The Versatility Chronicles: Hilary Schiraldi, Berkeley Librarian and Powerlifter

Hilary deadlifts 303 lbs. for a personal best (Photo credit: Jeff Frank, Shuttersport Productions)

Library staff are just about the most intellectually curious people there are, and with social sciences being such an interdisciplinary scholarly endeavor, you’d expect people from our division to have diverse interests outside of the workplace as well as in.  Watch this space– we’ll occasionally be highlighting some of the non-workplace pursuits of our versatile workforce, starting with the amazing Hilary Schiraldi.  In addition to being a Business Librarian in the Social Sciences Division, she is a nationally ranked powerlifter in her age/weight class.

Hilary came to powerlifting (not the same as the weightlifting events we see in the Olympics, or Strongman, or bodybuilding, or even Highland Games) early.  She realized in high school that she enjoyed working with weights, and at Berkeley she actually started teaching herself basic powerlifting by taking a class with Cal’s Rec Sports, joining the Rec Sports Facility, and (natch, she’s a librarian!) reading a book.  But her practice changed direction when she had a little time to kill in the neighborhood South of Market in SF, and she found a barbell gym, SF Iron, and her new coach, Scott Kaplan.

With coaching, she really took off, and after doing several local competitions, eventually qualified to go to the USPA National Powerlifting, Benchpress and Deadlift Championships in Columbus, OH at the end of June.   In the event, Hilary participated in three different types of lifts: the bench press and deadlift as you’d expect from the event title, and also the squat (here’s a good overview of what’s involved in these lifts).  In each case, she lifted different sets of weights with different techniques (and luckily using different sets of muscles too, since all of her lifts happened on the same day). She had three attempts to lift (and increase the weight at each attempt) for each event.  In the end, she was pleased with how she did, achieving her first attempt at the benchpress (darn it, her rear end lifted from the bench on the second attempt), her second attempt at the squat, and all the way to her third attempt at the deadlift, lifting 137.5 kg/303 lbs., a personal best.  This meant she was third nationally in her age/weight class, earning a spot on the podium!

Like any world where people pursue a passion, powerlifting has communities and a culture of its own, and it’s one in which Hilary thrives (although she did enter another world in Columbus, making scented candles the day before she competed).  It’s fascinating to listen to her talk about her experiences, and if you want to hear and see more, check out her Instagram account at hil_schi (also if you really want to follow in her footsteps, her coach is @the_kaplan_method and her gym is @sf_iron). And maybe consider learning to lift yourself?  It’s great for your bones and musculature, especially your stabilizing muscles.  Competing in all three events Hilary did is called full power, and who doesn’t want that?  Here’s to versatility, and work-life balance, and Hilary’s FULL POWER!