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 SRU Alumnus, National Fitness Leader Garry W. Benford Donates Scholarship, Weight Center Funds 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:


          SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – When Garry W. Benford, a nationally respected physical fitness leader, enrolled at Slippery Rock University 30 years ago, he turned part of his attention to barbell lifting – a passion he credits with boosting his academics and self-esteem. His continuing passion is now providing Rock athletics with a weight-training center, and physical education majors with an annual $1,000 academic scholarship.

          Benford, a member of the Powerlifting Hall of Fame, is owner of nine World Gym Fitness and Nutrition Centers in Columbus, Ohio. He was honored recently on campus for donating funds to support the scholarship and the weight room in Morrow Field House, which have been named in his honor.

          He told those assembled that SRU introduced him to powerlifting. “That simple experience changed my life. I was never gifted athletically or academically. Weight training changed all that. It provided me measurable results. It made me goal oriented, developed my organizational skills and helped improve my self-esteem. It burned with a passion inside of me the characteristics of persistence and determination; to never give up; to continue to work hard; and to handle the obstacles in front of me. It turned my passion into academic, athletic and professional business achievement.”

          “Garry Benford serves as an outstanding example to all Slippery Rock University students – and all Slippery Rock University graduates,” said SRU Interim President Robert Smith. “He came to Slippery Rock University unsure of his major; found one that fit his life; then devoted his life to service and leadership in that field. The university is proud of his success, and we are grateful for his generous support. Our athletes will certainly make great use of the fine facility, and our health and physical education majors will welcome the scholarship. We thank him for his continued support of his alma mater and for his untiring efforts in promoting the university to potential students.”

          The Garry W. Benford Weight Room is open to all Rock athletes, and the Garry W. Benford Scholarship is open to all SRU physical education majors. The facility includes 3,500 pounds of free weights and related benches, along with other exercise equipment. Benford, a Beaver County native, earned his bachelor of science in health and physical education degree, cum laude, in 1977, followed by his master’s in exercise science and sports medicine, summa cum laude, in 1979. His thesis detailed work related to analysis of the squat and deadlift powerlift and was presented before the 1979 National Collegiate Class Powerlifters. He was also active as president of the SRU Weightlifting Club and later served as an athletic conditioning supervisor at SRU. He was also an instructor for “Human Performance and Strength Development.”  

          Former owner of “American Fitness Quarterly,” he is the author of “Powerlifting: A Guide for Coaches and Athletes.” He received his certification as a strength and conditioning specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and was certified as a personal fitness trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Benford has won six National Masters Powerlifting championships (1995 to 2000), and was the National Masters Bench Press champion in 2001 and 2002. He is also a World Masters 198 Pound Powerlifting champion.         

SRU offers a number of study areas in physical education, including a bachelor of education in health and physical education degree as part of its teacher certification program. The program is one of the most prominent in the nation in preparing health and physical educations for the kindergarten through high school level. Course work also qualifies graduates to work in the coaching profession. Programs in physical education and sport management are also offered. More than 560 students currently major in these programs.


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