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Meet The TEAM


Yesol An

Communications Coordinator

Yesol is currently a Strength & Conditioning coach at New Trier High School, helping both athletes and open gym lifters to grow in their technique and form safely. Yesol competed in Powerlifting during her senior year of high school at New Trier and won first place in her weight class in every competition, including a regional meet, NASA Nationals, and the IHSPLA State Meet. As an alumni of the school, she enjoys being able to give back to the community that helped her gain the amazing experience of Powerlifting. Yesol is excited to be on a part of the IHSPLA team and to serve the high school Powerlifting community.


Brian Buglio

Board Member

Brian is a Physical Education teacher with 22 years of experience at Amos Alonzo Stag High School, in Palos Hills, Illinois. He possess a B.A. in Physical Education from Aurora University with an M.A. in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Francis.  "I have been fortunate to be involved with our strength and conditioning program at Stagg High School from the time I started my career and I have spent the last 12 years to the current day specifically teaching our strength and conditioning classes.  I have 22 years of coaching experience coaching various different sports and levels, coaching Football and Powerlifting for the majority of that time.  An integral part in developing our Powerlifting Club at Stagg High School that became an official club in 2011 and has been running strong since.  I have been involved with the IHSPLA since its inception and have held various roles in the association since that time.  I am currently the IHSPLA Meet Director for the IHSPLA South Suburban Regional Powerlifting Meet." 


Jim Davis

Board Member

Jim is a former professional football player and champion powerlifter turned nationally recognized coach, author, and speaker.

Jim is a graduate of Harvard University, Northwestern University and Knox College. In addition to his work as the Director of the Good Athlete Project, he is proud to be the Staff & Student Wellness Coordinator at New Trier High School. At New Trier, Jim leads one of the largest and most successful strength programs in the nation. He is also the Founding Director of the Illinois High School Powerlifting Association.

Jim has been honored as a 2020 Semper Fidelis All-American Mentor, 2018 NASA National Coach of the Year, the NASA National Coach of the Year Runner-Up in 2019.

While Jim’s research focuses on human development and psychology through sport, it is the human connection that keeps him coaching. “To be embodied, healthy, active, and working toward a shared purpose - there’s nothing else like it.”

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Romar Paul Harayo

Board Member

Paul has been a part of the powerlifting community for over 6 years. After competing in the IHSPLA when he was in high school, he would go on to compete in the USAPL and eventually transferred to the IPF where he would become the powerlifter and coach he is today. Throughout this time he has dedicated himself to helping others progress in their own training along with spreading the sport of powerlifting by becoming an online powerlifting coach, the head powerlifting coach of Maine West High School, and now as a member of the board of directors in the IHSPLA. 


Whether it be at the local, national, or international level, he has dedicated his efforts to sharing his joy of powerlifting by showing others the physical and mental benefits that powerlifting can offer to their lives. Paul recognizes the positive impact IHSPLA can have for students and is ready to apply his knowledge of powerlifting for the association’s continued growth.


Paul has a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a personal training certification from NASM, and over 6 years of experience in the sport.


Rijad Pekmez

Board Member

Rijad has been a member of the IHSPLA as well as a certified referee since 2017. "I attended NTHS where I was a powerlifter for four years and have now coached powerlifting at New Trier for 4 years. Throughout college I competed in three collegiate powerlifting meets and placed 1st in the Bench Press Division at Knox College."


Melissa Zimmer

Board Member

Melissa is a Physical Education teacher at Romeoville High School for 14 years and the RHS powerlifting coach for 9 years. "My powerlifting interest dates back to the 90s when I was lifting with Francis Ruettiger at Rudy’s Gym in Joliet! I had received my CSCS certification and applied all the principles I had learned to help create the work out that my students do today. Before working at Romeoville, I was at Stagg High School, where my husband and I helped to implement the powerlifting program there."


John Beerbower

Board Member

John currently serves as the Director of Strength & Conditioning for McHenry District 156, as well as the Assistant Divisional Chair for PE, Health, and Driver's Education.  McHenry was recently honored as a top physical education program in the state of Illinois.  The McHenry Strength program consists of 26 sections (approximately 815 student-athletes) enrolled during the school day, as well as multiple off-season sport specific training groups after school.  John is also an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School at Carthage College teaching Sport Leadership, Sport Psychology, and Summer Internships.  He is a regular presenter on topics related to physical education, technology, and leadership.   John has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Concordia University), Masters (Eastern Illinois University), and a Graduate Certificate (Moody Bible Institute).  He and his wife (Jeanna) have 4 children (Riley, Brett, Trace, Brady).  


Dan Carrier

Board Member

"I am honored to have been a part of the IHSPLA since its inception. I have served the association as a member of the board of directors, meet director, coach, judge, and volunteer. I am a full time Strength & Conditioning teacher and coach at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, lL. The excitement and growth of high school powerlifting in Illinois continues to create opportunities for lifters to experience a highly competitive environment governed by the principles of Character, Culture, Equity, and Service." 



Chris Dertz

Board Member

Chris is a teacher and the powerlifting coach at Eastland High School in Lanark, Illinois. During his 23-year career, he has taught Social Studies, Language Arts, PE, and Driver Education. He has been married to Bonnie, a science teacher, since 1996. They have 3 sons , Patrick, Eli, and Ethan. Chris is a veteran of the United States Army, having served in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas from 1997 to 1999. 



Greg "Coach Mo" Moisio

Board Member

"HS Powerlifting has been the most positive teaching and learning experience in my 34-year career."

Coach Mo was the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Waukegan High School for 20 years. After 34 years of teaching at Waukegan HS, he retired in May of 2023. 

Coach Mo graduated from Waukegan HS in 1983, the University of Illinois in 1988, and is also a CrossFit Original.


Jim Zimmer

Board Member

"I am very proud to be a part of the IHSPLA. I have been a teaching high school Strength and Conditioning and coaching Powerlifting in School District #230 for over 25 years. I am currently at Carl Sandburg HS in Orland Park."

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