Professor Esther Odamah prepares to throw a shot put.

Working on a doctorate, teaching and volunteering are just a few of the things COM psychology professor Esther Odamah stays busy with. This year she’s also training in competitive powerlifting and shot put.

“My dream since I was young was to be in the Olympics,” said Odamah. “I train two to three times per day. I do intense conditioning in the morning. In the afternoon I do shot put, and in the evenings I do powerlifting.”

An athlete in track and field since sixth grade, Odamah started powerlifting in 2011 by scouring articles about the sport, forming her own regimen and rigorously training herself.

She next entered the world of competition. In 2015 she set the United States Powerlifting Association Texas record for squats with a 413.36-pound lift, which still stands. This year she’s preparing for five to eight powerlifting competitions while training in shot put with coach Terrence Davis. 

She keeps a grueling schedule besides teaching and tutoring.

“It doesn’t matter if it is 2 a.m. – if my alarm is going off, I take my supplements and head to the gym,” said Odamah. “It’s tough but it’s persistence and drive that keeps me going.”

She also finds time to volunteer to read at an elementary school each Friday.

What do teaching and lifting have in common?

“Motivation – You have to be motivated. Also you have to make associations to remember things. I make associations to remember the form I need to contract my muscles and in teaching I have to make associations for students to remember terms and concepts,” said Odamah. “You have to be passionate to keep going when you experience those lows. 

"I come from a family where academics and service to others were the main priorities. Athletics were never fully supported. I didn't understand why God would give me athletic ability, and yet I would be unable to use it and fully express my potential. Now I can. My passion and my drive come out of this." 

A psychology professor at COM for two years, Odamah will earn her doctorate this May.

“I’m determined and motivated to get to Olympics,” said Odamah. “The athletic pursuit is more than playing sports. It’s more than winning. It's about doing something I never had the opportunity to do and doing it well."

For more information, email