photo courtesy of Delaware Valley athletics
I first met Leigh at international training camps in Colorado & Canada where I also had the opportunity to coach her. She is an amazing person with a very determined spirit which you will soon read about. Leigh now makes the short list of women head coaches of collegiate wrestling teams longer & stronger…
What age did you start wrestling in competitions and what is your best wrestling accomplishment?
I began wrestling as a senior in HS and my highest individual accomplishment is placing 3rd at the 2015 World Championships. My highest team accomplishment was at the 2008 World Cup where the US Women placed 2nd behind Japan.
How has wrestling helped you in your life?
Wrestling saved my life and continues to help me deal with setbacks & adversity daily. The wrestling mentality is the reason for 99% of my success.
How many years have you been coaching at the college level and what has that experience been like?
Well, I have been the head coach of Delaware Valley for a few days now and I look forward to building a successful program there. I’m just getting started.
How do you balance children & coaching?
In the beginning, truthfully, I didn’t have a ton of support as a single mom with a very young child. She wasn’t in school yet and I was living in a state with no family and a ton of judgment. Moving forward to the present, my daughter is in school now and I am able to work during the day and only surround myself with the most supportive people, whether it be family or otherwise.
What will it take for high school girls wrestling to triple or quadruple in participation numbers? (Current estimates are 21,000 high girl wrestlers.)
I think it’s an unstoppable phenomenon. I think a better question is what can anybody do to stop it? The answer is nothing.
Why is women’s collegiate wrestling important in the USA? (Current estimates are 70 collegiate varsity teams.)
Because, as much debate as there is politically about this next statement, we are still an example to the rest of the world. We represent opportunity and being able to live freely.
What impact (if any) will women’s collegiate wrestling have on Japan’s world dominance in women’s wrestling? (Japan has won 23 of 30 team World titles.)
We as a nation have a relentless spirit. Our top women wrestlers are no different. Just as Helen figured it out [Helen Maroulis was USs first Olympic Champ in 2016 beating 3X Olympic Champ Saori Yoshida from Japan in the finals], I have faith the rest of the team can follow in the path that she blazed, though Japan is not the only country to be mindful of…
What was your experience like as a high school & college wrestler?
In high school and the first few years in college, I was still learning the sport. I loved competing in college and it set me up to have more experience and maturity leading into the Olympic Training Center post Masters Degree.
What current challenges do you see now for female wrestling?
We still have the nay-sayers & chauvinistic people — but their voices as getting smaller, weaker, and even less significant than they were before.
How can people contact you to learn more about your program?
I am very responsive to social media, Facebook, & Instagram via @leighjayneswrestling as well as my work email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonus: What are your goals for the future?
Have a successful marriage, build & have a national ranked collegiate women’s wrestling team, compete & win, be in the best shape of my life, build my business, see my kid thrive academically & physically…I want it all!
Bonus #2: What are three things people don’t know about you?
I play the flute and was very active in the High School Marching Band.
Ancestry.com indicates I am 56% English, 40% African (Congo/Senegal) and 4% Spanish Portuguese which makes sense because my family descended from Cape Verde.
My first business was Crochet by Leigh because I used long bus rides in college to make custom hats and scarves to sell to students/faculty.
Bonus #3: What makes wrestling different than other sports?
It’s an individual sport — but you need people, partners & coaches to make an insane amount of sacrifice to support you — which is why reaching a certain level of achievement is absolutely amazing.
Leigh brings new & fresh outlook to the growing number of female women’s wrestling head coaches and becomes the 13th woman head coach joining: Kristie Davis, Emmanuel College; Dany DeAnda, Presbyterian College; Christen Dierken, Gannon University; Kate Fox, Lackawanna College; Brittney Gadd, Brewton Parker College; Brandy Green, Limestone College; Shauna Isbell-Kemp, University of Jamestown; Breonnah Neal, Ferrum College; Elena Pirozhkova, New Jersey City University; Carlene Sluberski, University of Providence; Ashley Sword, Life University; & Nicole Tyson,Oklahoma City University.
For more from Shannyn check out his facebook page: http://facebook.com/uswomenswrestling.