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Coach looks to put Hinesville on map
Hinesville City Councilmen David Anderson, Charles Frasier, Bobby Ryon Keith Jenkins and Kenneth Shaw and Mayor Jim Thomas present coins to Team Hinesville weightlifters Jaleel Menifee, Mack Brunson and coach and Olympic Weightlifter Jenna Bussard at last week’s council meeting - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

Ranked 36th in the world among women weightlifters in the 75+ kilogram weight class is not enough to satisfy Olympic weightlifter Jenna Bussard. She has loftier goals in mind.

"I want people to know Team Hinesville," she said. "Hinesville is not on the map… but now with Mack (Brunson) being on this team, he’s putting Hinesville on the map and I want the rest of this team to put Hinesville on the map."

Team Hinesville has been around for some time.

According to Bussard, they are a sister branch of Team Savannah’s Weightlifting Team.

"When we go to these meets we are Team Savannah," she said. "But when people ask us as an individual athlete who do we represent we say Team Hinesville."

Bussard became the team’s coach two years ago and propelled the squad up a level in training and competition.

Among her top performers is Brunson, a student of Liberty County High School. He’s been a member for two years.

"I’ve been coaching the team for two years," Bussard said. "And in those two years we actually had people go somewhere. Now we have team participation and Mack (Brunson) will soon be an International Team member of Team Hinesville. He will be the first member of team Hinesville to go somewhere."

Brunson recently finished second and seventh, respectively at the 2009 National Junior Weightlifting Championships March 19-22 in Foster City, Calif.

He qualified for the 2009 Pan-American Weightlifting Championships in Chicago slated for June.

Bussard said she has 10 lifters on her team. Five have qualified for major meets.

"My main goal is to make this team a better team," Bussard said. "I want the whole team to do well. I feel like right now we are kind of like an individual team but we are working toward getting more of the team involved and qualified."

Bussard said she landed the coaching job by luck. She certainly doesn’t lack the qualifications.

Last year, Bussard finished fourth in the World Weightlifting Championships in Greece.

She was a junior national champion four years in a row. She went to the Junior Pan-Am Games in 2004 and won first in the junior and senior division. In 2005 and 2006, she competed in Russia and China.

She was ranked No. 36 in the world as of Nov. 28, in the women’s 75+ kilogram weight class.

"My best snatch lift is 98K and my best clean and jerk is 126K," she said. "I am not where I should be, but my main focus right now is on coaching and not lifting."

She was already certified as an Olympic weightlifting coach, but in order to coach Team Hinesville she also had to become certified as a personal trainer.

The team works out at the gym adjacent to the Shuman Center in James Brown Park.

The gym is free and open to the public.

Bussard said another goal is to try to promote the gym and to get people to work out.

"All of us try to help each other out," she said. "Some of us are more knowledgeable than others. There really isn’t any personal training there unless you are doing Olympic weightlifting, but if you do want to try and come in there and get in better shape I’m certified to do that."

The team will be head to the AAU Junior Olympics in Iowa from July 27-Aug. 8.

"Our main focus is trying to raise money for the AAU Junior Olympics because we want to take the whole team," Bussard said. "I don’t want it to be an individual thing. I want everybody in the squad to participate, instead of it being just me and Mack heading out for the trip. I want everybody on my team to go."

Bussard was addressing the city council at last Thursday’s meeting, asking the city for any help they could offer.

"My mom has to pay for everything," Brunson said. "So if they (the city) can help us out with that, it would be great."

Brunson, Bussard and Team Hinesville will also compete May 2-3 at the 13th annual Matt Davis Memorial in Savannah.

Brunson is also scheduled to head to Gainesville for school-age competition in the summer. His goal is to continue to get stronger. He wants to clear 110K in the snatch. His ultimate goal is to make the Olympic team.


Gym hours

Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m.

Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30-6:30 p.m.

Fridays from 3-8 p.m.

The gym is closed on the weekends because that is when Team Hinesville competes.

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