It would be hard to share my road to the Olympics without going back to the very beginning. It was the first opportunity that ended up being the most fortunate and biggest lesson of all.
My older brother T.J. began wrestling in Jr. High School with his best friend Scott Chapman. My two older sisters and I were forced to every weekend event, with long days of wrestling, in a crowded gym and way too much candy at the snack bar. As the tournaments would wind down my sisters and I would find open mat space to have our own wrestling matches. After about a year of this tradition, my brother’s coach Dave Chapman (Scotts’ Dad) asked me if I wanted to start wrestling. He said he would coach me if I wanted to learn. I agreed and from 8 years old on I was hooked! I loved competing. I didn’t care that I was the only girl around and the last picked for a partner. Every day I loved wrestling and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do it because I was a girl.
Chapman turned out to be more amazing than I could have ever imagined. His philosophy was to coach anyone who wanted to learn; he treated everyone the same and I was no different. He had the vision to see that freestyle wresting was going to take me to the highest level. He continued to remind me that folk style season was only to prepare for freestyle, and freestyle was where the opportunities for women’s wresting existed. I competed on my men’s team in High School, two years on JV and two on varsity ending my senior year earning a spot as captain of the team and placing 4th at southern California’s CIF.
By the end of my senior year I had already traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Poland and England on Cadet World teams and wrestling tours. I was just getting started toward a life of wrestling but was interrupted by several concussions that year. I had been to several doctors and was still having a hard time with bright lights, driving at night and becoming sick because I had such bad headaches. My family and I decided it would be best to take a few years off and head to college at California State University Monterey Bay. For the next two years of my life I was a typical college kid. Maturing, adjusting, growing, and living on my own.