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Faces of Baylor: Jackson Powell
Janie Pippenger

Baylor junior Jackson Powell is the strongest teenager in the world. But the title does not define Powell and if you just met him in a class you wouldn’t even know it at first.

Personally I would make stickers and advertise it at any chance possible, but Powell is a humble hard worker, and that is what has gotten him to the point he is at today. Before we jump into a list of Powell's official titles and achievements, which a Google search can help you find, I wanted to say that this is the first story I have written about a close friend.

I have known Powell since we first started sixth grade and I've watched him grow into the powerlifter he is today. But aside from being very strong, he is also a staple member at Baylor. He is one of the kindest and most compassionate person any student can think could know. He has won over the student with his homespun colloquial conversational style and funny remarks. When babysitting I often show kids videos of him lifting three times the combined weight of all of us and feel proud to be a part of the community that we all belong to. But I am getting ahead of myself - let’s start from the beginning: sixth grade. 

Powell was first exposed to the idea of Baylor through the football coaches who had seen his potential and urged him to look at Baylor. HIs mother was sold on the school and the next year he began the thirty minute commute from Chickamauga, Ga. to Baylor every morning. While the transition from one school to another was tough, Powell continued to work hard and one year later his little sister, Leslie, joined him in the grade below. Unlike Jackson, Leslie does not feel inclined to pick up heavy things all day but instead loves art and painting. Jackson has also found himself side by side with her managing the football team during the past two seasons. Due to a back injury his sophomore year and complications during the summer his junior year, Jackson has stepped back from football and instead manages the team and helps film. Jackson said,“Football opened a lot of doors for me, but my heart is not in it. There are other people out there that want to play and deserve to”. 

Although he stepped back from football, Powell had already found his new love - powerlifting. He first started lifting for football in seventh grade and by freshmen year he was falling in love with the sport of powerlifting. In fact, April 16 was his four-year anniversary of his start in the sport and the posting of his first video on Instagram (@bigjpowell53). He likes to look back on the video to see how far he has come in four years. Powell and I were actually in the weight room at the same time in eighth grade. He would be lifting and would stop every thirty minutes to help me get the safety clips off of my bar. Now he’s the strongest teenager in the world, and I can get the safety clips off by myself, (not that I’m trying to compare our success but like the safety clips are tricky). 

When asked where his strength comes from Powell replies, “It is proven that my great grandfather was super strong, and all the way back both sides of my family have been strong. While it skipped my parent’s generation, all the strength jumped straight into me. I am the first person to put the strength into weights, my family used it for cotton farming as a necessity for their way of life. But I couldn’t ask for a better gift”.

Powell has crushed the majority of the records for powerlifting and right now stands as the world's best 17-and-under lifter in squats and total (squat, dead lift, and bench). He turns 18 in August and will attempt to break the same record in the 19-and-under category. The current record holder told Powell that if he was going to break his record, which is currently 2110.9 pounds, that he should try to be the first to go for 2200 pounds. He wants to keep going until he can’t anymore and then find a way ti give back to his sport. “I never thought I’d make it this far, and looking back at it—it all worked out,” he says.

Powell doesn’t need Baylor to be the person he is today, but through the relationships he has formed here, Baylor has helped shape him into the one we all know. Through this whole journey he has formed relationships that will last forever, and sites his bond with strength and conditioning coach Dave Reynolds as an example.”Big Dave and I adopted each other. A really good thing to find another family figure”. As Powell grows stronger, his influence and impact grows with him. Baylor has helped Powell, but furthermore, he has helped shape Baylor. 

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