When college students balance the weight of academics and sports at the same time, it’s not usually as literal as it is for Nathaniel Esker ‘24. Nate is a psychology major with a concentration in forensic psychology who also competes in strongman competitions. He has recently been invited to participate in the “World’s Strongest Under 23” contest set to take place in Scotland in 2023.
Strongman consists of a group of people competing in multiple events such as the deadlift, overhead press and carrying and loading objects to see who is the strongest. Nate is most known for his 405-pound overhead press and an 800-pound deadlift for two reps. He hopes one day to compete in an Arnold Classic qualifier or an Official Strongman Games, since those are two competitions that are important in getting to the professional level with competitors of any age. There are not currently any major competitions for Nate’s age group, but he is chasing down any opportunity that he can.
“It is an individual sport so everything is up to me and I do not have to rely on anyone else,” Nate explained why strongman appeals to him. “All the competitors are very supportive of each other and want each other to be at their best. I can also see the progress that I am making in the form of more weight on the bar, more reps with the same weight or a faster time in an event.”
Once Nate realized he enjoyed strength training he started to go to more professional gyms to learn and meet people who had been training and competing at a higher level for years. One of the members he trained with mentioned Nate should try a strongman competition. After researching and training, he placed second in that first competition recommended by his gym friend, which gave him the motivation to keep going and introduced him to a supportive community. Ultimately, he plans to make a career out of strongman through competitions, sponsorships and the fitness business he is creating. In the meantime, he hopes to go into criminal justice or the firefighter service.
“I actually first visited Lake Erie College for baseball,” Nate said. “I wanted to stay closer to home and liked the smaller community. When I was accepted and received a scholarship, I knew it would be a good fit.”
In his psychology courses, he has enjoyed learning about what affects someone's behavior and how psychology can influence a person physically. Nate finds it interesting not just from a criminal justice perspective but also how psychology has an influence on performance and health. Since he has such an interest in strength training and writes custom workout programs through , the topic is very relevant to his career. With his schoolwork and strength training, Nate has his life well-balanced between physical and educational goals.
“It took a lot of work and effort,” Nate said. “But now competing in the World's Strongest Man under 23 and getting to this point in education makes me confident in my future which I am happy and excited about.”