Jodi Grills ‘Iron Sisters Strong’ Award

Exemplifying Courage, Commitment and Community
within and beyond the Strength and Powerlifting World

What is the Iron Sisters Strong Award and Why Does it Exist?

Where we come from is as important to our story, as where we are today, and it’s as important as where we are going. 

Some of us might not get the opportunity to finish our stories. 

Or, perhaps that is not really true.

To help you understand, let me share a bit about a woman I met on two occasions. In fact, Jodi Grills was sitting in a spot, not unlike you, today. She took part in Iron Sisters USA’s inaugural camp in January 2017.

Jodi Grills attended Iron Sisters USA’s inaugural camp in January of 2017 in Fremont, Nebraska. She drove 16 hours with a cast on her one leg to attend and participate as much as she could. Although we didn’t spend much time together, I know she impacted each of our participants and coaches that weekend.

Jodi Grills competing at a meet in Saskatchewan, Canada
Jodi Grills at the Inaugural 2017 Iron Sisters USA Training Camp

I caught up with Jodi about a month later at the Arnold Sports Festival as we both happened to be watching some of the powerlifting events. I listened to her enthusiastically talk about her experience at Iron Sisters. She asked me about sponsoring an upcoming event and we agreed that I’d send her some information to make that happen. She told me that she was just a few weeks out from a scheduled open heart surgery procedure.

I sent her some information and waited. And when I followed up a few weeks later, and still had no response, I saw a short post on her facebook page informing folks that Jodi didn’t make make it through her surgery.

A day or so after I heard of her passing, I wrote this:

Power.

Choices.

Courage.

Legacy.

Sometimes the people we need to learn from are standing right in front of us.

We might think that it’s too late for us.

We might lack the fore-site or the vision to slow down.

To sit.

To listen.

To understand.

To change.

To believe that we can become better.

I’m sharing this today because I believe that it’s not too late for any of us to become better.

Last week, Iron Sister Jodi Grills took her last breath.

I don’t profess to know Jodi well. In fact, we only met twice.

The first time was at Iron Sisters Training Camp in Fremont, NE (where she told us she had driven 16 hours from Saskatchewan to attend).

When we re-connected 6 weeks later at the Arnolds, she approached me to ask if she might be able to sponsor Iron Sisters Strength Camp 4.0. And then she casually mentioned that she was undergoing Aortic Valve replacement surgery a few weeks later. 

Jodi never recovered from this critical surgery. 

Her life came to an end too soon. 

In this last week since hearing about her death I’ve been moved to examine my life.

Power.

What am I doing, today, to put all of my strengths into action?

Choices.

Who am I surrounding myself with, and what am I actively choosing to do, each and every day to be better?

Courage.

What are my fears, and what will I do to overcome the challenges before me?

Legacy.

What am I doing to make the world and those around me better?

We have the POWER, to CHOOSE to be COURAGEOUS and to leave a LEGACY beyond what we could imagine might be possible.

I believe this.

And, I know that Jodi was committed to this, even up to the days leading to her surgery. 

And, if she were here today, she would certainly continue to be a role model for many in this regard.

She’d be log pressing, deadlifting, pulling, and pushing.

Giving.

Being.

Becoming.

Better.

What will YOU do today, to ensure that you too are becoming a better version of yourself?

Perhaps you have to learn something from someone in order to make this happen?

Look around. 

They just might be standing right in front of you – just like Jodi was in the picture shared here.

It’s not too late. 

Thank you my fellow Iron Sister Jodi Grills.

Thank you.

And then, a year later I was moved to create the Jodi Grills Iron Sisters Strong Award, in her honour.

 Here are our recipients who’ve exemplified  courage, commitment and community within and beyond the strength and powerlifting world.

2019 Recipient

Krista Schaus

This particular woman called me about 11.5 years ago asking if we could meet because she wanted to pursue this thing called bodybuilding.

Ironically, she was a powerlifter and had paralleled my bodybuilding career for nearly as long (for me that was 1994-2008 and for her it was 1999-2008).

She and I decided to work together on her bodybuilding project – where she made quick work of that goal and then decided that she wanted to qualify for Nationals and step onstage with me, her coach. We made it all the way to the Overall Finals, together!

Two years later she contacted me and asked me to come and train with her and her powerlifting team … holding me to a goal of competing on the powerlifting platform (the rest of course is now history).

But let me dig a little deeper and tell you a little more about her:

As a person, within her life she has played many roles: sister daughter wife/partner, mother. As a professional she’s been a police officer, professor, coach and mentor. An an athlete she’s been a powerlifter, bodybuilder, general fitness enthusiast.

She experienced a rare stroke in 2014, and then about a year later was diagnosed with an even rarer cancer. She fought both of those things, and the impacts of that on her life for more than 5 years. In 2016, I invited her to Strength Camp as she was recovered enough to begin to share about some of her lessons. You can watch her presentation here below.

And all of these things like they can for us, can define her.

However, she has grown through her experience of life to not just be defined by who she is or what she does or has done. But moresoe she has chosen to focus on the refining, not the defining.

Even her original fitness business was known as Defining Edge. Today, I wonder if she’d chose the name, Refining Edge?

Krista Schaus.  She reverses preconceptions, subverts stereotypes, and stretches our sense of what’s possible — simply by being herself.

It has really been more than just fitness, or powerlifting or bodybuilding for this woman.

It is about the cascade of events that SHE set in motion : being committed to evolution of herself as an athlete, coach and mentor…, and consequently impacting hundreds if not thousand of women, including myself.

And I believe that she is not done yet. 

I’m proud, and honoured to call this woman friend, and mentor. And today I’m so pleased to award the second annual recipient of the Jodi Grills #IronSistersStrong Award to Krista Schaus.

FB link to Krista Schaus’ award gallery: https://www.facebook.com/pg/IronSisters/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2415312432077619 

2018 Recipient

Linda McFeeters

This woman sent me an email out of the blue 10 years ago, asking if we could meet because she had decided she wanted to make changes to her body and her health and her lifestyle , even go so far as compete on the bodybuilding stage before she turned 50.

She made quick work of that goal and then decided that she wanted to do a powerlifting competition after stepping hugely out of her comfort zone and watching me compete in my first meet.

And if that wasn’t enough, she said that she and I could then actually form a sanctioned powerlifting team – Team DVP… where we would then go on to compete at our first provincials and then travel to the other side of the country for nationals.

She pushed herself to pass her referee testing, began volunteering at meets and then pushed our growing team into hosting our first meet (where we had the first ever full female platform crew), then our first provincial championship and then our second and before you knew it we were hosting two international powerlifting meets in less than 5 months.

But it’s not just about bodybuilding or powerlifting or reffing or meet directing.

It is about the cascade of events that SHE set in motion : She got off the couch one day and decided to change the course of her health and her life, and consequently those selfish (and self caring) actions created a wave of selfless acts that have since impacted hundreds of women, including myself.

And I believe that she is not done yet. 

I’m proud, and honoured to call this woman friend, and mentor. And today I’m so pleased to award the inaugural recipient of the Jodi Grills #IronSistersStrong Award to Linda McFeeters.

FB link to Linda McFeeters award gallery https://www.facebook.com/pg/IronSisters/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2156060161336182