Alexis LiCalsi may have to explain to friends who is paying for her college education. That's because LiCalsi is going to college on a weightlifting scholarship. The 17-year-old River Ridge High graduate will be attending East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn. It's a complete athletic scholarship, although weightlifting is not an NCAA intercollegiate sport. "It's a sports club with the school," LiCalsi said. "It's a full scholarship. It's a good opportunity. I really like it there."
Plus, there are other benefits provided by East Tennessee. "They are an Olympic training site,'' River Ridge girls weightlifting coach Mike DeGennaro said. "They are a club and go to other competitions. They compete nationally. They try to make international teams. The goal is to make the Olympic teams. "We worked hard for it. I'm real excited for her. She has worked real hard and deserves it." LiCalsi won the 139-pound state title this year and has two national titles. In May, LiCalsi took 15th in the junior world at a meet at Lima, Peru, and she finished eighth in the Youth World Meet back in September in Slovakia. LiCalsi, however, struggled with her shoulder. Despite that, she set a record of 205 pounds in the clean and jerk and was second at states in 2012. LiCalsi said she also helped out with the Team Pasco Weightlifting Camp held at New Port Richey Redeemer Church. And, LiCalsi added, she plans to major in physical therapy. "(DeGennaro) helped a lot," she said. "They wanted someone who would be dedicated for the four years. It is an Olympic training site. I went to one in Colorado Springs. We work out. Our goal is to get stronger. Weightlifting is an Olympic sport so that's what your goal is. "I am thankful for having a great coach in Mike DeGennaro and a wonderful mother in Kathy Neeks."