Dana Mauriello, Powerlifting Coach
By Paul Glatzer
Dana is from Ridgewood, NJ. She went to Stanford University in California for college, where she studied engineering. During college, she began competitive powerlifting for the USAPL and ascended to the national level, where she scored a high of 2nd place in the female/junior/165lb division. After college, she moved to New York and worked in the cosmetics industry doing marketing and product development for both L'Oreal and The Estee Lauder Companies. In New York, she continued powerlifting and started a Special Olympics Powerlifting team in Manhattan, which she coached for 3 years. Dana is now back in California in her first year at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Paul: How did you get selected to be a coach?
Dana: I've been a powerlifter myself for many years. My dad was a powerlifter and I've been a powerlifter, and the sport has always meant a lot to me. It made me more confident in myself and I got stronger physically and emotionally. It was something I wanted to share with other people because it meant so much to me. The way I thought I could share it with people is that I found that Special Olympics offered powerlifting, but we didn't have it in Manhattan. So I got in touch with the New York Special Olympics headquarters and said I wanted to start a team in Manhattan. They said, Go ahead, so I started it from scratch. I used my gym where I lift and gathered the team there, and found volunteers from my lifting partners, and it took off.
Paul: Do you have a job?
Dana: I did have a job. Right now Im in school, but for the last three years before that I was working in the cosmetics industry, coming up with new ideas for cosmetics-- lipsticks and face lotions and things like that. I was coming up with concepts for L'Oreal and Estee Lauder. Then I moved to California in September and Im going to school here to get my MBA, which is a business degree.
Paul: Thats good. Do you have hobbies?
Dana: Powerlifting is one of my favorite hobbies. It's what I love to do, and I also love cosmetics and fashion. I love being in New York and taking long walks around New York and going to all of the museums. The Met is my favorite museum.
Paul: What are your main goals?
Dana: My goal in powerlifting as an athlete is that I want to be on the US national team, so that means I have to be first in the country, which I'm trying very hard to do. But it takes a lot of time and effort that I don't know I have at this point in my life, so I know thats going to be a goal I will always work toward and maybe I will reach it later. My goal as a Special Olympics coach is to help the athletes on my team to be more confident in themselves through powerlifting, because if you know you can lift a lot of weight, then you know you are an overall strong and amazing person in other aspects of your life as well. My goal professionally and personally is that I want to start my own business after I graduate school in two years, and I want that to be around cosmetics.
Paul: What kind of advice do you give to your team?
Dana: One piece of advice I always tell my athletes is to be confident that they can lift the weight, because if they think they can lift the weight in their minds, they will be able to do it. You have to visualize and picture yourself being able to lift it and then you will. Also, I tell people you have to be very patient; if you cant lift the weight today, if you train very hard, you will be able to lift soon. Its not necessarily that if you cant lift it today, you'll never be able to do it. It takes a lot of hard work.
I also try to tell them it's a really fun sport and everybody should have a lot of fun and not take things too seriously because were all here to have a great time and do this awesome sport. So getting down about yourself for not getting a lift or losing out to someone else shouldn't be the focus. The focus should be about getting stronger personally and having a fun time doing it.
Paul: What do you do when you're not coaching?
Dana: Right now I'm in school a lot, so I go to school every day from 8 a.m. to 6. I do a lot of schoolwork, and because it's a new school, I have 400 new friends to meet, which is very exciting. I spend a lot of time just getting to know everybody, trying to meet as many people as possible and learn from their different experiences. That has been keeping me very busy for the last month that I've been here.
Paul: What is your birthday?
Dana: Oct 23, 1982, so I just turned 25.
Paul: What to you do in practices with your team?
Dana: When we practice on Sunday mornings at the Y, we meet up and we warm up first. Then we go through each of the three: my team squats as well as the dead lift and bench press, too. We try to do one-on-one: one coach for each athlete, so each athlete and coach pair can go off and do their lifting. The coaches themselves sometimes lift as well. It's encouraging to know that were all in this together. It's not just a Special Olympics sport-- its a sport that everybody participates in, all different ability levels and age levels and everything else. It's a very equalizing kind of sport, so we try to lift together as much as possible. When someone is going for a big lift, everyone sort of gathers around and watches that lift and encourages them to get it.
Paul: Do you have kids or parents?
Dana: I don't have kids, but I have parents who live in New Jersey. They also volunteer for Special Olympics and help out with the weight lifting.
Paul: When you're not in school, what do you do?
Dana: I spend my time when I'm not in classes in the gym. I work out and try to make myself stronger, and I love that. I like to go shopping. I like to meet new people in my class. It's almost a full-time job to try to know 400 people. We go to different restaurants in the city where I live, which is called Palo Alto. We go out to movies around here, to museums, and I try to know as many new people as possible that way.