While the Women’s World Cup members took their victory lap around the U.S., another group of elite women’s athletes were gathered in a basement wrestling room at Columbia University watching and talking about their upcoming chances at the brightest of lights.
They were, and are, the best members of the U.S. Women’s Wrestling team, who came to new York under the leadership of Coach Terry Steiner and team leader Kyra Barry to train and build some team experience in Gotham on the campus of New York’s Ivy League school, one which incidentally is steadily building a women’s wrestling program of its own, a first for Ivy schools.
“Our goal was to get the team together not just for training but to learn more about each other and experience what life is really like in and around New York,” Barry said during the week. “We have such amazing athletes and women’s wrestling is growing so fast in this country but is still underexposed and we felt this would be a great way to get things moving along both as athletes and teammates.”
The week was full of training exercises of every kind, from MMA to working with young wrestlers as part of the highly successful “Beat The Streets” program, with trips to Yankee Stadium, The 9/11 Memorial, and yes the WWC Parade all worked in. The team even gathered at legendary sports bar Foley’s NYC on the Sunday night to watch the Championship Game, with many relating to the experiences their fellow athletes were going through in Vancouver.
“It’s amazing, it’s what we all strive for, and to understand what it takes to be the best and then see those women achieve that goal gives us all hope for what lies ahead,” said world number one Adeline Gray, who was part of the team that will now go on to compete this week at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Gray, along with teammates Leigh Jaynes-Provisor, Elena Pirozhkova and Alli Regan got to even get up close to the WWC stars on Friday, attending the parade in lower Manhattan as special guests before heading out of the city.
“It was great to see how the city took to the athletes, especially our four girls from New Jersey, my home state,” added Provisor, who at 34 is the oldest member of the team and a strong Olympic hopeful.
While their spots at glory may not come until this September’s World Championships in Las Vegas or the Olympics next summer in Rio, the week of watching, and training and learning was a worthwhile one to see and prep for what could be.
“The sport of wrestling itself, and women’s wrestling in particular is really on an upswing,” Barry added. “These type of weeks will only add to the experience and help us tell our story to a broad audience and that is how we can grow the experience for all.”
That potential for growth was not lost on any of the team members, whose memorable training week crossed paths with the world’s biggest sports stars just a few feet away.
“It’s where we all think we can be, that’s why we are here,” Provisor added.