Girl Power Goodrich Team Raising the Bar


Photos by Katy Kildee

With his lengthy beard, buzz-cut hairstyle, intense facial expressions and all-around passionate nature, Ron Roberts is hard to miss.

The Goodrich Girls Powerlifting coach tends to stand out during competitions while standing behind his athletes, simultaneously serving as spotter, mentor and vocal encourager while they attempt to better their personal bests, reach medal podiums and collect honors.



“I tell them the two most important things are to have fun and enjoy the pain,” he says. “Most girls are amazed by what powerlifting does for them – like instilling confidence, improving their overall focus and helping them improve academically. Every year, several girls on the team are straight-A students.”


Coach Roberts has taken lifters to national championships in most years of his tenure, which began in 2014.


Roberts has been guiding the Martians for nine years and producing state and national champions. Countless other Goodrich lifters have qualified for and participated in those competitions.

“I’ve had the pleasure of watching them transform from the time they join the team,” says Roberts, who is assisted by former Goodrich state qualifier Michaela Sardo. “Sometimes, I’ll come into practice and catch them flexing. They all seem to appreciate the connections and friendships they make through the sport as well, which has been wonderful to see.”



Roberts and his squad are in the midst of another satisfying season which will culminate at the USA Powerlifting High School National Championships March 30-April 2 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Evelyn Edenburn, a junior, is headed there for a second straight year, determined to add a varsity national championship to the junior varsity title she captured in 2022. As of February 16, Edenburn was the lone Genesee County lifter and one of only 12 from Michigan who had qualified to compete in the varsity division.



She secured a place in the national championship field in spectacular fashion by winning the 100-kilogram (220 pounds) division at a qualifier meet Goodrich hosted on January 21. Edenburn began by squatting 365 pounds before bench-pressing 165. Both marks are state records for her division. She equaled her best-ever deadlift with a 375-pound effort for a total of 903 pounds, surpassing her previous best total score by nearly 50 pounds.

Edenburn’s total was also the best overall among females in the competition, not just her division. The only current Genesee County lifter with a higher personal best is Flushing senior, Joanna Stockton.


Sister Act: All four Edenburn girls are now part of the powerlifting program.


“I was super excited to get over 900 pounds after really working hard to get there,” Edenburn says. “I was progressing toward it and was confident in myself going into the qualifying meet at our school. It was a very special moment, kind of overwhelming even, and I know I made my coach proud.”

Indeed, she did.

Roberts was also confident Edenburn would break the 900-pound barrier after watching her win a second straight state USAPL championship in November.


“Most girls are amazed by what powerlifting does for them – like instilling confidence, improving their overall focus and helping them improve academically.”
Coach Ron Roberts


“Evelyn came so close to shattering her deadlift best with a great effort at 393 pounds, but the judges ruled she slightly pushed the bar with her hips and could not approve it,” he says. “That would have left her at about 892 pounds, but she had to settle for a 352-pound deadlift. I could tell it was only a matter of time.”

Goodrich competes in both USAPL and Michigan High School Powerlifting Association events and Edenburn went 845 in winning her next competition, a December 17 MHSPLA regional in Grass Lake which qualified her for the state meet for the fifth time in as many seasons on the team. The varsity state meet is March 4 at Adrian High School.

Edenburn is already in her fifth season with the team because MHSPLA rules allow lifters in grades 7-12 to all compete at the high school level, another selling point Roberts uses to recruit new faces. The only stipulations are that those in grades 7-8 must remain on junior varsity and grades 11-12 must compete at the varsity level. Coaches determine where lifters in grades 9-10 compete.


The rules have led to a unique situation for Goodrich this season – all four Edenburn sisters are now part of the program. Evelyn and Lilly, a sophomore, have been joined by seventh-grade siblings Mabel and Adeline, born one year apart.

“It’s been exciting having two more sisters on the team working out with Lilly and me,” Evelyn says. “Now, I can really show them by example what it takes to be successful in powerlifting. I know they are looking up to me and that gives me extra motivation to make them proud.”

A year ago, Lilly and Evelyn both competed in the same division (90 kg or 198 pounds) at the junior varsity national championships with Lilly taking third behind Evelyn’s national title.

This year, Edenburn will be joined at the national championships by freshman Kyleigh Randall, who qualified by winning the JV, 65kg (165lb) division at the USAPL regional with a 540-pound total, showing significant progress in her second season on the team.

Randall overcame some nerves as most eyes in the gym were watching her complete a 248-pound deadlift to qualify.

“I was nervous early in that competition and had settled down more when I got to the deadlift, but it was a little crazy when they announced to everybody that I was about to attempt the lift to qualify,” she says. “I was just so happy to be going to nationals.”

Roberts was elated.

“Kyleigh is my best up-and-coming lifter and handled the situation beautifully at the end, despite having to deadlift on command with so many people watching her.”

Randall is the lone Genesee County girl and one of only four from Michigan scheduled to compete in the JV division. She boasts the third-best qualifying mark in her weight class.

Roberts has taken a contingent of his lifters to the national championships in most years of his tenure which began in 2014 when daughter Veronica wanted to join the team, but discovered it was without a coach and in danger of folding.

In stepped her father.

“I had always loved lifting weights and three days after I found out Goodrich had no powerlifting coach, I became coach,” Ron recalls. “I felt it was something I could do for Veronica and other Goodrich girls who wanted to powerlift. I had never lifted in competition and realized there is a lot of bad information out there when it comes to coaching the sport and had to sort out what works best for me and the girls.”


The program began taking off and in 2017 he coached his first state champion – Abby Joseph, who became his first national champion a year later. Willow Tetmeyer captured varsity state titles in 2020 and 2021 and JV championships in 2018 and 2019. Roxanne Vickory was a varsity state champion in 2021 while Harli Hadden, who attended Burton Bendle, but lifted with Goodrich after Bendle dropped its program, was a state varsity titlist last year.

While Roberts can be an intense coach, social media images depict how much he loves clowning around with the team as well. For the past two years, he has let any varsity state champ pick the color he should dye his beard. Last year, Hadden chose green. Vickory picked purple in 2021.

Evelyn Edenburn appears poised to become the next to determine Roberts’ beard hue. She is a clear favorite to add a varsity state crown to the JV title she won as a freshman.

Lilly Edenburn (242-pound division), Madison Goltry (242), Taylor Adams (220), Casey McClellan (114) and Calix Nelson (132) will all be competing in the JV state meet at Flint Kearsley High School March 11.

Roberts’ tender side also came out at the Lake Orion regional after watching Adeline Edenburn take sixth in the 165-pound division with a 400-pound effort, including a 215-pound deadlift, her best by 30 pounds. Adeline was born needing a liver transplant which prevented her from competing in sports until discovering she could join her sisters on the powerlifting team.

“I cried like a baby when Adeline secured that deadlift and I was not the only emotional one,” Roberts says. “The whole crowd got behind her. It’s great the way her sisters look out for her and the four of them are such a great story.”

No matter what happens at this year’s state and national competitions, Roberts is elated that all of his state qualifiers and most of this season’s 12-member roster will return next season. There is also the possibility that one of next year’s newcomers could eventually become Goodrich’s latest state or national champion.

“Even though this team is one of the youngest I’ve had, it’s also one of the closest I’ve had and there’s no drama, other than the sisters sometimes picking on each other,” Roberts says with a chuckle. “I can just coach, but practices have been fun too. I set up a big Bluetooth speaker to blare out music and it’s been great watching them crush it when lifting and enjoying practices. They even sometimes dance between sets.”

Added Kyleigh Randall: “Practices have been special times for me because we are all there for each other, helping each other with tons of encouragement.”


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