GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport High School's powerlifting team is the new 6A state champion, taking the title from nearby D'iberville High School. Their physical strength led them to a state championship, but the recent death of their football coach's wife is what pushed them to victory.
Gulfport's team is made up of nine guys who not only lift together but also play football together.
Their powerlifting season started off rocky, but just when it looked like it would end on a high note, they lost Sherry Pierce. Pierce is the wife of their head football coach. She had been battling breast cancer for years, and her battle ended just days before they headed off to compete in the state competition.
"Ms. Pierce, you know she taught me how to work hard, because everyday she would fight that battle and she would fight it hard, you know. She never gave up and that taught me never to give up. So, I did this for her. We did this for her," said Dennis Stevenson.
The guys made shirts that said "I lift for Sherry". They wore them during the competition, and with every pound they lifted, they remembered who they were lifting for.
"We knew how much she loved us and just her passing, it kind of just pushed us, gave us something else to go forward," said Nicholas Dunomes.
Only one of the nine teammates won't be returning next year, which is why they're already predicting a back-to-back state championship.