WAVERLY — Felicity Taylor stood in the middle of the wrestling room and watched as elementary to middle school to high school aged girls’ circled her.
The longer Taylor stood taking in that scene, the bigger her smile got.
Perhaps the most highly decorated female wrestler to come out of the state Iowa, Taylor was back home last week from McKendree University, where the former South Winneshiek prep has continued her winning ways.
Taylor, a freshman, is already the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the latest WCWA rankings for the top-ranked Bearcats.
But last Thursday at the Waverly-Shell Rock middle school wrestling room during a Waverly Area Wrestling Club girls’ practice, it wasn’t about Taylor, the 100-plus career victories she recorded against boys during her standout prep career, her women’s junior national freestyle title or her appearance at the Junior Pan-Am Games.
On this night, Taylor was giving back.
“Getting asked to come here and give back, it is awesome,” said Taylor, who won her first two collegiate tournaments for the Bearcats. “It is such an honor that they’d want me to come back. It’s great that they see me as a role model.”
There were more than a dozen girls practicing at the Waverly-Shell Rock girls’ club practice with Taylor.
While her focus has been helping McKendree compete first for an NWCA National Duals title in Louisville, Ky. on Jan. 4-5, and then for a WCWA national championship in Atlanta, Ga., on Feb. 8-9, Taylor has been keeping a keen eye on what is happening with women’s wrestling at the prep level back in Iowa.
She was excited to hear of the first ever dual between Waverly-Shell Rock and Charles City that took place on Dec. 6. And when she heard of a potential girls’ state tournament, her excitement grew.
“I’m so happy for these girls and the opportunities they are starting to receive,” Taylor said. “It is not something that I or Cassy Herkelman or Rachel Watters ... the faces of women’s wrestling in Iowa ... we didn’t get these opportunities.
“I think a state tournament ... I think it will encourage more girls to go out, because they will have something to work toward.
“In high school that is the goal, to win a state championship. If the girls get that, it will encourage more to come out.”