New Athletic Trainer ‘Strongly’ Embraces Williston Community


Credit: Rob Kearney

I never thought I would see the day where six plates were squeezed onto a bar in the Williston Northampton School weight room. Equivalent to 585lbs, I later learned that this was an easy day for Williston’s new Head Athletic Trainer Rob Kearney, and the only reason he could not do more is because the cast iron bar would snap from being under too much stress.

This isn’t an unusual situation for Kearney, who recently finished 13th in the World’s Strongest Man competition this past summer in Botswana.

However, the 13th place finish, which also distinguishes Kearney as the fourth Strongest Man in the United States, was just a “learning experience,” he said, and he plans on being more competitive in the next World’s Strongest Man competition in the summer of 2018.

The Willistonian sat down with Kearney and learned the history of his weightlifting career, along with what has drawn this Professional Athlete to Williston.

Kearney’s journey began at Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Connecticut. He first stepped into a weight room as a sophomore, hoping to improve as a football player. By his senior year he had began lifting more seriously and entered his first Strong Man competition that year at the age of 17.

With the next youngest competitor around 30, Kearney stated, “I got my butt kicked, but it was great.”

Kearney was instantly hooked with the Strong Man competition and continued his career at Springfield College, where he quickly joined the school’s power lifting team. Through his time at Springfield College, Kearney became a Massachusetts State Champion in power lifting, while also receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Athletic Training.

After graduating Springfield College, Kearney quickly located Lightning Fitness in South Windsor, Connecticut that focused on Strong Man competitions. With the help of his new gym, Kearney became a Professional Strong Man competitor in 2013.

Since Kearney’s professional debut, he has quickly distinguished himself as one of the Strongest Men in the World. Along with his current placement as the 13th Strongest Man in the World, Kearney holds two World Records in the Log Clean and Press, an event where competitors lift a heavy steel log above their head. Kearney’s records were recorded at 410lbs and 455lbs, which is around double his body weight.

Aside from all the heavy lifting, Kearney also appreciates how fortunate he is to be a professional athlete, which has been a dream of his since his childhood.

He stated, “I get to travel around the World with my fiancé (Joey Aleixo) for pretty much free and we get to see all these cool places and I get to do what I love and make a little bit of extra money while doing it.” In one word, Kearney describes his experience as “amazing.”

So, what brings one of the World’s Strongest Men to Williston? Well, if you have met Mr. Kearney, I am sure you quickly noticed his passion for being an Athletic Trainer and his absolute desire to help student athletes rehab and get back onto the playing fields as quickly as possible.

Kearney admits that he loves Strength and Condition but he says, “Athletic Training is really what I want to do as my career and Williston provided me with that opportunity.”

Kearney plans to be in the athletic offices for most of the day, this way he is constantly available for Williston students. He also looks forward to being able to walk student athletes through the whole recovery process and then watch them get back on the field in good health.

“This is the most rewarding part of my job,” he said.

Williston students and faculty can expect to see more of Mr. Kearney outside of the Athletic Center as well. He plans to be very involved in the community and would really like to get the full Williston experience.

He already hopes to be a part of the music groups on campus, as he knows how to sing and play guitar. In fact, he was part of an a capella group in college. Along with music, Kearney would also like to be a part of the PRIDE movement and would love to be part of the support system for students.

Erin Davey, Director of Activities and Diversity and Inclusion, holds Kearney in the highest regard, and is eager to see the impact he makes on campus.

“He is a unique and refreshing slice of authenticity that any community would be lucky to have,” Davey said.

She added, “It would be impossible to put Mr. Kearney in a box of any kind, because he’ll bust right out of it, break the barriers, and push others to see beyond ‘the standard.’ I am so happy he chose Williston.”