Rode: Switch from figure skating to wrestling pays off

Less than two years ago Drew Persson decided to take her life in a new direction.

The then 15-year-old from Eckville dropped out of figure skating and switched to wrestling. It was a move that paid off almost immediately.

Persson has won the Alberta Schools Athletics Association (ASAA) rural title the past two seasons and took the overall ASAA crown in the 70kg division this season. She won silver this year in the Greco Roman competition at the nationals.

She is also an alternate on Team Alberta to compete at the Canada Summer Games.

Persson joined the Crank Wrestling Club in Eckville in December of 2015.

“One of my (younger) brother’s used to wrestle and my dad wrestled in high school, so I though I’d give it a try,” the 17-year-old explained. “I also like more physical sports, and I think once I got into it that’s why I fell in love with it.”

The Eckville club also had an excellent coach in Adam Laporte.

“I really enjoy working with him, and I give him credit for how quickly I developed,” she added.

She also attended Notre Dame High School in Red Deer the past two years, competing on their wrestling team.

Persson not only has natural ability but is willing to spend the time working out. She practises three times a week in Eckville and three times a week in Rocky Mountain House, while working on her strength on Saturday.

“That’s my normal schedule, although it changes with the time of the year,” she said. “I also attend camps in July.”

Persson is presently with Team Alberta in California, training with the California junior team.

She will then join the Crank Club at the World Catch Wrestling championships in Humbolt, Iowa.

“Great experience,” she said. “Right now I’m an alternate with the Alberta team, but get to train with them is a benefit for sure.”

One of Persson’s strengths is her strength.

“I’m not that tall (five-foot-five-and-a-half) but I found that at the Nationals I have more muscle mass than a lot of the girls I compete against and it helps that I have a lower base.”

As a figure skater Drew always had strong legs, but needed to develop her upper body.

“I’ve come a long way in a relatively short time,” she agreed. “The extra time I spend on it really helped.”

Her ability to quickly absorb information is a benefit.

“By competing at the nationals and top competitions I learned a lot of new stuff … stuff you just don’t see. At the Nationals, for example, I learned to slow down a match. But I also know I still have a lot to learn.”

Persson has already caught the eye of one of the top programs in U Sport, at the University of Calgary.

“I’ve met with the coaches and they’ve already invited me to train with them,” she said. “I plan on going down once a week, which is a good step to be ready for when I attend university. Next year I also plan on attending more university tournaments.”

Drew is still at the juvenile (16-17 year-old) level with junior (18-19) the next step, with an eye on the Junior National team.

“That’s my goal. I also would like to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Japan,” she said. “That’s a long way to go, but I hope to train at the National Training Centre and take that extra step.”

Outside of wrestling Persson did try out for the Notre Dame rugby team and has done some boxing and cross-training.

“I was a red shirt with the rugby team and didn’t get into a game, but it was fun.”

With her strength and quickness Drew would seem to be a natural at rugby, but then her time is taken up by wrestling. And she’s definitely a natural at that.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at

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