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04/16/2024 11:24 AM

Lavigne Lapped Up Strength and Determination as Freshman Grappler for Hand

Hand freshman Evelyn Lavigne burst onto the varsity scene for the Tigers’ wrestling squad this winter, as she also placed in the Queen of the Mat Tournament. Photo courtesy of Evelyn Lavigne

One of the bigger stories within the room of a young Hand wrestling team was the emergence of a freshman phenom in Evelyn Lavigne. In only a single season, she has broken through several barriers while strengthening her physical abilities and bolstering her spirit and self-confidence as a person and competitor.

The Hand freshman grew up playing lacrosse, which she still plays for the Tigers, along with several other sports prior to discovering the mats in seventh grade. After starting out on the JV rung of the Hand ladder this winter, Evelyn found her way to a varsity position on the lineup. She ran with it for a resounding rookie year, which included placing at the Queen of the Mat Tournament.

“I love in wrestling how hard the coaches push us. The coaches push you to do better than you think you can,” says Evelyn. “A big help was my offseason training, and my coaches there really push us and teach you the little things. Those little things build up to create the big things.”

When it came to that crowning achievement of her season at the Queen of the Mat draw, Evelyn was simply gracious for the opportunity to compete against her sorority of grapplers. She explains that the iron sharpened iron, as it made her that much stronger of a combatant.

“It was exciting to actually participate in a girls’ tournament after wrestling in boys and co-ed ones for years,” Evelyn says. “To wrestle against girls is a whole different thing. Wrestling the other girls helped me improve who I was.”

Beyond swagger from success, Evelyn came into an organic windfall of confidence from simply being around her fellow Tigers’ teammates of all backgrounds. It parlayed into her being a social butterfly rapidly flapping her wings at several tournaments. She also found a network of fellow colleagues to text for encouragement and knowledge at a moment’s notice.

“I felt much more confident after being myself around everyone,” Evelyn says. “I have improved my self-confidence, too. At tournaments, I can just go up to and talk to anyone. I feel much more confident, because I know I am in a place where I belong. All the female wrestlers in the state share a group chat together. We help each other and give each other advice. It is a place where we can ask each other anything without being judged in any way.”

Still, in all the accolades and growth in one campaign, Evelyn was certainly grounded by its rough beginnings. Yet it was not only a teachable moment, but a character-building one with Evelyn taking the more courageous and beneficial fork in the wrestling road.

“My first varsity match was humbling for me,” says Evelyn. “I won a lot of matches in middle school, then I was at JV to start this year, and then I moved up to varsity. I got beat up a lot in varsity, but I kept pushing. It made me readjust my mindset and mentality. It helped me build myself up to be stronger than ever.”

With a trio of campaigns on the horizon for her, Evelyn is eager to get right back at it for the postseason. She has her heart set on a trip to regionals in the future, but more importantly, Evelyn looks to procure the perfect product of herself.

“I want to place above third at the State Open going forward so I can get to the New England Championships,” says Evelyn. “But I also want to just become the best version of myself that I can be.”

Hand Head Coach Michael Docker advised that Evelyn never relents on the mats. She additionally shows great tenacity and a fiery, competitive spirit by never turning back a challenge.

“Evelyn is a hard worker that holds herself accountable for every second in the wrestling room. She is tough as nails and doesn’t give anything to her opponents without a fight,” says Docker. “She makes her fellow wrestlers work for every takedown and never gives in. Eve is very dedicated and was always present for practice. She is a sponge that absorbs all the knowledge that the coaches give her. She also never backs down and did not miss any matches, even though she knew that she was about to face an opponent that might be a lot stronger.”

Looking at the bigger scope of things and the effect her pinfalls and takedowns have had on her, Evelyn explains that through the ups and downs, forward and upward movements must be the sole constant. She also details that she has grown a deep support system of cohorts and comrades, which has only uplifted her further.

“I have learned to never give up, and that has crossed over into all of my sports and parts of my life,” Evelyn says. “You just have to keep running and never give up. If I am tired, I just tell myself to keep going. Through wrestling, I am finding that same motivation to do anything, especially with my schoolwork. My self-confidence has also sky-rocketed, and I have made more friends in the last three years than ever.”