Women in Sport Spotlight: October 2016
This month’s inspiring female role model in sport is senior national wrestling member, Justina Di Stasio. Read on to learn about how her participation in multiple sports as a child has contributed to her athletic success today.
Name: Justina Di Stasio
Sport: Freestyle wrestling
Wrestling athlete embodies importance of underspecializing to specialize
Is it wise to specialize?
Justina Di Stasio, member of the national wrestling team, doesn’t seem to think so.
“I never felt like I’ve burnt out, and I’ve wrestled every day for the past seven years.”
Physical activity through sports were a top priority in the Di Stasio household. At four years old, Justina dabbled in a multitude of sports, including soccer, baseball and swimming. Her repertoire of physical activity eventually dwindled to soccer and wrestling.
Upon finishing high school, Justina had to pick between her two primary sports, both of which she held close to her heart. In the end, she chose to pursue the more physical sport of freestyle wrestling.
“It’s an individual sport, but I prefer that compared to the team sports I used to play,” she explains. “Wins are because of what I did. When I lose, it’s my fault. It’s my own responsibility of doing well or things going poorly.”
But Justina has nothing but gratitude for the sport she grew up playing competitively alongside wrestling.
“The intensity [of soccer] was good,” she says. “It helped me prepare for wrestling. I’ve been prepared ever since I was 13 years old.”
Justina ended her first season of dawning red and blue at Simon Fraser University with a fourth place finish and eagerness for a well-deserved post-season break. From here, the seeds of making the junior national team were planted in her head by a couple of nurturing teammates. Before she knew it, these little seeds had erupted and taken root in the senior national team and her first senior national title in 2015. Although she never ended up getting that break, she hasn’t looked back since.
As a female wrestler, Justina found herself trekking in an unfamiliar world dominated by men. A world where emotions ceased to exist. Unlike in soccer where she could express herself more freely, Justina often masked her emotions with rough edges.
“Wrestling is a men’s sport. You have to be tough for a little while before showing your more feminine side,” Justina says.
Luckily, she’s been surrounded by a number of irreplaceable role models alongside her journey in this gruelling sport. Her mom, the nurturing one. Her dad, the competitive one. Her high school coach Selwyn, who’s been on national teams himself. Her teammates Danielle, Stacie and Leah, who taught her everything she knows. Her current coaches Mike and Dave, who push her to improve. Another teammate Breanne, who talks her back up after a mental breakdown. (With Justina’s impressive ability to name everyone off within 10 seconds, it’s no wonder how instrumental they have been in her life.)
Currently one of the assistant coaches for the women’s wrestling team, Justina will soon call SFU her second home. In addition to training and competing for wrestling, she’ll have the opportunity to pursue the teaching program at the school in the upcoming year.
Her advice for athletes?
“Don’t centralize yourself as a kid too early and pick one sport - try everything! You meet more people and you work with different ways of coaching. It’s important to enjoy all the sports you can until you have to pick something to be competitive in.”