USA Weightlifting Expands High Performance Division With New Team Members

by USA Weightlifting

U.S. athletes at training camp (Photo by USA Weightlifting)
U.S. athletes train at a high performance camp in January 2022 in Columbus, Ohio.


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Weightlifting announced today the expansion of its high performance division, hiring part-time employee A.O. Westley as national team logistics coordinator and contractors Jackie Black and Seán Rigsby as national sport support coaches, all of whom will further the national governing body’s mission to support U.S. athletes in achieving excellence in Olympic and world competition.

The additions come on the heels of USA Weightlifting’s most successful Olympic performance in 21 years and longest medal streak at the senior world championships in 27 years.

Joining the powerhouse trio of Mike Gattone (senior director of sport performance & coaching education), Lorene Halford (promoted to national teams director) and four-time Olympic medalist Pyrros Dimas (technical director), Westley will report into Halford while Black and Rigsby work with Gattone.

“I am thrilled to welcome these talented individuals to our already exemplary staff,” USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews said. “We identified the need for these specific roles after evaluating our high performance services and welcoming athlete and personal coach feedback on where we could build, and were fortunate to find such great fits who join USAW with an extensive knowledge of the sport and its athletes’ needs, and allow us to better serve our national team athletes and their personal coaches.”

As national team logistics coordinator, Westley will aid in preparing Team USA athletes for all that comes with international travel and competition, including compliance requirements (U.S. Center for SafeSport, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, organizing committees, etc.), flight manifests, team outfitting, rankings and more. He returns to USA Weightlifting after serving the organization as a recruitment and outreach intern in 2019, when he also began competing in the sport. Since earning his bachelor’s degree in exercise science with an emphasis on coaching and education from the University of South Carolina in 2018, Westley has also worked for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and U.S. Figure Skating. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and will be based out of the national office.

National sport support coaches Black and Rigsby, working remote, will enhance communication with and the growth of America’s youth, junior and pipeline weightlifters both year-round and on the ground at their Pan American and world championships. Black’s primary focus will be youth-level athletes (ages 13-17) with Rigsby concentrating mostly on juniors (ages 15-20).

A 2021 USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame inductee, Black excelled at three sports during her lengthy athletic career: gymnastics, wrestling and weightlifting. Then Jackie Berube, she was a four-time high school state (Michigan) champion gymnast and competed at the collegiate level for University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before transitioning to wrestling, competing on La Crosse’s varsity men’s team for a year. She made the U.S. women’s national team and qualified for the 1996 World Championships, where she earned silver at 57kg and became one of the first 10 U.S. women’s wrestlers to medal at worlds. Two years later she shifted her focus to weightlifting, for which she made multiple world championship teams, set American records, won the 2005 Pan American Championships, placed sixth at the 2007 Pan American Games and was named an alternate to the U.S. Olympic team in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Black continued competing as a master’s lifter, winning both the Pan American and world titles in 2019.

Outside of her impressive career on the mat and platform, Black holds bachelor’s degrees in exercise science and health education plus a master’s in exercise physiology, is a nationally registered emergency medical technician, served for 10 years on USA Wrestling’s board of directors, is an NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and USA Weightlifting International Level Coach, plus owns and coaches at Pinnacle Weightlifting and Sports Performance in Colorado Springs.

Rigsby’s competitive and coaching experience, meanwhile, has an international flair to it. In addition to competing at multiple USA Weightlifting national championships and American Open Series meets as a member of multiple-time senior national championship team MuscleDriver USA, Rigsby is an Irish citizen and represents the Republic of Ireland abroad. The four-time Irish national champion has competed at four IWF events for Ireland, including the 2018 European Championships and 2019 World Championships.

A USA Weightlifting National Coach and National Referee and U.S. team leader at the 2021 Pan American Championships, Rigsby is also the director of sport performance for the Jamaica Weightlifting Federation and is responsible for growing that team internationally. Domestically, he is the director of coaching at Heavy Metal Barbell Club and Charlotte Strength in North Carolina, plus assistant coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University. An avid fan of Shakespeare and mid-20th century literature, Rigsby holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Arizona State University.

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