Former St. Joseph athlete Pat Latini is not the chubby home-run hitter he was during his childhood playing days in the Pittsfield North Little League.
In fact, soon after Latini started his high school career at St. Joe, he began the process of transforming his body with improved nutrition and weightlifting. Now, Latini is a record-setting weightlifter, preparing for the EPF (Elite Powerlifting) Turkey Day Bash in Peabody on Saturday.
"It was all him. He did it all on his own," Pat's father John said about his son's weightlifting journey. "He'd always been very athletic, but he had some baby fat he needed to get rid of. So he started researching nutrition."
In October, during the EPF Halloween Havoc competition, Latini set the teen state record in the 220-pound weight class with a 345-pound bench press and a 600-pound dead lift. He just missed setting the state squat record, topping out at 465 pounds.
As a youth, the younger Latini's love of fitness started when he began taking an exercise class at the Pittsfield YMCA three days a week. Eventually, three days a week turned into a constant desire to get bigger and stronger.
"He never stopped working out," the elder Latini said. "After games, after practices. ... Going to the gym at 8:30 to 9:30 at night. Regardless of the game [earlier in the day], he did not miss a workout."
During his first year at Springfield College, his interest in competitive weightlifting was sparked by joining the Gym Warriors powerlifting club. Latini has since transferred to MCLA, but he still manages to work out about six times a week, for two to three hours a day.
His weightlifting career is another outlet for his competitiveness and a testament to his dedication. He began his St. Joe career as lineman, but he reached his goal of being a middle linebacker by his freshman year. He ended his career as the team's defensive leader.
"I counted macronutrients and I was very strict with my diet," he said. "Everything that I was putting in my body, I knew exactly what was putting in and I knew exactly what I was burning off. I knew exactly what I needed to do, to get to the point I wanted to be at."
As he prepares to set new state records, he credits his time at St. Joe for increasing his drive to succeed.
Latini played on the final St. Joe football team in 2013 before the school's co-op with Drury. The Crusaders struggled through a winless season, with an undersized and undermanned team. However, that season taught Latini lessons he could apply to weightlifting and the rest of his life.
"That year I felt like I needed to work harder and set an example," he said. "We had a lot of young players and I had to play a lot. I only sat out a few downs the whole year.
"That helped me develop the work ethic. Learning how to work hard and, even when you're down, you have to get going."