In the ever-evolving journey from varsity wrestling to the demanding world of work and high-stakes competitions, Miki Rowbottom and Katie Mulkay share their unique experiences and insights. As they navigate the transition from university to the complexities of balancing a career and their wrestling aspirations, their stories converge and diverge, creating a tapestry of resilience, passion, and growth.

Originating from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Miki’s path led her to Regina, Saskatchewan, to commence her education at the University of Regina. However, the unforeseen shutdown of the Regina Cougars wrestling program prompted her to continue her academic pursuits at the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. Simultaneously, her wrestling journey found a new home with the University of Calgary Dinos Wrestling. Throughout her university career, Miki, a 2023 USport Bronze Medalist at 63kg, 2021 U23 World Team Member at 65kg, and 2023 WCL National Silver Medalist at 62kg, has exemplified dedication and excellence on the wrestling mat. As she navigates the transition from a student-athlete to a working athlete, Miki’s story becomes a testament to adaptability and unwavering passion.

Miki reflects on the shift from student-athlete to a working athlete with surprising positivity. Embracing the inevitability of the end of her varsity wrestling career, she shares, “My whole life, I have always been a student and an athlete, so taking out the student in me has been kind of nice, not going to lie.” Juggling a flexible job at Starbucks, Miki strategically aligns her work schedule with her intense training regimen, ensuring she can compete internationally without financial constraints. The challenge lies in generating enough income to support her wrestling dreams. She notes, “I work around my training schedule and get time off when I am away competing,” highlighting her commitment to finding a balance.

For Miki, the freedom from the dual demands of academics and athletics has allowed her to revel in post-university life. No longer tethered to the grind of electrical engineering studies, she finds solace in moments of relaxation and self-discovery, sharing, “I am currently taking advantage of this extra time I have now that I am not a student anymore by relaxing, figuring out my career goals, and working on bettering myself outside of the sport and my career.”

Crucially, Miki’s intrinsic motivation remains unwavering. Her love for wrestling transcends the structured obligations of varsity life, and she now steers her own training ship with confidence. Miki emphasizes, “I’ve always wrestled because I love the sport – there’s so much to it technically, creatively, physically, mentally, etc. So, I’ve never felt like I had to be at practice.” The transition from being a varsity athlete to a club athlete hasn’t diminished the unwavering support from coaches and teammates. Miki’s journey is a testament to her adaptability, self-motivation, and the enduring passion that propels her toward the upcoming Olympic team trials.

In contrast, Katie hails from Sherwood Park, Alberta, and embarked on her wrestling journey with the Pandas Varsity Wrestling Team at the University of Alberta. A stellar athlete, Katie’s accomplishments include being a three-time USport Medalist, with a 2019 Silver Medal at 63kg, 2020 Bronze Medal at 63kg, and 2023 Champion at 67kg. Additionally, she secured 2022 and 2023 WCL National Silver Medals at 68kg and was part of the 2022 U23 World Team at 68kg.

Katie, on the other hand, grapples with the challenge of time management in the delicate dance between work and wrestling. The demands of a full-time job often require her to make sacrifices in the wrestling room. She candidly admits, “Time management is a major challenge I am facing; it is hard to be present in the room at all times while working all day outside of practice time.” Yet, she acknowledges that these compromises, while challenging, have not been detrimental to her overall wrestling goals. The pressure intensifies, but Katie faces it head-on, determined to make her mark in the sport.


For Katie, the post-university landscape brings a welcome sense of freedom and flexibility. Liberated from the stress of homework and exams, she shares, “I find I have more independence, and finding employment and pursuing my career goals is exciting as I move forward in life.” The absence of the student-athlete juggle has allowed Katie to embrace the exciting journey of employment and career development, marking a significant shift in her life’s trajectory.

In the varsity wrestling room where both Miki and Katie continue to train, albeit in different capacities, the dynamics have transformed. Miki savors the absence of the competitive pressures that defined her varsity experience, allowing her to reevaluate her goals and contribute as a senior figure, guiding and inspiring her teammates. She reflects, “I’ve always felt supported, and my relationships with my coaches and my teammates haven’t changed.” Katie, too, finds a new role as a senior, pushing herself to set an example for those still entrenched in varsity competition.

As they both set their sights on the Olympic team trials, Miki and Katie showcase resilience, adaptability, and an unyielding passion for their sport. Their individual journeys converge at the precipice of a shared goal. Miki, drawing from eight years of wrestling expertise, notes, “At this point, everything I have now is a culmination of all I’ve done in the past couple of years.” Katie, managing the delicate balance of work and wrestling commitments, embodies determination. Their transition from varsity wrestling to the pursuit of Olympic dreams is a tale of growth, self-discovery, and unrelenting dedication. Miki and Katie embody the spirit of athletes who, despite the shifting landscapes of their lives, remain steadfast in their pursuit of excellence on the mat and in the broader tapestry of their evolving careers.