by John Unrein
Three distinct things garner your attention upon entering the Grain Valley Eagles wrestling building behind the high school: a sign taped to the door requesting that a mask is worn upon entering the facility, a large cutout of an Eagle in a wrestling singlet, and the ritual of spike ball being played by those who get to practice early.
For those of a certain age or unfamiliar with spike ball, think of an equivalent of four square being played by contestants as they spike a ball into a small trampoline net. The benefits of the game become easily apparent with the agility and quickness required by participants, not to mention the laughter and smiles that accompany the competition. Such is the design of Eagles head wrestling coach Jeff Bowman who is in his second year at the helm.
Bowman is notably proud of his team, including freshman Sevi Aumua. The 151 pound weight class grappler loves wrestling for the competition it brings, the camaraderie from being around her teammates and coaches, and the confidence gained from learning self-defense.
Aumua’s entry to practice coincides with that of her quiet and unassuming nature. Her male teammates are quick to say “Hi” and share the latest funny Tik Tok video or Snapchat from a group of friends.
Aumua got started in wrestling through attending the meets and practices of her younger brother. Her parents noticed how Aumua paid keen attention to what was happening and encouraged her to consider taking up the sport. From her first club practice, Aumua was hooked and has continued wrestling at the high school level.
“I feel like there are people who think that girls can’t wrestle. I have met that criticism, and I would like that myth destroyed. I am a competitive person that likes winning. The joy you get from a win brings enjoyment to the whole team. It is an accomplishment past you,” Aumua said.
“I like going to the weight room in the summer to get stronger. I stay busy with schoolwork and playing multiple sports. I play football in the fall and soccer in the spring as well.”
Aumua’s competitive streak was also apparent for the Eagles this fall. Aumua could be identified more by her long black braided hair coming out of the back of her helmet instead of shying away from contact at the line of scrimmage. Evidence of this could be heard as much as seen from the “popping” sound that would come from Aumua pulling from the offensive guard position and kicking out the edge defender on the Eagles “down” or off-tackle trap running play.
When Aumua does find time to relax, she enjoys nature walks and writing poetry. Counting how many animals she can hear or see on a jaunt to unwind is equally matched by creating rhymes that demonstrate expression.
“My long term goals include figuring out what college to attend. I am focused on wrestling and hope it can bring me a scholarship in the future. I am just a freshman, but I look forward to my future.”