Wrestling can be more mentally than physically challenging for some young athletes.
Telkwa’s Lisa Brise knows this all too well.
She enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan a few years ago to study kinesiology and wrestle with the Huskies wrestling squad; but it wasn’t until her second year at university that she realized she needed a break.
“I was quite frustrated with wrestling. I no longer enjoyed competing and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to anymore,” said Brise. “I was struggling a lot mentally and I was getting a lot of anxiety with competitions, which was detrimental to my performance.”
Brise took a semester off to travel South America with her sister. In three-and-a-half months, she explored Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile.
Since the trip, Brise has returned to the mat feeling more energized and excited to wrestle than ever before.
“I’m feeling really good. Our coach right now is fairly new . . . he’s made a lot of changes with the programs and so far I really like those changes and can tell they’ve made a lot of difference in my wrestling,” said Brise, who started her third year at university in September.
The 21-year-old is performing well considering the season just started.
Brise captured her first varsity gold medal in her weight class earlier this month at the Wesmen Open in Winnipeg where she was named the most outstanding female wrestler.
She also came in second place in her weight class at a competition in Jamestown, North Dakota.
Daniel Olver, head coach of the Huskies, said Brise’s decision to travel helped clear her head.
“It’s an opportunity where we’re coming at it fresh with a new perspective. I don’t believe it will hurt her because of the attitude that she takes towards it,” said Olver.
“She is extremely coachable and that makes it easier for her teammates and coaches to manage her throughout the season and I think she’ll find success in just that ability.”
Brise started wrestling in Grade 10 at Smithers Secondary School. At the time, she was playing basketball and decided to take up wrestling as a form of cross-training.
“I didn’t initially like it that much, but as soon as I started competing, I started to really enjoy it,” said Brise. “It’s so diverse, there’s so many ways you can approach the sport, so many strategies. You don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest, you just have to figure out your strengths and work towards them.”
Mike Richey, who coached Brise for three years in high school, said she is a very intelligent wrestler.
“She’s very focused, hard-working, she knew what she could do, she knew what to stay away from. She’s very tactical and very technical,” said Richey.
“She prepares very well for her matches. She works on a strategy ahead of time and she’s really good at executing her strategy and if things don’t go exactly the way they’re supposed to she’s intelligent enough to fine tune it and come up with an alternative solution.”
Brise plans to give wrestling her full attention this season, practicing an average of 20 hours a week.
“I’m just focusing on my varsity career, who knows where it will take me,” she said, adding that after she graduates next year, she wants to complete her masters in physiotherapy.
Over the weekend during the Huskies invitational, she also picked up bronze in her weight class and was awarded a scholarship to continue wrestling at the university.
“The U of S couldn’t find a better student athlete,” said Olver.