‘I can do all things through Him Who gives me strength’
January 3, 2022
This month, the Catholic Voice salutes archdiocesan Catholic schools and those operated by religious orders as we prepare to observe Catholic Schools Week Jan. 30 through Feb. 5. With the theme “Catholic Schools: Faith, Excellence, Service,” the nationwide effort recognizes and celebrates the achievements of our Catholic schools and the valuable contributions they provide to young people, as well as our Church, communities and country.
This article is the first of several planned for this month to highlight some of the people and programs that make Catholic education special. Check back for more stories throughout the month.
Record-breaking powerlifter from Creighton Prep finds peace, confidence in God
Lying on his back on a weight room bench and flanked by three spotters, Broc Evitch is about to do something he’s never done before: hoist a metal bar loaded with 385 pounds of weights above him until his arms are fully extended – twice – to break a school record for a double repetition lift.
Other powerlifters at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha gather around to witness the feat and to shout encouragement during their team’s after-school practice.
They’ve come to expect something phenomenal whenever Broc, a senior at Creighton Prep, hits the weights.
On the back of his T-shirt and on Creighton Prep’s weight room wall is a quote that keeps him grounded and humble: “I can do all things through Him Who gives me strength,” from St. Paul’s Letter to the Phillipians, chapter 4, verse 13.
When he’s positioned and ready for the lifts, his dark blue eyes stare off, focused intensely, but not on anything exteriorly.
“He’s in the zone,” as his coach, Jesuit Brother Patrick Douglas, would say.
Broc’s face reddens and he grimaces as he lifts the bar from the rack above him, lowers it to his chest, then heaves it upward.
As his arms straighten out, his teammates cheer. The school bench press record has been set.
But that record won’t last. Broc – whose family is part of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion – regularly pushes past his own powerlifting records.
In September Broc set a world record for 17-year-olds in his weight class (221 to 242 pounds) when he bench pressed 347.5 pounds.
That amount has already become history for Broc as he hits new weight levels and hopes to break five records at a high school state competition Feb. 12 at Creighton Prep. To accomplish that, he would have to win every category in which he will compete: bench press, squat, deadlift, a combined total of those lifts, and a coefficient rating, which correlates the amount lifted with body weight, pitting powerlifters from all weight categories against each other.
Broc also has set his sights on summer, when he’ll be 18, possibly in a new weight class and aiming to break U.S. and world records.
FAITH, HARD WORK
The passage from St. Paul on Broc’s T-shirt has become his motto, in weightlifting and in other areas of life. He sees how powerful the Scripture verse is for others as well.
“That saying doesn’t just apply to lifting,” Broc said. “That applies to anything: personal struggles, depression. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about depression and how that saying has helped them through it, or just personal pain, whatever it is. I think of it the same way. Every time it helps out a lot.”
Broc spends time in personal prayer before each meet, taking time to reflect on what he’s been given and the faith that’s required in powerlifting, especially in regard to safety.
“You’ve got to have faith to put that much weight on your body,” he said.
“Praying before a meet just brings me peace,” Broc said, as God keeps him calm and collected.
Broc has progressed rapidly in powerlifting because he works tirelessly, his father, Chris Evitch said. “It’s constant training. He does three hours a day.”
And that’s where his faith comes in, Darleene Evitch, Broc’s mother, said. “Sometimes you don’t want to do the things that make you stronger. But if you do them, you become stronger.”
That type of stubborn faith helps in many circumstances, she said. “I think that determination – whatever it is when you talk to yourself and say ‘If I get out of bed and do this, this part of my life gets stronger. Whether it’s weightlifting or powerlifting, walking around the block or getting up and going to church, whatever it is.”
For Broc, that determination has paid off.
“I have confidence in myself,” he said. “I know what I can do.”
Powerlifting combines natural strength, technique, passion, dedication and a winning mindset, Broc and his parents said.
“It’s definitely 80% mental, 20% physical,” according to Broc, “because you really have to have a mentality that you want to move that weight or it will not move.
“A weight won’t move unless your heart and brain tell you to move it. You never have an idea that you cannot lift the weight there.”
For the Evitches, powerlifting is a family sport that has included Broc’s father, brothers, uncles, great-uncles and cousins. “It’s just in the blood,” Broc said.
Broc has been lifting since his early teens. He redshirted for Creighton Prep’s powerlifting team his freshman year. By sophomore year he began to stand out, winning the state competition for every lifting category for his weight class.
“At the end of my sophomore year, when I broke the (school) bench record, I definitely realized that I had some sort of talent,” he said.
With high school competitions scrapped in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns, Broc’s parents and friends helped him create a garage gym to help him stay competitive. He’d lift weights two or three times a week, and friends often joined him in the makeshift weight room.
Lifting without any special equipment, Broc is breaking records set by others who were “equipped” with gear that enables them to lift more, his father said. “So the weights he’s doing now are completely raw, straight power.”
The teen has been smashing records at his high school regularly, just by showing up at practice and lifting more than his previous lifts, Brother Patrick said.
“I don’t know if he realizes that half the gym stops what they’re doing to watch him lift,” his coach said, “because what he’s doing is very impressive. … And I’m like, ‘Guys, get back to work because he’s still warming up’. … If we stopped for every one of his sets, we’d never get out of there.”
Broc competes in one of the bigger weight classes in high school powerlifting.
“So he’s turning heads because he’s lifting a lot of weight, probably the most in the room,” Brother Patrick said. “But when the lighter weight guys are going for a weight that he knows is a lot for them, he’ll run over and start screaming for them and cheer them on.
“People don’t often realize that pound for pound the lighter weight guys are really, really strong,” Brother Patrick said. “And he’s right there cheering them on. I love that. I think that’s so great to see, that he encourages people, no matter what’s heavy to them. He knows they’re struggling, and he’s cheering them on.”
‘MAN FOR OTHERS’
Broc helps set the tone for Prep’s team in a rare high school sport that has freshmen and seniors, the big and the small, all on one team.
Creighton Prep has been the state champion in powerlifting the past 11 years with teacher Dan Barton as head coach. Barton stepped aside as coach this year, and Brother Patrick, the former assistant coach, has ably filled in.
Brother Patrick said he’s seen a lot of talent over the years, but Broc is unique.
“We’ve had great lifters before, but to have great lifters who are humble, part of the team and help guys at all levels” makes Broc special, the coach said. “It can be tempting to not do that at his age.”
“The way he’s carrying himself is definitely as a man for others,” an important point of formation at Creighton Prep. “That’s something we constantly drive into guys, that we’re a team, you’re a man for others. And he definitely is. I can easily say that.”
Powerlifting is about more than breaking other people’s records. “It’s about lessons learned,” Broc’s mother said. “It’s about competing against yourself. … It’s all about what you’re doing and how you can personally grow.”
At the same time, Broc is definitely a team player, his coach said. He helps other powerlifters improve “because he knows that will help the team.”
“He’s a captain, and I rely on him to be a leader, and he lives up to that for sure,” Brother Patrick said.
“He’s very coachable in that he will often come up to me after practice and ask if there’s something he can do specifically to address this or that in his lift,” the coach said. “That shows his drive. He wants to get better even though he’s already extremely good. … He’s asking ‘What more can I do?’”
Though Broc is passionate about powerlifting, he has other interests, too, which include art, playing guitar, forging knives and other items out of metal, hunting, cooking, gardening and canning.
He plans to study business in college with hopes of using his art skills for medical illustration or to design prosthetic devices.
Broc wants to continue powerlifting after high school graduation and is considering attending Creighton University, where Brother Patrick coaches a club team.
“That would be pretty fun to have him as a coach all the way through college years,” Broc said.
Broc could continue powerlifting at almost any college – competing individually if the school doesn’t have a sanctioned or club team.
“He doesn’t have to go to a school with powerlifting, but I would hope that he would be involved in the sport in some way … because he’s very good at it,” Brother Patrick said.
“I would love for him to keep lifting because he’s a natural. He has strength, but he also works very hard at cultivating that gift.”
The coach estimates that Broc is about 10 years away from his prime in powerlifting. “And he’s already a world-record holder for his age group. I would like to see him keep using that gift and keep working at it and compete in college.”
Broc hopes to eventually bench press 500 or 600 pounds and deadlift and squat “crazy amounts of weight.”
“But that just takes time,” he said.
“Those are crazy ideas, but other than that, I mean to just keep on doing it, whether I do it for competition or just for myself. I think it’s important for my health.”