Jane poses with her son, Corbin, after he was voted most valuable wrestler at the TVC meet his senior year
Photo courtesy of: Jane Boney
Wrestlers compete during a recent dual match
Photo courtesy of: Jane Boney
Mar 7, 2011
By Dave Talmage
Classified employee Jane Boney is a self-proclaimed wrestling fanatic, whose passion has helped revamp the sport locally through the creation of the Southern Ohio Youth Wrestling League.
Boney's love for the sport started with her husband, Todd, and her son, Corbin. Todd, a former high school state qualifier in wrestling, helped start a youth wrestling team in Nelsonville. Corbin began wrestling on the team and eventually became a Junior Olympic wrestler and a state qualifier. He also was a four-time Tri-Valley Conference champion and was voted the league's Most Valuable Wrestler as a senior.
As Boney attended wrestling meets, she said she began to notice that the old saying, "Wrestling is a poor man's sport," wasn't really the case anymore. Wrestling was actually becoming quite expensive.
Most teams participated in a couple of big tournaments each year that left parents having to pay for gas, an entry fee, food and more, while waiting hours to see their child wrestle once or twice. She said the parents complained about the meets and the money they were spending.
"I had parents approach me and say why don't we do duel meets and try to get more kids to wrestle from other schools," Boney said.
Eventually, she decided to do something about it. At her son's meets, Boney reached out to coaches for their youth coaches’ contact information. She set up one-on-one dual wrestling meets, enabling two teams to wrestle together anytime throughout the season. The result was shorter meets and more wrestling opportunities for the kids.
Boney said the thought was that the big style tournament meets have become too long and expensive, limiting how many times a wrestler can compete.
"Kids need to be active in something," Boney said. "We give kids more opportunities to wrestle and allow parents who might not have been able to afford going to the big tournaments a chance to see what the sport is like."
When OHIO Wrestling Coach Joel Greenlee got wind of Boney's project, he jumped on board, offering assistance to the fledgling league since its creation in 2005. One of his biggest contributions is planning the annual championship tournament that takes place in the Convocation Center.
"If it wasn't for Joel Greenlee and the OHIO wrestling team, the league would not be where it is today," Boney said.
From the beginning, Greenlee knew that Boney had a passion for helping the kids and wrestling in southern Ohio.
"She (Jane) was super passionate about wrestling and really had no real reason to start the league other than for the love of the sport and the kids coming up," Greenlee said.
Over the past six years, the league has experienced enormous success, granting wrestling opportunities to hundreds of up-and-coming athletes in southern Ohio. This year, the league had 12 teams with athletes ranging from preschool to sixth grade.
Though Boney has never held an actual job title in the league, she said she considers herself its administrator and does everything from calling coaches and organizing meets to hosting league meetings.
Despite her love for the sport, struggles during past year have put a damper on Boney's efforts. Her husband's National Guard unit was deployed to Iraq in December and she's nursing a shoulder injury that kept her from helping in the final tournament of the season.
But seeing the impact of the league on the area's youth already has her looking forward to next season.
"When I have a mom bring up their kid to take a picture with me with his trophy and the kid is smiling from ear to ear, that makes my day more than anything," Boney said. "This whole thing is about the kids. It's not about me. It's not about the coaches or the Convocation Center. It's about the kids."