In a remarkable comeback to the wrestling community, Jazmyne Barker, an accomplished athlete in the sport, is making waves once again—this time as a coach. Barker, who retired from active competition in 2016 and recently welcomed a child in late 2021, has transitioned into coaching with great enthusiasm and is set to be a powerful representative for women in the sport.
Barker’s journey back to wrestling began earlier this year in January when she joined the Grande Prairie Wrestling Club. After attending a wrestling camp in Grande Prairie run by Mike Dunn, Barker connected with Adam Link, who expressed the need for assistance with the Grande Prairie club. Drawn by her lifelong love for wrestling, she eagerly began coaching, marking a return to the sport she holds dear.
“I have always loved the sport of wrestling and was so happy to get back involved after retiring in 2016 and having a baby in late 2021,” Barker stated. “I started wrestling in 2002 for fun with King of the Mat wrestling Club with Mike Dunn and from there it became a career.”
Barker’s history in wrestling is illustrious, marked by significant accomplishments including a Pan Am Silver medal, Commonwealth Bronze medal, and being a World Cup Team member in 2008 and 2009. She was the 63kg National champion in 2014 and earned the title of the most outstanding Female Wrestler. Over her career, Barker secured 11 National medals.
Her coaching journey officially began in Calgary, Alberta this year after moving back to Airdrie. Now under the guidance of her mentor, Barker will be helping coach with The Alberta Elite Women’s Wrestling. “I am very excited to have started my coaching journey here in Alberta, especially with The Alberta Elite Women’s Wrestling team with Mike Dunn,” Barker shared. “This group of girls are so talented, and I hope to give them a little piece of myself and my enthusiasm for the sport of wrestling.”
Paige Veloso, a member of the Alberta Elite Women’s Wrestling Program, highlighted the impact of wrestling in her life by stating “wrestling has impacted my life in so many aspects on and off the mat. Wrestling has allowed me to take that discipline that wrestling taught me and apply it to my daily life.” She continued to express her excitement for Barker’s coaching role. “I’m excited to have a female coach such as Jazzy! Having Jazzy as a female coach will allow her to be a role model and offer athletes a variety of viewpoints, knowledge, and recommendations by being able to bring her own experiences from her wrestling career, and demonstrate them in the wrestling room.”
Similarly, Jusleen Sidhu, also from the Alberta Elite Women’s Wrestling Program, voiced how wrestling has given her a purpose in life as it is something to look forward to. Sidhu has been able to learn how to be disciplined and to work hard, such that it helps with life within school and a job. She then emphasized the importance of a female coach in the wrestling community. “I think having a female coach in our girls club is super important. I’ve only ever had male coaches, so being able to see a female coach is super helpful and it shows how much the sport is evolving.” Sidhu continued by saying that “ I hope that Jazmyne will be a coach who pushes us to be the best we can, I hope she brings in a positive attitude into the room with her. I’ve never really cared about a male or female coach, I’ve always just wanted a coach who will push me to be the best but having a female coach in the room will help me connect better with her as a coach and it’s nice to have a female role model.”
Since the season has just begun, Barker communicated that she has currently only coached a few practices so the connection between the athletes and her are still a little bit of earning each other’s respect. However, she hopes that over the next few years as a part-time coach, she is able to create a big impact on the young athletes she is able to coach and connect with.
As Barker embarks on her coaching journey, she aims to create a positive impact on the young athletes she mentors, drawing from her extensive wrestling experience and her mentor Mike Dunn’s guidance. The 2023-24 wrestling season holds promise as Barker works to inspire and guide the next generation of wrestlers, particularly young women, on their wrestling paths.