At age 16, Derrick began lifting weights at the Belleville Weightlifting Club, under nationally-ranked weightlifter/coach, Ted Frank. Derrick’s parents, Howard and Jane, were supportive as he showed a gift for the Olympic lifts. He won all national age-group competitions and set many National Junior records as a teenager. His junior career culminated with an 11th place finish at the 1980 Jr. World Championships in Montreal, Canada. At the expense of attaining a college education early, he moved to the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to pursue his dream of making an Olympic team. At the USOTC, he was coached by Harvey Newton, MA, and sport psychologist, Michael J. Mahoney, PhD. Derrick’s athletic career, and his life, became about maximizing his physical and psychological potentials.
Derrick quickly became a force in weightlifting. He competed in the 1982 and 1983 Olympic Festivals. Derrick represented the United States in the 1982 World Championships in Ljubjiana, Yugoslavia, and won the Oceania Championships in Papeete, Tahiti in 1984.