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Chelsea Dionisio | Women of Midland


Chelsea Dionisio is a dedicated mom, and a dedicated coach.

Just how dedicated is she? Less than 72 hours after giving birth to her daughter, Ramsie, in October, she was back leading her Midland University women’s wrestling team in a Monday practice.

“I recruited these girls to wrestle for me, and I need to make sure I’m present and helping them achieve all the things they want to achieve and become the person they want to become,” Chelsea said. “If I’m absent, I can’t do those things. They are my other children, and I want to give them my proper support.”

Since becoming a first-time mom last fall, Chelsea has learned the value of balancing her personal and professional life while not having to compromise either. “There have been struggles, but it’s also been the most beautiful year for both me and my team,” she said. “Our team has come together in so many different ways, and Ramsie has been a big part of that. The way I function as a mother has trickled down to the team. I love them differently but more effectively. The love I have for Ramsie has made me a more wholesome person.”

She just completed her third season at the Warrior helm, a year that was capped off with three Warriors advancing to the national tournament and Chelsea being recognized as the KCAC Coach of the Year. “I had voted for Julian Gayton (coach at Doane University and former Midland GA) so I’m sitting there rooting for him to win, then I hear my name called,” she said. “I was very surprised.”

Becoming a mother changed Chelsea’s outlook in many ways, both on and off the mat. “It’s made me more empathetic as a coach,” she said. “It made me realize that you look at things differently when you’re 18, as opposed to when you are 28, and you’re not going to react the same way. The focal point of my life has changed, and I’m not the center of my universe like I was in my early 20s. It has changed the way I interact with the girls. I’m not as self-centered, and I can pour more of myself into the team.”

Juggling professional and personal lives is tricky within itself, but adding a newborn to the mix is another layer. Chelsea said constant communication with her partner, Doyle Trout (Midland men’s wrestling coach), has been critical in maintaining a schedule that works for both of them. “We always make sure our schedules line up, and we’ve had to do a little shuffling as far as practice and travel times are concerned,” she said. “But through it all, I’ve only missed one practice. I’m able to find an hour of time for myself every day, and Doyle is a big part of that, and I use that to work out. That’s my therapy.”

Those travel plans include Ramsie making road trips to nearly every away meet. “She has gone everywhere with us,” Chelsea said. “I was worried that might be a distraction for the girls, but they absolutely love her. It’s been great because I get to see another side of these girls when they are around her.

“When Ramsie was born, I think the girls didn’t want to bug me and were afraid it would take time away from my baby. I had to communicate with them that they were important, and just because I’m a mother doesn’t make them any less important. I want to be present in all aspects of my life, with my athletes, coaching staff, and partner.”

Chelsea was a wrestler herself at Jamestown University, but becoming a coach was not part of her plans. “I was a Political Science and History major, but I really had no plan of what I was going to do after college,” she said. “My coach approached me about being a graduate assistant, but I had never given any thought to coaching. I took the job and eventually became the assistant coach and never looked back. Once I started building those relationships as a coach, I knew this was my calling.”

Her love for wrestling and competitive drive push Chelsea each day she enters the wrestling room, but her passion for coaching extends beyond what happens on the mat. “I love the interactions with my athletes and seeing the light in their eyes when they know they are capable of something,” she said. “I have girls who haven’t been wrestling very long, and I love being able to inspire belief in them and make them realize on that given day, they can be the best version of themselves.”

As a former student-athlete, Chelsea understands what it takes to balance everything a college student has to do. This understanding has helped her relate to her athletes when they are facing challenges. “You go through a lot of highs and lows as an athlete, and I just want to make sure that whatever they are going through, I’m here to listen and support them and let them know they aren’t alone,” she said.

While the number of female coaches leading women’s wrestling programs is increasing, Chelsea still finds herself in the minority among programs across the nation. She is confident steps are being taken to change those dynamics and knows more female leaders are needed. “There needs to be more of us who feel comfortable being in this career and are here to stay,” she said. “There are so many opportunities, but not everyone is ready to be a college women’s wrestling coach.

“I know I’m more ready now than when I first started. I felt like I had to prove myself, but now it’s not so much about proving myself as it is about being there for my team. I had to learn that it’s not about me, but instead focus on putting that energy into my team.”

In her role as a coach and mother, Chelsea hopes she can set a positive example for her athletes who may one day find themselves in similar situations. “The best advice I could give them is to be patient with themselves and their athletes,” she said. “I think one of the biggest things I had to overcome has been trying to do everything myself. Realize that you are not alone and there are people willing to help you.”

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