Athlete of the week: Dawn Hickman, Elk River, Power Lifting: 9-for-9

Dawn Hickman and husband Steve work out in their personal gym at home. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Spoorts editor

Few people on earth can lift triple their body weight. Dawn Hickman of Elk River, who started pumping iron eight years ago, is getting close.

Hickman, 43, a tiny competitor at 4-foot-10 and 99 pounds, did a 275 squat and 270 dead lift in an American Powerlifing Federation meet  June 11 in Madison, WI. The “triple” would be 297 pounds, within reach in squat and dead lift.  Her bench PB is 205.

“She is one of the best female lifters in the country,” said her trainer Lloyd Hemenway, a former national champion.  “I think she’ll win a title at Idaho.”

Hickman is gearing for a world meet in Idaho in early September after causing a stir in Madison, going 9-for-9, making every lift, a coveted feat in this sport. She hoisted 225, 255 and 275 squat; 145, 155 and 165 bench; and 235, 259, and 270 dead-lift. You can view her performance on YouTube — super dawn 9 for 9 at 99 pounds.

Dawn Hickman, shown here during her bodybuilding competition days, has moved into power lifting with impressive early results. (Jim Pearson Studio photograph)

“I was more consistent that day,” she said. “I had been a little nervous before, but by then I knew what to expect.”

Hickman, a waitress and manager at Daddy-O’s Cafe, and mother of three teen daughters, works out with the West Metro Team that includes her husband Steve and trainers Hemenway and Mike Anderson. The Hickman’s have a terrific gym at home in a garage.

At ERHS her sport was track, running the 800, 3200 and 1600 relay. With marriage and children, she was out of sports until age 35. While working out at The Gym one day, she noticed a poster for a body building meet. “I could do that,” she decided. She trained  three months before her first meet and wound up doing 11 over three years, earning a few trophies.

She stepped away for a while but got back two years ago, this time power lifting. Steve, who lifts with her, made the call to Hemenway, whom the couple knew slightly from  The Gym, to ask him to train his wife.

Hemenway, sales manager at West Metro GMC and Buick in Monticello, and a national champion in 2006, also trained Andy Fiedler, who achieved the triple-body-weight lift.

Hemenway was quickly impressed – “She has tremendous potential; she is very strong physically, very gifted, and she learns quickly” – and Dawn became his primary focus. He also had his company sponsor her. “Dawn is a good image for our dealership,” he said. “The fans and promoters love her.”

Hemenway beat stronger guys because he had superior technique. He imparts that knowledge to Hickman. On the bench, her shoulders and  butt are flat on the bench, feet squarely on the floor, back  arched and elbows tucked in. On dead lift, he taught her the sumo method, feet wide apart, head up, thrusting from the legs. On squat, toes wide out, and dip deeper than judges expect.

Hickman has done two bench meets, and two full meets. In her first full meet, in Apple Valley, she started well, got a little rattled and missed some lifts. But she was fully prepared at Madison.

Steve Hickman, manager and salesman at Furniture & Things, is a huge help. He turned the garage into a gym for which you could literally sell memberships, spending about 20 grand on equipment including 26 sets of dumbells from 5 to 105 pounds, a Universal gym, Hoist hack squad/leg press, Hoist hamstring cur/leg extension, Hoist assisted pullup and dip machine, elite fitness collegiate power rack, Forza competition flat bench, Forza heavy-duty incline bench, and dead-lift platform and bar, over 2,500 pounds of weights total.

Steve also serves the crucial function of handler which includes time management, getting her into her weightlifting suit and rachet-style belt, handing weights to her, wrapping her knees, and organizing the equipment, all of which demand acquired skills. “He does a great job,” said Hemenway.

Hickman completes drug-free although she’s been in non-tested meets where some rivals are probably on steroids.

So, what do the teen daughters think of Mommy the powerlifter? Danielle says: “It’s cool. Boys want to know how much she can lift. Some of them are afraid of her!” Adds Courtney: “I like watching her … None of my friends have a mom who does that!”


Dawn Hickman

Personal file — Age: 43 … Family: husband Steve; teen daughters Nicole, Danielle and Courtney … Sport: Power Lifting (formerly Body Building) … Occupation: manager/waitress at Daddy O’s Cafe

Favorite stuff — TV show: “The Bachelor” … Movie: “Flashdance” … Reading: powerlifting and health magazines … Food: taco’s, pasta … Drink: sugar-free ice tea … Sport to watch: hockey … Kickback activities: in-line skating, biking … Place she’d like to visit: “Any place that’s hot!”


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