Beaver Dam RTC holds all-girls wrestling camp at OSU


Kayla Jones OMN Photographer

In a photo taken for the June 2022 issue, senior wrestler Devan Turner (left) is seen receiving congratulations from the OSU wrestling program’s head coach, Chris Pendleton (center), and associate head coach, Nate Engel, during his senior night on Feb. 4 inside of Gill Coliseum. Pendleton and Engel are helping assist the women’s wrestling camp held by the DAM RTC on Aug. 13 and 14.

Haley Stark, News Contributor

Coming into his first year as head wrestling coach in 2020, one of Chris Pendleton’s main goals was revamping Oregon State University’s Regional Training Center.

The first all-girls wrestling camp run entirely by world-renowned female wrestlers attempts to aid in that goal, which began earlier today.

According to Pendleton, Dam RTC and RTCs all around the country aim to find promising athletes and help them hone their skills to become the best version of themselves they can possibly be.

“The Regional Training Centers give all levels of men and women athletes opportunities to train for their Olympic aspirations,” Pendleton said. “We have everybody from high schoolers to college wrestlers, to people that have been out of college for years and are pursuing their Olympic dreams, and this is an opportunity for them to train with elite-level coaches and athletes.”

Although the Dam RTC is a separate entity from OSU, the two are intrinsically linked by personnel and work together to provide athletes with these opportunities. Gill Coliseum’s wrestling gym is rented out by the RTC and serves as its main hub for training and camps like the one held from Aug 13-14. 

Despite Pendleton’s accolades as head wrestling coach, he felt that showcasing the talent of Dam RTC’s female athletes was the best choice for hosting an all-girls camp.

“I feel very strongly that it’s time to empower women athletes and let them drive the ship,” Pendleton said. “I just feel like when you have young women that can see their older role models in positions of power, running it, going through (it); it just is a little bit different of a dynamic than it is if me or any of the other coaches were involved.”

Skylar Grote, Alexandria Glaudé, Mallory Velte, and Alyssa Lampe make up the star-studded lineup of female wrestlers heading the camp, all having experience in major national and world competitions. 

Grote, who is the winner of the 2022 U.S. Open and Pan-American championships, became involved with Dam RTC after coach Nate Engel reached out to her in response to her tweet expressing her want for more opportunities for women at the RTC level.

“He said the DAM RTC wants to have more females and we want to support women in the sport,” Grote said. “So I made a visit last December and I loved it, and that’s how I’m here.” 

Grote began wrestling at the age of eight, which is the minimum age to be able to participate in the camp. Having grown up as only one of seven high school-aged female wrestlers in her home state of New Jersey and having limited options for women in the sport, Grote expressed that she would have liked to have been part of a similar camp when she was younger.

“I didn’t really get the opportunity to be around females my age doing the same thing as me, so I think that would have been awesome to just be around people that were like me. I think that’s important to see people that are similar to you and going through similar struggles and situations,” Grote said.

While 2021 Pan-Am champion Alexandria Glaudé took a different route to becoming an elite wrestler, having started her journey with the sport in high school, she also was inspired to join Dam RTC because of the organization’s support of women in the sport. She feels that this weekend’s camp is a great way to empower up-and-coming female wrestlers.

“I think any opportunity I have or that presents itself to give back to the sport is definitely one I want to be a part of, and I know that when I was first coming up in wrestling it was kind of difficult to go to a wrestling camp that had a lot of women,” said Glaudé. “So I think it’s extra special to be a part of a camp that is facilitated by women and allow these young girls to see what’s possible for them.”

As for the content of the camp, participants can expect a mixture of exercise and athletic insights during their two-day stay.

“We’re going to go over some throws, we’re going to go over some freestyle moves, particularly laces and gut wrenches,” Grote said. “Besides the wrestling part, we’re also going to talk about some important topics for females in sport and just athletes in sport in general, like body image, mental preparation, motivation, topics like that.” 

Like Grote, Glaudé hopes that the camp will have an impact beyond just giving participants a good workout. 

“I think they can expect to experience, for one, a lot of fun,” Glaudé said. “I think we’ll also give them a lot of tips on mindset and things to focus on to help them improve their game, and I think also a chance for them to make friends and meet other girls in the sport and just hopefully leave feeling empowered and wanting to get better at wrestling.”

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