Freshman Maya Moise talks passion for lifting
Maya Moise’s path to becoming one of the top weightlifters in the state of Texas began four years ago, with a piece of missing cartilage. Moise started playing basketball at six years old and continued until early high school before her basketball career was cut short by an injured knee. The missing cartilage prompted a yearlong period of rest that culminated in Moise discovering a love for weightlifting.
“I started finding myself in the weight room more than on the court,” Moise said. “I realized that lifting was kind of my strength. It was more of my passion, more than playing basketball.”
After creating her own training programs and easing herself into weightlifting during the pandemic, Moise quickly found success in the gym.
“Once things started to open up, I started going to a CrossFit gym and learning Olympic weightlifting,” Moise said. “My first year, [in] my junior year, I had my first meet and that got me ranked 10th best in the United States for the youth category for [ages] 16 to 17. And then my senior year, I just kept on competing, and I moved up to being the fifth best in the nation [at the time].”
Having amassed multiple awards in a relatively short time frame, Moise says that dedication is key to keeping up momentum, especially with sports like weightlifting that demand rigorous consistency.
“Nothing comes by [easily] … especially when it comes to athleticism and stuff that takes a lot of repetition,” Moise said. “Weightlifting is very tedious, and you’re never going to have a perfect lift … If I really want to train, and I really want to be the best that I can be, then I have to make the time because how am I supposed to be a leader for other people or show people what they can do if I’m letting excuses get in the way?”
This tedium is actually one of the reasons Moise fell in love with weightlifting, she said. She appreciates that the sport is as mental as it is physical, which poses a new set of challenges with every lift.
“I think one thing that people don’t realize about lifting is that it’s about 70% technique and muscle and 30% mental … It’s only you and the barbell, there’s nothing else stopping you,” Moise said. “I like being able to put myself under the pressure of just knowing what you can really do and getting a sense of your own strength. With weightlifting, you’re really testing yourself. You’re only as good as you let yourself be.”
According to Moise, some college athletes ultimately face the question of going professional or quitting — with weightlifting, this isn’t strictly the case. Moise, who would like to pursue a career in sports medicine or management, appreciates that she doesn’t need to sacrifice either of her passions.
“I can go to practice after class … My head coach is a surgical oncologist. I think that’s something that’s so cool, because you don’t see that in any other sport,” Moise said. “You have people who are full-on professionals or other college student athletes, or they just do it once every five months for fun [or] for recreation. Weightlifting, we can actually be serious while having a full career.”
Since matriculating, Moise said she has both found and created weightlifting networks within Rice. She joined Kim Barbell, a local weightlifting gym and team with a handful of Rice alumni, and co-founded the Rice Olympic Weightlifting Club. Ultimately, Moise hopes to continue opening doors between the Rice and weightlifting communities.
“I feel like people have a weird stereotype about Rice kids: you’re either a student athlete, or you’re really smart. And that’s not how it is. I go to the Rec, and I see all these amazing smart kids lifting weights,” Moise said. “Like, you need to be competing with me. It’s good to see the culture that Rice has built, that we don’t really have to have any limits to what we can do.”
Looking toward the future, Moise said she plans on training for a year before moving onto nationals. Moise said she hopes her accomplishments inspire others to discover their own strength.
“We all have a special strength deep inside of us,” Moise said. “But unless we know how to actually use it to benefit us, we’re missing out on a whole part of ourselves.”
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