By Todd Thomas
Uplift has had a good year in sports by any measure, with the boys basketball team winning the 2A State Championship, and the football team going undefeated in the regular season. Also on the radar for the Titans is wrestler Teshell Elverton, who recently paced fifth at the prestigious Girls Folkstyle Championships in Oklahoma.
Elverton found her calling on the wrestling mat almost completely by chance, and she said she wouldn’t have joined the wrestling team as a sophomore if it weren’t to help out a friend.
“My friend was considering wrestling and she asked me to join with her so she wouldn’t be the only girl. She introduced me to coach Alboyd and it started from there,” Elverton said.
Several girls actually tried out for the team that season, but most didn’t stick with it. Many athletes consider wrestling the toughest sport, and it’s not for everybody.
“Teshell was one of about eight girls that came out for wrestling, but most didn’t succeed because of the endurance needed. Wrestling can be overwhelming because it’s a real tough sport,” said head coach Rick Alboyd, who knows his sports because he also coaches football and track.
It didn’t take long for Alboyd to see that Elverton was going to have an impact as a wrestler for the Titans.
“She started picking it up like the guys and she communicated to me that she really wanted it physically and mentally – it was like wow she got it.”
Elverton started out wrestling boys in Illinois High School Association (IHSA) meets and had some early success against her male competitors – earning much needed respect in the male-dominated event.
“After I won my first match they started to respect me more and saw that I can do this just like they can,” Elverton said.
But being the only female on the team can be awkward at times, especially at practice.
“Practice is hard and being the only girl on the team and surrounded by guys is kind of weird. But I got used to it,” Elverton said. “I don’t communicate well with girls – I prefer to have guy friends. So being on an all-boys team is something that I enjoy,” she said.
But wrestling with Team Illinois in the all-girls league is where Elverton blossomed into an accomplished wrestler, and also where she realized she needed to work harder to build her skills on the mat, and make a firmer commitment to the sport.
“Going to the all-girls league last year was the year and I realized that it’s not easy,” she said. “I wondered if I really wanted to wrestle in college. I prefer to wrestle girls, it’s fun wrestling boys though, because I win sometimes and it’s good to know I can kick a boys butt. But I would prefer to wrestle girls because it’s more equal opportunity.”
Her ascent in wrestling has opened up new opportunities, and she said her dreams have changed a lot since she started wrestling.
“My dreams were very different until I got the opportunity to wrestle in the all-girls league. As I started getting better I realized you could wrestle in college, and I decided this is something I want to continue doing,” she said.
Elverton also has the support of her parents, although it’s her Father who encourages her the most.
“My dad is the most supportive,” she said. “He’s so excited knowing that I’m doing something positive with my life and going in the right direction. My mom is supportive to, but she doesn’t come to the meets because she thinks I’ll get hurt.”
Despite its physical nature, Elverton thinks wrestling is a great sport and would even encourage her own future daughter to try it out.
“I would encourage her – as soon as she turns three she’s wrestling. I would want my kids to wrestle – it’s a great thing.”
Elverton also said that she finds solace through wrestling, and the action on the mat helps her find balance in her daily life.
“After wrestling a lot is relieved off of me. Being on the mat is my positive place,” she said. “I can have a horrible day, but when I get on the mat and leave it on the mat I just feel relieved and refreshed.”
Teshell has been offered an athletic scholarship to McKendree University in Lebanon, IL, and will wrestle on their women’s team next season.