In the eyes of Andrea Benoit, Nova is a compilation.
While the physical attributes date back to the multi-sport athlete who represented Ecole secondaire catholique Champlain in volleyball, track and field, and a variety of other ventures more than a decade ago, the persona that the local 30 year old has created for her debut in the world of professional wrestling also sprinkles in additional elements from Benoit's background.
"I am trying to re-tap into my inner entertainer," she said recently, noting the formative years she would spend as a member of the Onaping Falls Dance Club. Throw in a career interest in serving the public, one which allows her to serve as something of a role model to local children, and one has the very basic make-up of the wrestler that Benoit carries with her into the ring.
Though the notion of taking a stab at a career in pro wrestling may not have been permanently emblazoned as a life-long goal, nor was it a thought that came completely from left field. "I've watched wrestling on TV since I was a little girl, it was always something I thought about doing," she said.
"I would pay for a ticket to go and watch Wrestlemania. When I was there, I would often wonder whether I could do it." Truth be told, Benoit did indeed follow a far more conventional athletic path prior to sitting down for an interview with Mark Bartolucci of Rock Solid Wrestling back in January of 2018.
"One hundred percent, I credit volleyball and high school track and field for the athlete I am today," she said. "They have helped me so much in wrestling." Following a year competing with Humber College (OCAA volleyball), a season lost after tearing her ACL, Benoit would reach that crossroads that so many competitive athletes eventually encounter.
"I was still looking to be active, other than hitting the gym," she said. "I was working my butt off in the gym, but for what. I continued to play competitive volleyball, whether that was in town, with all of the retired university and college players, or we would put a women's team together and travel down to Toronto and do cash tournaments."
Mixed in were the challenges of obstacle races, a Tough Mudder entry with some of her co-workers, or taking to the road to compete in Spartan races across the province. Still, it wasn't quite enough.
Working out at a gym, watching WWE Raw on the side, Benoit found herself suddenly inspired, driven to action. "I thought I would send a Facebook message to the one person I know who has wrestling contacts," she said, recalling her decision to reach out to Bartolucci.
"The only thing I knew about pro wrestling is what I saw on TV. Embarrasingly enough, I didn't even know about Indy (Independent) wrestling at all. I didn't know it existed. It's basically travelling through towns and performing for very small crowds, working long hours for little or no pay."
Like most who give this a shot, Andrea Benoit clings to a slight hope that it may ultimately amount to more. In the meantime, hours are spent honing her craft. "I'm still a totally new wrestler, but what I have learned so far is that there are moves that women generally do not do, simply because they do not have the vertical, the explosiveness," she said.
In this regard, Benoit does benefit from holding a bit of an upper hand. "My vertical, my plyometrics, my explosiveness date back to high school," she said. "There still is a lot to improve, but I want to do a lot of aerial work and flips. A lot of women don't do leap frogs, for instance, or up and overs in the corner."
Of course, she is also trying to make up for lost time. "When I was at the wrestling school in London, I was one of the oldest ones there." And the reality in this world is that pure raw athleticism is only part of the recipe for success.
Pro wrestling, above all else, is entertainment.
"I have to improve, right now, learning to be less robotic," said Benoit. "We did a show recently in Collingwood and 90% of the fans were kids. It was purely entertainment based, with a bit of comedy, and I really had to loosen up in the ring to put on a fun show for the fans. I'm learning that versatility."
"I'm doing this because I love it, it's a personal challenge."
Hopefully, it will all come together for Andrea Benoit, much as she came together for Nova.
Benoit/Nova will be in action in Sudbury this coming Thursday evening (July 11th) at 7:00 p.m. at the Caruso Club, tag teaming with fellow Sudbury native Tornado (Mark Bartolucci) to take on the mixed team of KC Spinelli and Daddy Davis.