Wrestling a family affair for Romanos
From left, Samantha, Matteo and Katelyn Romano. Photo by BILL POTRECZ.
It’s all wrestling, all the time for Samantha, Katelyn and Matteo Romano.
The three Welland siblings have all been highly successful on the mat, beginning with Samantha, who has an impressive collection of accomplishments highlighted by a silver medal at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.
“I always say the Canada Summer Games is probably my favourite tournament I’ve ever done,” said Samantha, a 21-year-old Brock University student. “I’ve competed overseas as well but nothing compared to the Canada Summer Games because it gives you the feeling of the Olympics.
“There are so many different sports you can watch and different provinces. The dual tournament had a really big team aspect to it. It was a little bit different because wrestling is such an individual sport. During the duals, we got the crowd going and got each other excited. It was great.”
Katelyn, an 18-year-old student at Centennial Secondary School in Welland, plans to follow in her older sister’s footsteps next year and attend Brock where she will wrestle and major in psychology.
“Samantha’s a key role model for both of us and so having her go through the big tournaments like the Canada Summer Games, I think that boosts my confidence too a little bit because she talks so highly of it,” Katelyn said.
Katelyn wasn’t able to accompany Samantha in 2017, but has fond recollections of her matches.
“Every time she would wrestle, I would tune into the livestream,” Katelyn said. “It was very nerve-racking. I was very nervous for her.”
Katelyn has high hopes she will be in a position to experience something similar in her own backyard at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.
“I think it would be cool,” she said. “It’s homegrown and I’m super excited to represent Niagara and super excited to have everyone come out and watch.”
The qualifiers have not yet been announced, but Katelyn feels if she does make the cut it would be a huge step forward in her career.
“I’m in the oldest age category next year. I have a little bit of experience with the competition in Canada. It will be interesting to see how it plays out but I’m feeling confident,” she said. “Each province and territory has their own technique and strategies so I think it will be beneficial to me, especially now that I’m going to be entering university and doing university wrestling.”
Matteo, a 16-year-old student at Centennial, also has his sights set on the 2022 Games.
“It would be really cool to have everyone watch me wrestle in the Niagara Region,” he said. “It would be super interesting.”
Samantha, who has hopes of competing in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, will be too old to wrestle at the 2022 Games, but would like to be involved as a coach.
“I’m hoping I can volunteer with the Ontario women’s team and share my knowledge and help coach them too,” she said. “I think it will be amazing. It will be great for the Niagara athletes, the younger junior Badgers, just to come and see where they can be in the future as well.”
In addition to Samantha, Katelyn and Matteo, younger sisters Bianca and Arianna also wrestle. The Romano family moved from Durham two years ago to take advantage of the wrestling culture and coaching in Niagara.
“I can’t even imagine (my life without wrestling),” Katelyn said.
Matteo, who began wrestling in kindergarten, feels the sport offers much more than just wins and losses.
“I think it helps you for your future. You put yourself out there and it helps conquer your fears and just going out there with the feeling that you can do something that other people can’t do,” he said. “I fell in love with the sport.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a crimp in all three of the Romanos’ training.
“We haven’t really had an opportunity to practice as much as usual,” Samantha said. “I was doing two to three practices a day, two of which were wrestling, before COVID. It stopped for a while. It was weird. It was out of routine.”
To compensate, the siblings would test each other out.
“We’d do stuff with each other whenever we were able to, in the backyard or the basement,” Samantha said.
Samantha appreciates being able to work out with Katelyn and Matteo.
“Because they are close in age, they are always there for me, they are always helping me get prepared and cheering me on and making me better. They watch me and then they practice with me. They almost know how to beat me so that gives me that extra challenge.”
- 2020 U SPORTS silver medalist
- 2020 OUA champion
- 2019 Ontario provincial champion
- 2018 Pan American junior national team member
- 2018 Canadian national champion
- 2017 Canada Summer Games silver medalist
- 2017 OFSAA champion
- 2020 OFSAA bronze medalist
- 2020 SOSSA champion
- 2019 Canadian national bronze medallist
- 2019 SOSSA champion
- 2019 OFSAA fourth place
- 2014 and 2015 Eastern Canadian national champion
- 2020 SOSAA silver medalist
- 2020 OFSAA silver medalist
- 2020 Winter Games fourth place