had along the way. I can’t wait to see our American athletes compete at Rio and get geared up for another successful quad.