Three sets of numbers: 105 pounds, 4-foot-11, 90 kilos. Those are Shannon McNames’ weight, height and amount she can clean and jerk as a weightlifter. That’s 198-plus pounds—nearly double her body weight—and she can snatch 72 kilos.
The Delaware Military Academy alumna and West Chester University student began lifting weights, Olympics style, in 2015 and placed sixth at last year’s American Open, which earned her an invitation to Tapei in August for the Universiade, a sports-cultural event that calls itself “only second to the Olympics.” Although the Olympics in 2020 are on her mind, too.
“Weightlifting has taught me to use my time well and enjoy my time, too,” she says. She needs to be concerned about time because she’s a full-time student, lifeguards at the Brandywine YMCA and usually practices five days a week, cycling through different techniques and exercises.
McNames, 20, studied physical therapy and exercise science before switching this year to nursing. “I’ll still be helping others” as a nurse, but she could also be referring to how she makes sure “to set the best example” for younger members of her West Chester Weightlifters team.
That also include her diet. “I try to eat pretty healthy, as time allows,” she says, noting she follows the Renaissance Periodization system,. “but I typically have a cheat day to keep myself sane.”
She earlier played tennis and did CrossFit exercises. When she switched to a CrossFit gym in West Chester, she got the attention of coach Ryan Marciniszyn, who encouraged her to pursue weightlifting.
“I saw her potential, and when she went to early meets, she generated high numbers,” he says, referring to the system used in the sport, which considers contestants’ weight and how much they lift.
Although he repeated that the Olympics are far into the future, he says “she has what it takes takes – plus the drive and the determination.”
What does she think about her future? “Gosh, I don’t know where weightlifting will take me.”