Tuesday, January 28, 2013
For the last few years, Glenn Hills has had the best wrestling team in the metro Augusta area. This year, they added a secret weapon.
From the day Erika Chew joined the squad as an assistant coach, one thing was clear.
"She's nuclear energy. I can tell you that much," said Head Coach Mark McCall. "She brings a lot of energy to the team, and she brings a lot of technique."
McCall was sold on her the minute she explained she was an Army girl, but it took a little more to convince the team.
Chew said, "I had to beat up the strongest guy. I had to beat him up really bad. At first they were like, 'I don't know about this girl.' Then, once I beat him up, I threw him and beat him up and all this stuff, and they were like, 'Okay. I'm gonna start listening to her. I'm gonna start listening to her.'"
Senior wrestler Corey Holden added, "She took down one person, and we were like, 'Aw, that's just luck.' Then she went to the biggest guy on the team and beat him, and everybody started respecting her."
She's spent most of her life proving herself.
From being the first girl to wrestle at her school, to winning a women's national title in college and now to being one of the only female coaches in the state.
Being a trail blazer is just part of the deal for Erika.
"It just feels good to be one of those pioneers here in Georgia and to have females look up to me and say, 'Wow. I could be something great like you,'" she said.
And like any good coach, the advice doesn't end when practice does.
Junior De'Andre Cochrane said, "When we're not on the mat she actually talks to us trying to tell us to stay focused in school. It's not only about wrestling. Wrestling's second, student athlete, and just makes sure we're on task."
So she's a kind, helpful guide with a mean streak on the mat, and she's totally okay with that.
"I even have coaches and moms and parents from other teams saying, 'Wow. You're like an oxymoron. You're like a girly girl, but then you're like this vicious wrestler.' So I love being the oxymoron. I just love it."
Coach Chew joined the team just because she wanted to give back to the community in a sport that she loves.
She said this will be her only year at Glenn Hills because she expects her Army career to lead her elsewhere.