The crowd of kids and parents came from across the Ottawa Valley — Renfrew, Barrhaven, Kanata, Ottawa and Stittsville — to meet Erica Wiebe. Erica was in her hometown of Stittsville to share her life experience and have the kids participate alongside her in some wrestling basics on the eve of her Birthday. Erica said, “it has been her dream to come back and wrestle with local people”.
Erica has come a long way from Grade 9 soccer when she was the goalie on her local high school team. It was at this time that she spotted a poster at Sacred Heart High School offering co-ed tryouts for the wrestling team. The poster wanted students who were technical, tactical and up to a challenge. Erica has lived up to all of these qualities and more.
Now here is a tidbit Erica shared that not everyone knows about her ‘podium’ jacket she was donning — on the inside of the ‘podium’ jacket worn by athletes when accepting their medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, there was a message. This inspirational message is placed over the heart and it reads — Stand Tall.
Erica took us through the many trials and tribulations that she has been up against and one of the most overwhelming events happened on July 27th, 2016. She was up early and followed her usual daily routine of warm-up, technique training then wrestling. On that day, her wrestling partner and Erica collided with their heads. Erica was deflated and “…was bleeding, crying, saying I’m done here – I can’t do it”. Six stitches later, she realized that “I’m not breakable and was ready for anything people could throw at me!”.
Erica made the Senior Women’s Wrestling Team in 2013 and progressed with her goal of making the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics Canadian team. Her coach and Erica knew to be good you have to be ‘fit, fierce and smart’. You have to have ‘desire and capacity to get there’. Her coach always said, “I’m not going to ask anything of you that you can’t do.” This is a mantra that sits in the back of her mind at all times. Erica was a formidable member of the wrestling team, but was starting to feel the pressure eight months prior to the Rio Games. She was worried about making Canadians proud.
She mentioned her trip to Rwanda last summer with ‘Right to Play’ and realized that ‘it takes a second to change someone’s life’ and ‘you have the power to be a positive influence on the people around you’. “Thriving is only something you know definitely”, Erica acknowledged.
Erica brought Eric Chan (yes Eric – AKA EEPMON) – an international digital artist – up to the mic and introduced the new program that they have launched with the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa under the guise of Ingenium. EEPMON has created custom artwork in support of Erica’s quest for gold at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. At the Museum, Erica’s state-of-the-art training tech clothing is featured in the Museum’s Wearable Tech exhibition and Eric’s artwork Yours to Discover is on display permanently.
Erica opened up the floor for some questions. The kids immediately raised their hands and were eager to ask their all-important questions of her. From what did you eat the morning of her gold medal wrestle? — oatmeal, nutella and coffee — to how did she feel the morning of the competition? — rode by bus to the venue wearing her headphones and listening to Shaun Paul’s ‘Hold On’, it was the best feeling of the day, feeling that no-one could take away the person she became on her journey.
With the questions over, Erica thanked everyone for coming out and members from the National Capital Wrestling Club for being there. It was time to get down to what everyone was there for – wrestling!
Here are some of the moments of the special and personal evening Erika shared with us.
Throughout her years on the national wrestling team, her own inspirations have come from her teammates, her Coach Paul and kids.
Erica also participated in today’s ‘Sports day the Girl’s way’ at TD Place in Ottawa.
From September 14-22, 2019, Erica will find herself in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan at the UWW World Wrestling Championships, striving again to qualify for a place on the Canadian Olympic Wrestling Team. Erica can be assured that her hometown of Stittsville will be there in spirit to support and cheer her on.
The Tokyo Summer Olympics take place from Friday, July 24 – Sunday, August 9, 2020.
(All photos by Barry Gray and Stittsville Central – teamwork!)