Not all world-class athletes map out their post-competition lives. Brittanee Laverdure will tell you her plans with pride and confidence.
The Watson Lake wrestler is living in a period of overlap, trying to get her future as a lawyer into a hold while keeping her status as a national team member pinned to the mat.
“Everybody can’t believe I’m in law and am doing all these things,” said Laverdure.
“I actually got really anemic this year. I was just exhausted, but I adjusted. Last year we used to train 12 times a week and I cut it down to eightÃ‰
“I’ve been doing it long enough that I’m not forgetting the sport.”
Laverdure, who wrestles in the 55-kilograms weight division, started law school in Calgary in September and has since been performing a “bit of a juggling act” to keep her scholastic endeavours on track while she continues to travel the world for wrestling.
In October, Laverdure flew to Tokyo to compete in the World Championships, originally matching her previous year’s performance with a fifth-place finish. However, at the start of this month Laverdure learned that she was moved into a podium spot for bronze with the disqualification of a Polish wrestler who was found to have used steroids. (In wrestling two competitors finish in third, eliminating a fourth-place position.)
“It was cool because I wanted to medal at the Worlds,” said Laverdure. “But it’s a mixed feeling. If you’re on the podium or you win a match it’s a really good feeling but I guess the good feeling coming out of this is that they caught somebody cheating basically.”
Being an experienced wrestler with years of experience competing internationally, Laverdure feels she can better understand why some athletes turn to cheating.
“In Canada we are pretty oblivious to it,” said Laverdure of steroid use. “I can understand it more when I go to places like Eastern Europe and China. They don’t have the same opportunities that we have. We do sport because we love it and it’s fun, but there they do it lots of times because it’s a way out of, maybe, a situation.
“We don’t have the same pressures.”
After Tokyo Laverdure competed in a meet in Vancouver called the Hargobind International. Although she won gold Laverdure seems to take more pride in being named the women’s Outstanding Wrestler at the event. The prestigious award came with an actual, solid gold medal.
“I didn’t really expect it because I didn’t feel I wrestled my best,” said Laverdure. “I kind of feel like I haven’t been wrestling my best all season, but I’ve been posting some pretty good results.
“I think I only gave away one point in the final, but it wasn’t a high-scoring match. I wrested well tactically Ã‰ I don’t think there was much opportunity for her to score. I looked like I was dominating even though the score wasn’t that high.”
After another golden performance in New York at the American Airlines International at the end of November, Laverdure competed in a couple smaller meets in Edmonton and Calgary, winning her division in both. Of the two, the Calgary tournament stands out because it provided her with an opportunity to compete against some wrestlers from a visiting Japanese team.
“Wrestlers from Japan start wrestling, probably, when they’re three years old, so they have very good technique,” said Laverdure. “They’re really respectful when you wrestle them and they have good sportsmanship, but they want to win – they have pride on their back.
“I wrestled up a weight class just for a challenge Ã‰ So some of them gave me a run for the money.”
Continuing to rake in the medals, Laverdure recently won an international meet in Colorado Springs and just last week she returned to Calgary from the Dan Kolov International in Bulgaria where she took silver.
“I lost to a pretty decent girl in the finals who was fifth at the Olympics,” said Laverdure, speaking of Ana Marie Pavel. “I was a little bit flat and just gave up.”
Next up, Laverdure hopes to defend her title at the Senior Nationals in March, which could be a stepping-stone to the Olympic team.
“It’ll be difficult because if I win nationals it’ll be right in my exam period,” she said.
In the meantime, it’s back to the books for Laverdure, who intends to someday defend the everyman by getting involved in human rights and land claim issues.
“I’ve wanted to go into law since high school,” said Laverdure. “Just being from a small place – and I’m First Nations as well – I think (becoming a lawyer) is a way to give back. Helping a community through my education is what I’m hoping.
“I’m not going to be a big-firm lawyer Ã‰ I don’t aspire to work in a big office building or anything like that.”
Contact Tom Patrick at