St. Pat’s wrestler earns prestigious award

Brianna Fraser, left, seen wrestling Mika Smith at an Ontario juvenile tournament. Submitted Photo

Troy Shantz

A St. Patrick’s student has been recognized for her excellence in the classroom and the gym.

Brianna Fraser is one of two recipients of this year’s Stefanko Award, given to one female and one male graduating student in Lambton County who possess strong grades and a dedication to extra curriculars.

“I was really excited. I wasn’t expecting to get the nomination from my school,” Fraser told The Journal.

“My coaches have always talked to me about the journey being important, but these types of things are appreciated a lot.”

Fraser won a gold medal in wresting at OFSAA this year, the all-Ontario high school championships. It joins a pair of silvers earned in previous years.

The 65-kg competitor was introduced to wrestling in Grade 9, when she finished 6th at the Lambton-Kent meet.

With a background in gymnastics, rugby and cross-country running, Fraser also teaches at the Sarnia Wrestling Club and Bluewater Gymnastics.

Lambton Central graduate and tennis player Matt Mueller is this year’s male Stefanko recipient.

The award comes with a $2,000 scholarship, which will complement Fraser’s wrestling scholarship to Brock University, where she plans to study kinesiology.

“Based on her character, we thought she’d be a perfect fit for it,” said long-time coach John Burke.

“Not only is she a fantastic athlete, but she’s the hardest worker on the team.”

Burke, who coaches at St. Pat’s and the wrestling club, said Fraser never missed a workout — even an optional one.

“She’s constantly there; she’s a phenom,” he said.

The 17-year-old said the sport has opened up a number of opportunities, including a training camp and tournament in Romania in 2019.

Though a shot at the Olympics some day “would be cool,” her sights are set on a firefighting or health-care career.

“I think I just want to keep learning, keep training hard, and see how far I can get,” she said.

She said patient and dedicated coaches aided her success, and she wants to pass that on by mentoring younger athletes.

“I really like the sport, and I feel like making it fun for other kids,” she said.

“Sarnia and St. Pat’s have amazing coaches that just make it so fun to be there and be a part of the team.”