Senior Kiely Tabaldo had an immensely successful wrestling season this year, achieving a 35-0 record and even winning the state wrestling championship.
Tabaldo’s success comes after years of hard work at the sport. “I started out when I was in third grade and my older brother had started doing it and I just wanted to do it,” she said. She comes from a family of wrestlers: her mother, Wendy Tabaldo, is M-A’s head wrestling coach, and her brother is the assistant coach. Tabaldo attributes her success in part to the support of her family.
“My mom gave up having a job when she was younger, and she just sort of managed wherever I went. And my dad stayed at home, but he was funding everything. They’ve always done so much for me, but I can definitely tell that it takes away a lot from their time.”
Being coached by family members has also helped Tabaldo’s success. She explained, “They’re the ones that know me the best so they know what’s right for me when it comes to training. One of the main reasons why I became so successful is because I’m surrounded by people who grew up with me, like my brother. It really does help when you have someone that knows the sport and knows you personally.”
The support she receives from her M-A wrestling teammates has also motivated her. “The team really feels like a family, especially with my mom and brother being coaches,” she said.
While Tabaldo has trained rigorously for wrestling her whole life, this season, she increased her training even more. “I’ve done this my whole life, so it just took a lot of training—six-hour practices, four to six days a week. I’ve been doing this for years, but I think I just amped up my training. It was kind of expected that I did well.”
When asked about her biggest challenge, Tabaldo said, “I’d say not really having as much of a social life as everyone else because I’m always in a wrestling room.”
However, for Tabaldo, the benefits of wrestling outweigh the costs. “You get to go out of the country and you get to experience new things that you’ve never experienced before,” she said. “I never dreamed of going anywhere with it and yet now I get to travel the world with it. The goals that I had really pushed me forward. I wanted to win state, and I knew I would have to buckle down and seclude myself from everyone but it was definitely worth it.”
Going into the state championship in March, Tabaldo wasn’t worried. “It just felt like a regular tournament. I wasn’t nervous or anything, it was just another day. I expected to win, but more importantly, I wanted to have fun with it.”
For Tabaldo, wrestling has taught her, more than anything, that it’s okay to make mistakes. “I can always go back and fix things, and even if it’s in the past, I can learn how to fix it in the future. Learning from my mistakes has been a big thing that’s helped me to succeed in wrestling.”