By Natalie Van Booven

Staff Writer

For many people, the words “women” and “wrestling” go together like chicken and waffles. The very combination is mind-bending and, to say the least, odd—and the statistics bear this perception out. Nationwide, in 2012, only about three percent of wrestlers at the high school level are female. According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, only five states (Calif., Hawaii, Mass., Texas and Wash.) sponsor a girl’s state high school championship.

At the collegiate level, however, the state of women’s wrestling is slightly different. 24 colleges and universities in Canada and the U. S. offer varsity wrestling programs. One of the schools on that list, compiled by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, is none other than McKendree University. To get a glimpse of our women’s wrestling team, I interviewed two of its members: Hailee Lilly (a junior from N. C.) and Olivia Seppini (a sophomore from Calif.).

 

HAILEE INTERVIEW

HaileeLilly

What drew you to McKendree University?

“Wrestling drew me to McKendree because, after, my freshman year at Lindenwood Belleville, my coach decided to transfer here, and I followed him. The atmosphere was a big draw as well. McKendree offers a homey feel, but at the same time has a city appeal to it.”

 

What about the atmosphere do you like?

“What I like about the atmosphere is the nurturing nature the professors here provide me. The smaller class sizes help me tremendously understand I am being taught, and the staff here at McKendree are resourceful enough to help me when I need it.”

 

How long have you been wrestling? Why did you start wrestling?

“I have been wrestling since 2009. I started wrestling because, after my freshman year, my softball coach suggested that I get involved in a winter sport to keep in shape for softball season. What better sport to pick than wrestling?”

 

Tell me a highlight of your wrestling career.

“A highlight of my wrestling career would be my freshman year, winning the WCWA National Tournament in Texas. I felt like all my hard work for that year had finally paid off, beating the girl in finals in just 14 seconds.”

 

What honors/awards have you gotten (besides WCWA)?

“I was awarded Most Improved Wrestler my senior year in high school. In addition to winning the WCWA title, I was also awarded All-American. My sophomore year, I won 6th place at University Nationals. My current year, so far, I have been awarded 6th place at the Missouri Valley Open Tournament, 3rd place at the Bearcat Open, and [I] have been ranked 7th in the nation in the 123-pound weight class.”

 

What comes easiest to you as a wrestler?

“I have a natural athleticism and a disciplined mentality.”

What’s the hardest thing about being a wrestler? How do you deal with it?

“The hardest thing about being a wrestler is cutting out bad habits, such as soda, staying up late, drinking, and fatty foods. I train my body and my mind to overcome the temptations, and I surround myself with similar people that have to achieve these tasks.”

 

What makes it all worthwhile? What’s the greatest reward of wrestling for you?

“Making my family, friends, girlfriend and my coaches proud. The greatest reward of wrestling is building a rare character that will benefit me all my life. As a wrestler, you learn self-discipline, confidence, dedication, follow-through and determination.

 

Moving away from wrestling, how involved are you in school clubs? Which ones have you joined?

“Considering [that] wrestling is a job [in] itself and takes up so much of my time on top of schoolwork, I have been able to be involved in Spectrum Alliance. I have been a member for almost two years now and enjoy my time thoroughly.”

 

What’s your life plan after college? What do you want to do with your life?

“I would love to move back to the East Coast, where I would be working with the government as a federal profiler. I would also like to settle down and create a secure environment for me and my family to grow.”

 

What political/social issues do you care about?

 

Tell me your favorites (book, song, website, etc.).

 

OLIVIA INTERVIEW

OliviaSeppinni

What drew you to McKendree University?

“Wrestling, honestly, is what drew me to McKendree. When I visited, there was a homey, cozy vibe that I loved and hadn’t experienced at any college I had visited in the past. The sense of community was a big draw as well.”

 

What about the sense of community did you like?

“How welcoming everyone was during my recruiting trip when I was visiting. Everyone I came in contact with was excited to share information about McKendree. The hospitality was not something I was used to at home in California. There, the people are open-minded, but they aren’t always very friendly. California’s a place full of diversity, but I have found at McKendree different forms of diversity that I appreciate.”

 

Tell me more about California.

“I’m from Sacramento, and I live just three blocks away from the state capitol downtown. There, everything is in walking distance, and there are many easily accessible dining options and social opportunities. And it doesn’t snow. In fact, it rarely drops below 40 degrees, ever.”

 

How long have you been wrestling? Why did you start wrestling?

“I’ve been wrestling sine seventh grade; that makes it about eight years now. (It’s practically my life!) I joined wrestling because I was curious and I wasn’t involved in a sport at the time. So I thought, ‘Why not wrestling?’ I went out to the first practice and fell in love with the sport right away. I found my niche; something I was abnormally good at. And I was on the boys’ team until college.”

 

Tell me a highlight of your wrestling career.

“There are a lot of different highlights. Probably my top highlight has been making the Junior National Team (JNT). That was when I place second in the country for my age group (17-20 years old).”

 

What honors/awards have you gotten (besides JNT)?

  • Middle School State Champ 2008
  • California Freestyle State Title 2013
  • Competed at Junior Pan-American Championships in Toronto, 2014
  • 4th (all age groups), U. S. Open 2014; qualified for Senior World Team Trials
  • Currently ranked 7th in the country at senior level (all ages)

 

What comes easiest to you as a wrestler?

“I think being tactical and strategic—using my brain.”

 

What’s the hardest thing about being a wrestler? How do you deal with it?

“The intensity and nonstop grind of competing and training. I deal with it by getting enough sleep and eating vegetarian.”

 

What makes it all worthwhile? What’s the greatest reward of wrestling for you?

“I would say the satisfaction of making my loved ones proud. It’s not the only thing, but it’s up there.”

 

Moving away from wrestling, how involved are you in school clubs? Which ones have you joined?

  • Sophomore senator on SGA—finance committee
  • Spectrum Alliance—secretary
  • Student Ambassador—admissions office/tours
  • SAAC committee representative

 

What’s your life plan after college? What do you want to do with your life?

“I have two different possible life plans. The first one is to work in Human Resources. In fact, that’s what I’m studying—business major (HR emphasis) and leadership minor. Specifically, I want to work for a tech start-up in Silicon Valley or the Bay Area, but things can change. The other plan is to work for a college admissions office, or something along those lines. That’s my biggest goal—to make a difference in people’s lives.”

 

What political/social issues do you care about?

Posted by McK Review

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