The introduction of the sport of wrestling into the life of Marymount Academy senior Tyanna Soucy has been nothing short of trans-formative. With her recent commitment to the Western Mustangs varsity wrestling team, the local 18 year old has assured that her new passion remains at her side, as she prepares for the next phase of life's journey.
Yet for as much as she shocked the high-school wrestling community with her meteoric rise – Soucy would earn gold at the 2018 OFSAA Championships, despite picking up the sport just four months earlier – the astonishment of what she was accomplishing was equally as surprising to her.
“At first, it was just a matter of wrestling being something that I had always wanted to try,” she said. “I did, and realized how badly out of shape I was. I wanted to lose weight for myself, and as soon as I started losing weight, and I was in the gum and training, it became almost like an addiction, in a good way. Now, me eating healthy and working out and wrestling is the life that I live.”
That said, year two would bring some bumps in the road, mostly due to the fact that by dropping from the 83 kg weight class, down to 77 kg, Soucy had availed herself to a division of female wrestling that offers much greater depth, a much stronger spectrum of competition.
“When I went to my first tournament of the year, in September, I was pretty confident,” said Soucy. “I was still learning technique, that's an on-going work in progress, but I was more comfortable. I think I got too comfortable. At my first meet, I lost, I doubled out. I didn't see that coming.”
Time for a quick reality check. For as much as her early season setbacks may have stemmed from a relatively small degree of over-confidence, the fact remained that travelling the 77 kilo pathway was, very simply, a much tougher route to go.
“I ended up working harder, because I'm in a tougher weight class,” she said. “That's kind of what I was fighting for the whole season. It wasn't always a win situation. There were moments when I would win, and there were moments where I would get my butt whooped.”
To boot, the wrestling itself was far different than year one, aesthetically speaking. “Everything (at 77 kg) is done speedy, done fast, done quick, done precise,” said Soucy. “You can still meet up with a few girls that are a little slower, but when you're wrestling at 77 (kg), you meet up with girls that just want to get in there, and they want to get in there fast.”
“It's funny how much of a difference there is, just by losing ten pounds.”
Working with coaches Patrick Quenneville and Jason Aulenbach with the Sudbury Regional Wrestling Club, Soucy evolved. Though she may have re-calibrated her goals, gathering a greater appreciation of the landscape in which she now operated, the multi-sport Regal maintained a core mindset, a set of beliefs that were paramount to the way she approached her sport.
“I've always had a mindset of, “this is what I want, this is what I'm going to get”,” she said. “Sometimes, it doesn't always work out. You don't always succeed, but that's part of being an athlete. There wasn't ever a change in mindset, but there were certainly days when you are more down – but that's with anyone with anything.”
“I always try and take a loss with humility, wisdom and respect. I try and take losing as something to further myself, to make more of an experience from it, to take it back to the mat, back to my training, to help me get better.”
By the time that OFSAA 2019 rolled around, Soucy was feeling that she had returned to the top of her game. With a gold medal performance one year earlier already on her resumé, the best she could do is equal her showing of 2018. Early round wins over Ivana Camargo (Sir Frederick Bunting SS) and Julie Moffitt (North Hasting) seemed to bode well.
Then came a loss to Alexis Baxter and the need to focus on hardware decorated with a colour other than gold. It wasn't easy, but a third place finish gradually came into perspective. “For me, one of my biggest accomplishments, and it took me a while to realize it, was winning bronze at OFSAA,” noted Soucy.
“I wasn't expecting to go there and lose in my third fight. When I won the bronze medal, I was mad, for a bit, but then I took some time to look back and reflect, looked at how much weight I had lost, looked at these girls that I wrestled, some that I think have been wrestling for six to eight years. I felt pretty accomplished, even with bronze.”
Turns out she wasn't alone in that feeling. As the end of her local high-school days at Marymount drew closer, the interest of Ontario university wrestling programs increased. “Universities were reaching out to me,” she said. “Clearly, there is something there, clearly I have some potential to wrestle post-secondary.”
“I just decided I was going to do whatever it takes to get me there.”
When Soucy jokes about addiction to wrestling, she knows it's only partly in jest. “There's no real off-season for me,” she explained. “When we take a summer break from wrestling, I'm still in the gym, training. Everything I do athletically is for wrestling purposes.”
If moving from 83 kg to 77 kg presented some challenges, Soucy understands that might pale by comparison to the jump to the post-secondary ranks. “I need to work on everything,” she said. “I need more technical work, I need more agility work. There is never enough.”
“You are never going to reach your max – you can always learn more. I think that's one of the good things about wrestling.”
One of the many good things that wrestling has offered Tyanna Soucy, in the span of two very short years.