Imagine growing up competing in a sport at the highest level only to fall short of your ultimate dream. In 2008, Heather Snethen faced this reality. From the age of 10, Heather was a weightlifter. But she wasn’t any young lifter…her dad, Dennis Snethen, was the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Head Coach and has been coaching since 1978. Under her father’s watchful eye, Heather ascended onto the National stage.
Heather won the 2000 Junior Nationals, 2001 American Open and took 4th at the 2007 University World Cup. For the three years leading up to the 2008 Olympic Trials, Heather was a resident at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dedicating her life to one thing, making the Olympics, took its toll on Heather. After failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Heather found herself struggled to find the motivation in the gym. Talking that time in her life, Heather said, “I just wasn’t having fun anymore. Mentally and physically burnt out.” After discussing it with her father, they both felt it was best “to find out what real life is all about.”
Weightlifting was all she ever knew up to this point, but she took what she learned in weightlifting – hard work and dedication- and applied it to her new life. With her lifting career behind her, Heather worked as a dental hygienist. A year later, Heather left Colorado Springs and moved to New Mexico, then Florida, and then Arizona. She continued to work as a dental hygienist, but by 2012 she just didn’t feel right. She had lost close to 15 pounds and didn’t feel herself.
When she moved to Arizona she googled Olympic lifting clubs and found Tucson Barbell Club. What started out as just having fun and lifting with new friends quickly became more serious. Getting back into weightlifting rejuvenated Heather, but that also meant having to make some difficult decisions around her personal life. Heather ultimately made the tough decision to pursue her passion for weightlifting.
With this new mindset, Heather started Glamlet Athletics give women an option to express their individual personality while on the platform competing in front of friends, family, competitors, and fans. No longer would female weightlifters need to purchase XS men’s singlets that only came in black. As Heather expressed, “you have to glam it up sometimes.”
Around the same time, Heather talked to Amy Everett and decided to move to California and start training with Catalyst Athletics. Things were going well at Catalyst as she got back into her groove. She competed in the 2013 American Open and posted 56-72–128 for 8th place in the 48 kg weight class. While definitely a respectable finish it was not satisfying to someone who grew up competing for the podium on the national stage.
As 2014 rolled around, Heather continued training and making gains, but something was still missing. Unable to pinpoint what was bothering her, Heather made frequent calls to her dad. After some discussion, her father, Dennis, finally asked her why she was training with everyone but him.
And then it clicked. What she was missing was her best support system, her family. So yet again, Heather packed up everything and moved back home to St. Joseph, Missouri. It was now August 2014 and normalcy had finally returned to Heather’s life. She was now back in her element, lifting day in and day out under the watchful eye of the most important man in her life, her father. Together Dennis and his daughter have worked over the past year to get Heather back on the national platform.
In March, Heather qualified for the American Open with a 60-75–135 total in the 2015 Pony Express meet. She is training twice a day in preparation for the American Open and is ready to prove that she is back.
In addition to lifting, Heather is staying busy creating custom Glamlets. On top of new styles of women, be on the look out for the “Manlet”. Soon, both men and women will be able to rock some style while putting big weight overhead. Keep your eyes on social media as Heather will working to debut these by the end of the year.
Heather is definitely one that stands out in a crowd, let alone the weightlifting community. She has brought a lot of personality to weightlifting (which the sport could use more of) and is never shy about voicing her opinion. Heather sums it up nicely, “different is so much better than normal and boring.”
Special thanks to Sen Studios (IG: @sen_studios) for the images.