By Kim Taylor
Copyright © EJMAS 2001. All rights reserved.
Sweat, ripped T-shirts, knee braces, tape, and an ice pack on a swollen nose. Not exactly the place where most mothers might expect to find their daughters, or most people would expect to find the 1999 recipient of The Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation Scholarship for the Prairie Region, but the Canadian national wrestling teamís training camp is where youíll find Melissa Kindratsky,
Melissa Kindratsky (right) with Canadian senior wrestler Christine Nordhagen
In July 1999, the University of Guelph hosted a national training camp for the Canadian menís and womenís Junior (17-20) and Senior (20 and up) teams. The camp led up to the Canada Cup, a multinational Olympic-style wrestling competition held in Fredricton, New Brunswick, the following month. During the latter tournament, Kindratsky was voted outstanding wrestler, and as a result got a trip to the Worlds, where she finished sixth.
We caught up with Kindratsky at the end of the twice-a-day wrestling workouts that followed training runs and a weights session. At the time of this interview, Kindratsky had just turned nineteen. During high school, she was the British Columbia champion and Canadian age group champion three times. In her first year of college, she won the Junior Nationals at 58 Kg and the Canadian University championships at 61 Kg despite missing most of the varsity season with an ankle injury.
Kim Taylor (KT): How did you get into wrestling?
Melissa Kindratsky (MK): I started in grade 8 in Port Alberni, BC, which is on Vancouver Island. The city is a "wrestling town" and some of the women friends of the male wrestlers started working out amongst themselves, then training some of the local girls. This was in 1993.
KT: When did wrestling start in the schools?
MK: The high schools had womenís teams by 1991 and the first official British Columbia championships were held in 1995.
MK: Sheís supportive, but sheís afraid to watch me wrestle live. She doesnít mind seeing a video after itís all over and she knows I havenít broken my neck or anything. Sheís getting better now, though, after sheís decided Iím pretty tough.
KT: Have you had a lot of injuries?
MK: I had a major ankle injury that still bothers me. It caused me to miss most of the University tournaments last year. I was lucky to come back in time for the Nationals and win that. Iíve also had knee problems, shin splints, and chronic back and neck trouble.
KT: What else has wrestling done for you?
MK: Itís helped a lot in my self-esteem, my self-confidence, and all sorts of other ways. We have a very supportive community back home and Iíve done a lot of public speaking and other work to try and give something back.
KT: Do you think other moms should let their girls go into the sport?
MK: Oh, for sure. I do some coaching for grade 5 and 6 girls. They love it.
KT: Even with the injuries?
MK: Itís been worth a little pain for what Iíve got out of it. Of course we try to keep the injuries down with the younger kids.
KT: Have you ever used your skills to defend yourself?
MK: No, not really. My younger brother sometimes fights me in the living room. He thinks heís tough but he canít beat me yet. When I was in high school I had to walk home along a dark path, so I used to think about what moves Iíd use if I were attacked.
KT: So instead of being scared, you used the walk to work on your techniques. Do you often work against men in your training?
MK: In high school I worked out regularly against the menís team, and even participated in tournaments in the States in the menís division. Did pretty good in a couple of them. We donít work out so much against the men in University, as by that age theyíre a lot quicker and stronger. But twice a week in Calgary, the womenís university team works out against high school male wrestlers.
KT: Any trouble working out with the men?
MK: None at all. The younger wrestlers have grown up with women wrestlers, so itís pretty natural to see them on the mat and to work out with them.
KT: So whatís in the future?
MK: I hope I can continue wrestling. The Canada Cup is my first international meet and Iím curious to see how Iíll do against the other teams. Iím looking forward to the Worlds and if womenís wrestling is accepted into the Olympics in 2004, I hope to be there.
KT: Good luck on that and thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
For more of Melissa see "Christine Nordhagen's Five Step Wrestling Strength Workout," Physical Training, February 2000, http://ejmas.com/pt/ptart_taylor1_0201.htm
For Further Reading
Leyshon, Glynn. "Mat Wars: The Story of Ontario High School Girlsí Wrestling," InYo, http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_leyshon_0800.htm
Taylor, Kim. "Christine Nordhagen's Five Step Wrestling Strength Workout," Physical Training, February 2000, http://ejmas.com/pt/ptart_taylor1_0201.htm
Pyette, Ryan. "Perfect match: Dinos wrestling teammates a dynamic duo," Calgary Sun, http://www.canoe.ca/CIAUWrestling/may15_per.html
Wrestling Canada, http://www.wrestling.ca