Like most high school seniors around the country, Waskom’s Audreya Thomas had her final semester cut short.

While attending Waskom High School, Thomas competed in powerlifting.

“My freshman year, I was the only girl in my school that did powerlifting for a while. She had set a record for the highest deadlift,” Thomas said. “I think it was 290 or 280, I can’t remember but I remember topping it.”

Thomas recalls what got her interested in the sport. “Really the fact that I wanted to be active and I wanted to do something that wasn’t going to kill me and take me away from school too much but I also wanted to do something that let me be active in my free time.

“My first ever practice, I literally lifted it up and dropped it on my foot,” she continued. “My coach said, ‘OK, that’s your first injury. Are you in or out?’ I had to think about it but I said I was in because I wanted to prove to myself that even though I had pain, I could still fight through and make a comeback.”

The Waskom senior said she’d encourage other girls to compete in powerlifting.

“The best encouragement I could give would be, ‘Don’t give up,’” she said. “I know it’s kind of cheesy but when you get these roadblocks and think, ‘I can’t do it,’ yes you can, your body’s just not used to it. Mentally and physically, you’ve get to get your body to where it is ready by conditioning. It’s really hard at first but once you get into the rhythm of it, it gets more enjoyable.”

Had Thomas’ powerlifting career not been cut short prior to COVID-19 due to surgery, she said she’d likely have taken a shot at competing at the professional level. Instead, she plans to attend culinary school in Austin.

“If I’m not going to be cooking for the president, I’ll probably run my own bakery,” she said. “I’ve loved cooking ever since I was a little kid. I’ve cooked for my grandma, my mom and my dad. If you do something you like and actually enjoy, you’re not going to see it as work. You’re going to see it as a job. You’re going to see it as your daily hobby that you get paid for and that’s how I’m trying to see it.”