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By Dan Perrine
For the Record 

Bearden lifting for the Lord


Last updated 12/27/2022 at 11:23am

Power lifter Hallie Bearden and her proud father Jim Sharon Bearden Jr.

The term power lifter may create in some people's minds an image of a large bulky muscle bound guy with a Russian last name. Hallie Bearden is as far from that description as the earth is to heaven.

Hallie Bearden is a sophomore at Bridge City High School and since her freshman year has become a leading power lifter in Texas. The lifting of weights has strengthened Hallie's body and also her faith in God. "Nothing that you do performance wise in the gym lifting weights is done by your strength. It's all by His, and so I really got to connect on a deeper level with God through this," Bearden professed.

The Bearden family members are all involved in athletics. Hallie's brothers JS and Hutch are both football players with the Bridge City Cardinals and have worked out with weights to get in shape which is how Hallie got interested in doing the training with weights.

Lifting weights had an appeal for Hallie. She explained, "I always found an interest in it especially when I was in middle school, and when I was in the sixth grade they offered a strength and conditioning camp. The first day I went to it they got our squat maxes and ever since then I knew I was going to do power lifting."

Prior to starting power lifting Hallie had participated in multiple sports. Now she is concentrating solely on power lifting. "I knew that there was just something different about this sport, and the thing that was so different about this sport was that none of these lifts were done in my own strength and it was all through God. When you step up to that platform you had to have confidence in Him and His ability to give you strength to do this," Bearden reminded.

Different opportunities began coming to Bearden showing her what she can do in power lifting. Hallie credited God with showing her these possibilities, and she decided to put aside the other little side sports she was doing and committed fully to the endeavor of power lifting. Bearden announced, "He really showed me the spectrum of how far I could go and I knew this was something from Him and it was time to commit and put aside all the little side sports that I used to do and just go all in to what I could really do with the Lord."

The top two priorities for Bearden are power lifting and God, but not in that order. "A thousand percent God, He comes first especially in power lifting you have to put Him first," Hallie acknowledged.

As important as power lifting is for Hallie, as a teenaged girl it does occasionally take a backseat to other interests. Bearden still does cheer leading which is the only other sport in which she participates, and there are certain social events that interfere with her lifting exercises. Consistency is the key though according to Bearden so she does not stray from her weight lifting practices for any long stretches at all.

Inspiration for her training came from weight lifting coach Mike Denman who has challenged Hallie mentally to be the strongest she could ever be and taught her about how God is involved in every situation in life. "Coach Mike is just a man full of wisdom and love and has truly just put his passion into me to keep doing what I'm doing," Bearden testified.

Hallie's other coach at Bridge City High School is Rachel Hamerly. Hallie praised, "She's amazing. She truly is a coach that has your best interest at heart. She's a great coach she makes sure you've got everything you need and that you're in the right mental place to keep you lined out."

Support for Hallie to purse her power lifting has come from her family. Even brothers JS and Hutch. "They've definitely supported me showing up and being there for meets. It's kind of a tough love situation picking with me, always competing with me about who's stronger, but I know it's always out of love and just a very playful supportive relationship," responded Hallie.

Her dad Jim Sharon Bearden Jr. is so very proud of his daughter. Mr. Bearden stated, "I've always described to other people how Hallie ever since she's been a little girl has been a very, very driven and motivated child. I call her quote my good egg, I never have to worry about Hallie. She's the first one to church and the last one to leave, and she' always the first one in the weight room and the last one to leave. I'm over the moon about my little girl."

Jim Sharon Junior quoted his dad Jim Sharon Senior about it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog, adding Hallie embodies that. "She always has, and whether it's power lifting or whether it's being a good neighbor Hallie's going to be successful at whatever she does. I don't care if she decides to be a preacher or whether she decides to be an engineer or whether she even decides to be a lawyer Hallie's going to succeed in life not necessarily because of her physical attributes but because of what's here in her heart," daddy Bearden promised.

Mr. Bearden emphasized Hallie has her priorities in the proper order. He responded, "God is her beacon, and everything else falls in line. I think her outlook on life is a really good lesson, and I think we could all use a little bit these days even myself of just putting God first and everything will fall in line."

Power lifting at the high school level involves three types of lifts called squat, bench press, and dead lift. The lifter gets three attempts at each lift to do their best result.

On squat the competitor stands vertically with the barbel holding the weights on their back. When the command is given to squat they bend at the knees until the coach says up and the competitor squats up.

The bench press is lifting more with the contestant's arms. From a laying position on the bench the lifter holds the bar above their chest and when the command is given they press the weights up.

For the dead lift the barbel with the weights is placed on the ground. The lifter picks it up and holds it in place near their hips until the judge says down and that completes the dead lift.

Bearden competes in all three lifts. Usually the dead lift is the best result for Hallie over her squat total. "Every couple of months my squat will catch up to my dead lift or be better. Then a couple months later my dead lift will catch up and be better than my squat. I'm definitely stronger in the leg area and the results go back and forth between which I'm better at that season," Bearden indicated.

Bridge City High School attended a power lifting meet on December 3 with the American Powerlifting Federation (APF). Hallie achieved her personal best with 308 pounds in the squat, 308 pounds on dead lift, and her best ever on bench by pressing 160 pounds.

Power lifters compete in classifications according to their personal body weight. Bearden competes in the 114 classification. Hallie's personal best of 308 pounds in the squat broke the APF state and national record. Her dead lift also of 308 pounds broke the national APF record.

Power lifting is an individual sport but invitational meets allow the lifters to compete as a team. Bridge City High School has been pretty good at power lifting. There are around 20 girls on the team with 12 participating during invitational meets which the lifters alternate attending.

Last year the Bridge City girls had two lifters go to state with fourteen also going to regionals which was an exceptionally strong showing with many of them being underclassmen. "We should expect to see a lot more going to state this year," Hallie believes.

Bearden admitted she can be a little bit hard headed and will on occasion bite off more than she can chew. Hallie expressed, "This year I definitely want to get top three in state, and with God in the center, a lot of hard work, and just a little bit of His blessing possibly even win it."

As a sophomore the sky really is the limit for Bearden in her power lifting the next three years at Bridge City High School. "My junior and senior years it is very, very possible to win state. This year I know that it's going to be a tight situation just to really see how far I could push myself as a sophomore and what I could do in a crunch," Bearden replied.

Power lifting has benefitted Hallie mentally. Bearden described, "It has pushed me to my limits, torn me down and brought me all the way back up. It definitely has pushed me and just made me find a new strength and a whole new drive within myself. Spiritually it has brought me so much closer to God."

As might be expected power lifting has had a physical benefit for Hallie. "One thing I really love about power lifting and the workouts is you get to see a lot of spiritual parallels physically. Pushing yourself to the limit and doing it with your whole heart has definitely shown me about simpler things within the Bible and within God's purpose and in His word for me in a physical way that I can truly comprehend. Spiritually it has brought me so much closer to Him because I have to lean on Him a thousand percent in everything that I do in this sport," Bearden related.

Speaking of physical improvement Hallie confirmed that working with weights has taught her many healthy life style habits. It has put more muscle on her and increased her ability to lift the weights. Bearden said, "I remember my freshman year doing some weights and thinking it would be impossible to do this much, and looking back where I am now that's light weight it's not even scratching the surface of where I want to be or what I should be. I want to continue to maintain these healthy habits."

Hallie Bearden demonstrates the dead lift procedure which she broke the national record in her weight classification

Bearden as mentioned previously has her goals in power lifting for her remaining years in high school. She has thought about future power lifting competition after she graduates from Bridge City though APF invitational meets. "I'm not quite sure if I'll compete with a college yet because they do offer college power lifting teams, but it's not UIL (University Interscholastic League) based or by the state so there's not a whole lot invested into it. Regardless, I'm going to do some thinking but this will always have a special place in my heart and no matter if it's on a team or not I will be lifting as long as I can," Hallie said.

The future plans for Hallie Bearden will be led by her faith and trust in God to put her on the path He chooses for her. Bearden confirmed, "I want to go into the missionary ministries and I do have college plans for that. I'm really just kind of waiting on the Lord to just give a solid direction and more discernment on where to go to college."

After college Hallie believes she will seek a position in the missionary field. "I've really been trying to focus on where God has me now, but I do know a thousand percent God has a call on my life to go into missionaries and ministries and to work ultimately for His kingdom where ever that means going and in two years I'll go," Bearden concluded.


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