Hive athlete Jenna Burkert started paving the way for women’s wrestling at six years old. Today, women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing high school sports, but when Jenna first began competition in the sport almost 20 years ago, she was one of the only girls. Jenna shares with us her love of wrestling and her experience being a female in a male-dominated sport.
What disciplines are offered for wrestlers, and which do you compete in?
There are currently three Olympic styles. Men’s freestyle, Men’s Greco, and Women’s Freestyle, which I compete in. Wrestling is a weight class sport, and I wrestle at 59kgs. We have ten weight classes for the World Championships and 6 for the Olympics.
How did you get into wrestling?
I started wrestling when I was six years old. I remember picking up a flier in the first grade, and this boy ripped it out of my hand and said, “You can’t do that, you’re a girl!” I said, “Oh yeah, watch me!” Of course, it took some convincing of my parents, but eventually they gave in. I remember my mother talking to me and saying, “Jenna, you’ll be the only girl,” to which I replied, “So, what’s your point?” The rest is history.
Why do you compete?
I compete because I am still having fun. I still love it. I’ve been wrestling 19 years, and I am still learning and evolving. That’s what keeps me coming back.
What has it been like to be one of the few girls in the sport?
Growing up in a male-dominated sport certainly wasn’t the easiest, but it made me tougher. I grew up when there wasn’t female wrestling in Long Island, NY. My parents would drive me all over the country so I could wrestle the best. I would only face girls in competitions maybe three times a year.
How has that changed over the years?
Now female wrestling is actually the fastest growing sport in the world. At this level, I only wrestle women. However, the US doesn’t have as large of numbers, so some states still have high school girls wrestling guys.
What goal(s) do you have for the future?
My wrestling goal is to be a World and Olympic Champion. Professionally I want to become a school counselor and an autism advocate.
What is one of your most memorable competitions?
One of my most memorable competitions was the Military World Championships in Lithuania. I don’t think I have ever laughed that hard. We had to share a bunk room with all of our competitors from other countries. From the language barriers and different customs, to literally sleeping next to your opponent, it definitely made for a memorable trip.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to pass on to young female wrestlers and athletes?
Keep doing what you love, have fun, and believe in yourself.
What is your favorite Honey Stinger product and flavor?
Honey Stinger waffles are wrestlers’ favorites, many of my teammates are always trying to steal mine. My favorite waffle flavor is the Gluten Free Vanilla & Chocolate.
When do you use Honey Stinger in competition and training?
I use Honey Stinger waffles during my competition day, which typically includes multiple matches a day. Between matches, I eat the waffles because they fill me up, but aren’t too heavy. In training I use it as my snack right before my second workout.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
My superpower would be the ability to read minds. I am a super candid person, so I’m always looking for what people are actually thinking.
Hailing from Rocky Point, NY, Jenna Rose Burkert, 25, now lives in Colorado Springs, CO, where she works and trains for wrestling competitions. She joined the military in 2015 and is a part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. She is a Youth Olympian, 3-time Junior World Team Member, Senior World Team Member, and National Champion.
Keep up with Jenna Burkert
Jenna Burkert a Shining Example of Expanded Opportunities for Women in Wrestling
Take 10 with 2017 Senior Nationals Champion Jenna Burkert
Jenna Burkert wins World Team Trials Challenge Tournament at 59 kg, advances to Final X