By Kristy Koehler, March 7 2019 —
Dinos wrestler Drew Persson competed in the U Sports national wrestling championships Feb. 22 and 23. She placed third in the Canada West tournament leading up to U Sports and fifth in nationals. She also walked away with the Student-Athlete Community Service Award for her hard-work and dedication to her community off the mat.
It’s Persson’s first year with the Dinos, but she started wrestling in high school after 10 years as a figure skater.
“I love the competitiveness and the physicality of it,” she said. “I fell in love with wrestling.”
A good portion of every competition is being mentally prepared, says Persson.
“Mentally, I like to think that I’m one of the bigger girls in the room even though I know I’m not,” she said. “But a lot of it is getting my game plan together, what I want to accomplish. I like to set myself goals for tournaments. I like to set myself three — a minor goal that’s quite easy to accomplish so you get a little bit of confidence in your back pocket and then have more of a goal that takes some work and then an ideal goal — if the tournament was perfect what would that look like?”
Persson brings the same goal-oriented approach to her schoolwork. She’s managed a 3.36 GPA, juggling her work with five days of training.
“Make the most of your time. Don’t have extra distractions,” she says.
Persson loves the environment that the University of Calgary has created for women’s wrestling.
“Any body type and shape can wrestle. It’s the one sport where we’re all different shapes and sizes,” she said. “If you come down to our wrestling room we have some tall, some short, some stocky, some narrow. You’ve got to be in shape — it’s six minutes of one-on-one so there’s no passing the ball off to your teammate. But that comes with repetition and time.
“Our coach, Mitch Ostberg, he brought women’s wrestling into university sports. Wrestling has grown quite a bit in the last 20 years for women,” she added.
Persson’s off-mat activities include helping out with the children and youth wrestling program in her hometown of Eckville, Alberta. She spends her weekends visiting home and working with young wrestlers.
“I enjoy helping other people and it’s more time that I get to spend on the mat,” she said.
She also helps out with the Dinomites, the Dinos feeder program for children, and helps out at a retirement home. Persson says she was raised in a culture of helping others and giving service to her community.
Why did she choose the U of C to start her wrestling career?
“The training partners and the coaches that are in the room,” she said. “We have Olympians and national medalists and international medalists. It’s one of the national training centres for womens’ wrestling right now. It’s really the place to be if you’re a woman in wrestling and have aspirations further on.”
For Persson, those aspirations include wrestling with the Dinos next year, where she wants to place first at Canada West and in the top three at the next U Sports national championships.