Wrestling champ heads to Chicago
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The only member of the Madera Coyotes girls wrestling team and Central Section champion, Madison Avila, is surrounded by her parents after singing her official Letter of Intent to wrestle at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.
Madera’s first female Central Section wrestling champion, Madison Avila, will spend the next four years in Chicago, wrestling for North Central College.
“They are top three in the nation,” she said. “I really loved the coaches and the girls on the team. They had a great dynamic and valued teamwork. They took academics very seriously. I’m not only going there for wrestling, but for my education, as well. It was nice going to a college where they value teamwork and academics.”
Avila, who was one of the state’s top ranked wrestlers this season, finished fifth in the state tournament and won the Central Section championship as the first, and only, female Coyote wrestler.
“I’ve been the only girl since Day 1,” she said. “It was nothing new to me. I’ve created a really strong relationship and bond with all the guys. It didn’t change anything. It feels really amazing. I was able to accomplish something historic. It was a goal of mine and nice to accomplish that goal.”
Avila chose North Central, located inNaperville, a suburb of Chicago, during her senior season, but didn’t want that decision to distract from her season. She waited until her season was over before announcing she was headed to Chicago.
“Before I visited there, I was feeling the pressure of where I was going to college,” she said. “As soon as I committed there, I knew that was the place I was going spend the next four years. I was telling everyone that I didn’t know where I was going. I wasn’t ready to announce it yet. Throughout the season, I knew where I was going. Only me and my parents knew. It was something I wanted to keep to myself, a bit. After the season, I wanted to announce it.”
In addition to North Central she narrowed down her choices to McKendry College and Colorado Mesa. She plans to major in biology and become a physician’s assistant. Avila carried a 4.0 GPA at Madera High School.
“They have a P.A. program at North Central,” she said.
Avila said her parents are okay with her move to Chicago and are excited for it.
“They knew already that I was going to move away to college. They loved it there too when I went to visit. My mom was okay with the decision,” she said.
Avila first got into wrestling because of her father and brother.
“My little brother was wrestling and my dad told me I should try it out,” she said. “At first, I was hesitant because I was going to be the only girl on the team. He told me to just try it out one time. If you don’t like it, I’ll stop bringing it up. Just give it a shot. I tried it out one practice and it went from there.”
That first practice occurred before her freshman year at Madera. Before that, she did gymnastics and was also training in martial arts.
“Before I started wrestling, I started training in jujitsu. I kind of knew the basics of wrestling,” she said.
Since then, she feels like she has been catching up to others who have been the sport for many more years.
“I started a little later in the sport so I knew what I had to do to get to where I wanted,” she said. “I’m still not done achieving my goals. I’m still working for them. I had to put in double the work to get to where I am at in four years. I had to do double practices, even sometimes three practices a day. I knew all these girls were already achieving so much because they have been doing the sport for so long and I was barely starting. I had to work twice or even triple as hard. It was really mentally and physically challenging. That just created where I am today.”
But, Avila says she wouldn’t do it any other way.
She does hope she left an impression at Madera High School that females can wrestle and be great at it.
“I just hope that I inspired other girls to do wrestling and continue it,” she said. “I don’t want it to stop with me. I hope it continues on. It does feel amazing that I was able to accomplish those things I was able to do during the season.”
Avila hasn’t gotten ready for her travels and will be on the lookout for a heavy jacket for the midwest winters.
“I haven’t shopped for heavy jackets,” she said. “I have to start doing that soon. I have to start winter shopping in the summer. Working out in the winter is not something I’m looking forward to.”
While her family and friends try to get as much “Madison” time as they can get, she’s ready to begin the next chapter.
“I’m a little bit of nervous and the anticipation is there. It’s a good feeling,” she said.