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Throwing Heavy Things: Church Member Mom Makes Her Mark In The Scottish Highland Games

Typical of many other Latter-day Saint women, Michelle Galloway Lowe, of Pleasant 1st Ward, Chandler Arizona West Stake, bakes bread and loves quilting.

But from there, she has broken the mold somewhat, and, unlike the stereotypical Relief Society sister, Michelle competes nationally and internationally in the Scottish Highland Games.

In fact, at 54 years old, she has captured a slew of wins, including finishing second in the world, winning medals in all the events—two gold, five silver and one bronze, to win silver overall—at the 2018 Highland Games World Championships held in Stuttgart, Germany, last September.

Competing in Scottish Highland Games gives Michelle Galloway Lowe a chance to combine her interest in her Scottish ancestry with her love for “throwing heavy things,” as she does in the caber toss, shown above. Photo courtesy of Michelle Galloway Lowe

Competing in Scottish Highland Games gives Michelle Galloway Lowe a chance to combine her interest in her Scottish ancestry with her love for “throwing heavy things,” as she does in the caber toss, shown above.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Galloway Lowe

Events include throwing “heavy things,” Michelle says, including the caber toss, which entails throwing “a log bigger than a telephone pole”; stone putting, like shot put, but with a heavy rock; the hammer throw, and weight throws for distance and height.

The Games, which began 2,000 years ago, continue to be held in many parts of Europe and the United States to celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture.

“Three years ago, while living in Boise, we attended the Treasure Valley Highland Games,” she says.

A shot putter in high school, Michelle thrilled to watch athletes, dressed in kilts, participating in traditional Scottish Highland throwing events.

“Then the bagpipes came on the field, and I just stood there with tears in my eyes,” she says.

She followed her heart and family roots, and, after getting back into shape, started competing.

“And I started winning,” Michelle says.

“I thought, “‘This is cool,’” she says, so she kept training, and improved, winning more and more. This year, Michelle has added Olympic weight lifting to her repertoire and will participate in those competitions as well.

“I have always been strong. This is just what my body shape was meant to do,” she says.

Her family—especially her husband, Jordan—has been very supportive, Michelle says. In March, when she competes in the National Weightlifting Championships in Salt Lake City, Michelle will have several members of her extended family there as well.

She says her ward Relief Society sisters “are so cute. They let me brag and are super excited for me.”

Michelle has the support of other Scottish Highland athletes as well. Because it is an individual sport, “it comes down to my personal best against someone else’s personal best. What I do isn’t dependent on what anyone else does or doesn’t do.” This makes for a great deal of camaraderie and family feeling among the athletes and has afforded Michelle some opportunities to let others see the Church in a different way.

“I do represent the LDS community in their eyes, and I think they have been able to see that there is more to us than just the stereotypical, ‘Molly Mormon,’” Michelle says.

“I’m really happy about my progress. I feel stronger and healthier than I ever have before,” she continues. “I’m 54, living the dream and doing it after I’ve been married 18-20 years and have four kids. It’s like a second chance to do something, and I really like it.”

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