Higher education beat: College president loosens up by lifting

  • Article by: Asha Anchan
  • Star Tribune
  • August 15, 2012 - 7:22 PM

It's about setting goals and having discipline, said Larry Anderson, president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, Minn.

Yes, these are important qualities for his role as president, but Anderson was referring to his weightlifting hobby.

He lifted 404 pounds at a recent competition to qualify for the World Bench Press and Dead Lift Championship in Las Vegas in November. He holds the Minnesota bench press record in the 54-to-60 and 61-to-67 age groups.

But Anderson, 61, enjoys the camaraderie of competition and believes there's a tie between weightlifting and education.

"You can't succeed if you don't do the work," he said.

People who find out about his weightlifting feats are surprised, Anderson said, because he's an "average guy."

But when his colleagues saw him lift, they understood.

"In the weight room, it's almost like nothing is going to conquer him," said Laura Sylvester, an adviser and the volleyball coach at Fond du Lac. "He's in a whole other world when he's in there."

The first time she saw Anderson lift was when she was a student at Albrook High School in Saginaw, Minn., where Anderson was the football coach. She remembers being "awestruck" by the weight he put on the bar.

Lifting with the football players was his way to relax, Anderson said, and his after-work routine has continued.

Even with a job that requires business suits, he's consistent in donning athletic shorts and his weightlifting vest for the campus weight room.

"When you bring students in our gym and show them around and Larry is lifting, it's kind of neat to say, 'That's our president and he's benching 400 pounds!'" said Damien Paulson, the college in the schools coordinator at Fond du Lac.

Anderson likes to push himself to the max, and his colleagues said this attitude extends to all aspects of his work.

"He never settles; he always wants to be better," Sylvester said. "He's never satisfied, which is the same attitude he has for our college."

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