From Ontario to South Carolina - Deanna Rawn

From Ontario to South Carolina: BR Wrestler Deanna Rawn Takes on U.S. Challenge with Allen Yellow Jackets
Posted on 04/18/2024
From Ontario to South Carolina - BR Wrestler Deanna Rawn Takes on U.S. Challenge with Allen Yellow Jackets

By Larry Moko

Just when it seemed like Deanna Rawn’s wrestling career might be down for the count, she reached out and landed herself a university scholarship in the sport.

The Grade 12+ student at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School recently accepted a deal in the U.S. south to attend Allen University and compete on the mats as a member of the Yellow Jackets.

Allen University is an NCAA Division II school located in Columbia, South Carolina.

“I love wrestling,” Rawn said. “It’s genuinely one of the things that makes me the happiest in life.”

While a member of the Celtics, Rawn won an OFSAA gold medal in Ottawa last year. And last month, she captured bronze in the 115 kilogram category when the provincial high school tournament was held in Stoney Creek.

At the Canadian university level, however, weight limitations apply.

 “Deanna has to go down to the States because the weight class (for female wrestlers) is bigger there than the maximum weight class in Canada,” Bishop Ryan coach Sheldon Francis said.

Rawn, whose signing was celebrated in front of teammates and family members at the gym Tuesday, said: “If we had a heavier weight class in Canada I would have stayed here. But we only go up to 83 kilos.

“In the States, it goes up to 207 pounds so it will be a lot easier to cut for me.”

Rawn took the initiative to connect with a few U.S. schools to see if they were interested before making the official visit to Allen’s campus two weeks ago.

“I talked to some of the girls on the team when I went down there,” she said. “We kind of clicked. That made my decision a lot easier.”

In addition, Rawn was impressed by the team’s coach, Eric Pack, whom she compared to Celtics’ long-time and successful coach, Francis.
“I was mainly looking for the same family-type feel when it comes to the team. It’s going to be nice.”

In terms of finances, after receiving scholarship money for athletics and academics, international student Rawn expects her tuition will cost about $6,500 (U.S.) per year.

“Allen is working on growing its girls’ program,” Francis said. “Deanna will be a great corner piece for them.”

Rawn has a black belt in karate. She was exposed to wrestling at a martial arts club two years before coming to BR. “I like aggressive sports, I guess you could call them. It’s not that I like hurting people. I actually cry when that happens.”

The OFSAA medals won by Rawn in the past two seasons helped the Celtics to consecutive girls’ team titles plus a combined points crown this year. Overall, she competed in three OFSAA tournaments (missing the two that were cancelled due to COVID-19).

Said Francis: “Being interrupted by COVID was horrible for the development of our Grade 12 and 12+ athletes. But Deanna still got through it and performed very well.”

According to Rawn, camaraderie with teammates rather than winning medals was her favourite part of the BR wrestling experience.
“My closest friends are on the team,” she said. “I literally hang out with them every day.”

Both her parents – Ken and Christal – are supportive of her athletic/academic choice.

“I’m really excited,” Rawn said. “I love my parents, but it’s going to be good to get away. It’s a little bit of freedom.
“And it’s going to be summer all year round.”

Photos by Richard Andoga and Bob Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

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