Bench press contest to benefit Care House
by Emily Adams
Officer Mike Davenport, seated, and Sgt. Matt Emlich, standing, are organizing the “First Responders Bench Press Competition” set for April 20 at J. Craig Smith Center. Two divisions, one open to the public and the other for police and firemen, will compete with all proceeds benefiting the Care House.
TALLADEGA COUNTY – Two Sylacauga policemen are turning a favorite pastime into an opportunity to give back.

Officer Mike Davenport and Sgt. Matt Emlich are organizing the first “Greater Talladega County First Responders Bench Press Competition,” set for April 20 at J. Craig Smith Community Center in Sylacauga. Two divisions, one open to the public and the other for police and firemen, will compete with all proceeds benefiting the Sylacauga Care House food pantry.

“Most people have probably never seen this type of competition before, so it should be a fun time and a good family-oriented event,” Davenport said. “Along with providing some additional funding for the Care House, we also hope it will encourage more police and firemen to exercise.”

The fee to compete is a $20 donation prior to the event or $30 the day of the competition. Women will compete in one weight class, while the men’s divisions are as follows: 0-181, 181.1-198, 198.1-220, 220.1-242, 242 and up.

Participants will weigh in beginning at 4 p.m. the day of the event, although times are slightly flexible for those who have conflicting schedules. Lifting will begin at 5 p.m., and each person will get three attempts.

Lifters will come to the bench, which will be pre-loaded with their desired weight, and lower the bar to their chest. The head judge will give a command to press, and the lifter should press the bar straight up with arms locked until they are given a command to release the weight. The top three participants in each weight class will receive a trophy.

Davenport said the idea for the contest, which already has about 12 participants, grew out of conversations with co-workers and quickly turned into something bigger.

“A lot of guys from the police department started lifting, and one day it came up that we ought to have a contest, just for some friendly competition,” he said. “We decided if we were really going to do this, we should make it an event where somebody can benefit from it.”

With that goal in mind, Care House was selected as this year’s beneficiary. Emlich said it was the first and only organization they considered.

“The Care House does a lot on a small budget, and they’re always in need of funding,” Emlich said. “Knowing that the competition is for charity will hopefully help people be more willing to participate and get past their fear of losing.”

If the contest is successful, Davenport said they plan to make it an annual event benefiting a different local charity each year. In the future, they may add extra divisions for teenagers and maybe even children, he said.

For those who want to participate but are not interested in lifting, Emlich and Davenport are collecting donations for Care House through April 5. They have also solicited gift certificates from a number of local businesses that will be raffled during the competition.

“We have gotten a lot of interest, and the support from the business community in Sylacauga has been outstanding,” Davenport said. “The competition started off as something very small and has grown every day. It has been really well-received, and we’re looking forward to building it every year and maybe having upwards of 40 to 50 lifters in the future.”

For more information, contact Davenport at 256-454-1821.

Contact Emily Adams at

© 2013