Lockport native and Olympic wrestler Haley Augello is proud to be a woman in a male-dominated sport and she's dedicated herself to getting more female athletes in wrestling.
Her first order of business: Bringing home a medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We have to go out and make a name for ourselves in wrestling,” Augello said.
At the age of 9, Augello picked up on the sport when her brother would come home from wrestling and practice his moves on her. She attended a practice with her brother’s team and instantly fell in love.
“Growing up I tried a lot of sports and I was never interested in running around for balls,” Augello said. “When I tried wrestling it caught my attention, it just clicked for me.”
Since she was 10 years old Augello has been wrestling all year round. Her family, friends and others in the wrestling community from Illinois have always been supportive of her passion for the sport, she said.
“As a woman in the sport we always have to fight and grow attention to it,” Augello said.
She believes the main thing that will bring recognition to women in wrestling is bringing home medals.
“I think it’s an honor to wear U.S.A. on your back at the Olympics, especially as a woman,” Augello said.
Still, Augello is no stranger to success.
As a wrestler at King University, she was undefeated in 35 collegiate matches and is ranked No. 3 on the U.S. ladder at 53 kg.
“I think in Illinois it [wrestling as a woman] was really supported, even now with what I’m doing I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and donate to my family to go to Rio,” Augello said.
Over the past two months, a gofundme page she set up has raised over $18,000 by 111 people to help send her family to Rio.
“It’s so awesome” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people that have donated their time and money and effort and all sorts of things to getting my family to Rio.”
Augello’s four siblings, parents and grandparents will be cheering her on at the Summer Games.
“My family doesn’t know anything about [wrestling] but are excited to see it,” Augello said.
Her family has been to numerous national competitions but only her father has been to some international competitions.
Augello is most excited to compete in Rio with her family watching.
“[It will be] one of the most amazing mats I’ll ever walk on besides any other team I’ll make,” Augello said.