Sports

'It's going to spread women's wrestling:' How the Badger RTC is helping women reach their goals

'It's going to spread women's wrestling:' how the Badger RTC is helping women reach their goals

MADISON, Wis. - It's a hot July day in the Badger wrestling room, which has no air conditioning.  

Ronna Heaton and Jayden Laurent spend a lot time here. 

"Two a day, then on the weekends, we have one on Saturday and Sunday off," said Heaton. 

She and Laurent have been doing this for years.

"I was 8 years old," said Heaton. "I started at the age of 4," said Laurent. 

In a sport dominated by mostly boys and men, Ronna and Jayden faced obstacles from the very beginning.

 

 

"Dads and stuff didn't really like it when I would wrestle their kid, so they would have their kid forfeit or sometimes, or like, they would get really into it when they wrestled me," said Heaton. 

"They would ask my mom if I was on steroids or if I was going to be transgender. No matter what they say, it wasn't going to stop me from doing what I love," said Laurent.

 

 

Right here in Madison, the Badger Regional Training Center is helping girls get to the next level.

"Most of the time, they are paired with (a) college program and either postgraduate or, in the girls' case, senior-level athletes that are not competing in college because women's wrestling is not an NCAA sport yet," said Ben Askren, Badger RTC coach.

Just a few months here, the women saw this as a good thing.

"For them to accept women's wrestling is awesome because it's going to spread women's wrestling and really get it out there and make younger girls want to start because they see we get the support from these coaches and starting RTC for women is really cool," said Heaton. 

"After coming to some of these practices, I was pushed so much and I could see myself gaining so much ground. And getting to learn from these coaches is honestly amazing," said Laurent.

So what's next for these women? 

"Now I'm getting ready for the junior world championships in Estonia in August, so I'm training for that," said Laurent. 

"I want to go to the Olympics one day so I'll train to do that, and that's either 2020 or 2024 and that's my goal," said Heaton.

If you would like to donate to the Badger RTC, click here.  

 

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