Canada Games: Warbling wrestler has a good grip on things

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Mary Niamh McGettigan is a Rose Bowl vocalist who is considering going to medical school one day

Mary Niamh McGettigan

By Robin Short

Telegram Sports Editor—Sherbrooke, Que.

Mary Niamh McGettigan is 5-feet-4 and 142 pounds, a classical singer who hopes to study music at Memorial University and perhaps go on to medical school.

But don’t dare mess with her.

“The more I wrestle, the more I like it,” said the 17-year-old from Harbour Main.

“I’m really competitive, and I like to be able to show my dominance physically on the mat.”

The irony is obvious. In addition to sports — McGettigan also plays volleyball and softball — she is a very good singer.

Modesty will prevent her from admitting she’s accomplished, but she was in the Rose Bowl for junior vocal in the Kiwanis Music Festival this year, and sings in a St. John’s choir conducted by Kellie Walsh, well-known for such things in the city and province.

“I know, you wouldn’t think I was a wrestler,” she says with a wide grin.

“I get that a lot, actually. People ask me, ‘Do you sing to your opponents to freak them out?’ I’ve never tried. Maybe I should.”

Of the Canada Games sports, there is not one so physically tough and demanding as wrestling.

Yet the bright, young Grade 12 student at Roncalli Central High in Avondale has developed a passion for the sport.

She was introduced to it in Grade 8, but only started training seriously in Grade 9.

Wrestling was introduced to the school by teacher Noel Strapp, who still coaches at Roncalli. Strapp once taught up north and was introduced to wrestling there.

“It is tough,” she acknowledged.

“Sometimes my wrestling team jokes around that we wish we were here for volleyball or something because we’d be able to relax a little.

“Wrestling requires an immense amount of mental and physical preparation From a mental standpoint, if you go out on the mat thinking you’re going to lose, you’ve already lost half the match, basically. You have to go out with a positive attitude.

“Newfoundland has always been thought of as the underdog, and it’s the reason why we as Newfoundlanders have to be so mentally prepared because we already have that baggage sitting on our shoulders that everybody thinks we’re the underdog.”

McGettigan has enjoyed hanging out with her wrestling teammates — “part of the reason why I love wrestling so much is we’re like a family” — and has soaked up her first foray into the Canada Games.

“The hype surrounding it is huge,” she said. “I kind of underestimated how big a deal it is, but now that I see the venues, and how much money that has been put into this, it’s a really big deal.”

rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Canada Games

Geographic location: Harbour Main, Kiwanis, Newfoundland

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