By Steve Powell
MARYSVILLE – Many families wrestle with what to do on vacation.
It’s not a major decision for the White family. They wrestle on vacation.
Craig, Andie, Cayden and Alivia White have immersed themselves in the sport of wrestling for the past dozen years or so. They have vacationed in places like Fargo, North Dakota, and Tulsa, Oklahoma so the kids could compete in huge wrestling tournaments.
And it’s paid off for them. Not only are they a close family, but Cayden and Alivia both recently were state champions at the 3A competition at the Tacoma Dome.
Their mom, Andie, is actually Alivia’s coach at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
Cayden, a senior, started wrestling in the third grade. He had been playing peewee football, and one of the dads, Brandon Davis, talked him into giving wrestling a try. He was on club teams for years, then wrestled for Cedarcrest Middle School.
“I struggled going to practice when I was little, but I never quit,” he said.
At M-P, he was an alternate to state as a freshman, was fifth as a sophomore, second last year and now the champion. He went through a growth spurt and spent hours and hours lifting weights as he went from 138 to 170 pounds.
Finishing runner-up was a big motivator. “I pushed myself harder,” he said.
Cayden said he has an advantage over his opponents because he wrestles year-round, has had a number of coaches who have taught him different things, and has been to numerous camps and tournaments all over the nation, so he has knowledge others don’t. He can be the aggressor or make counter moves, depending on his foe.
Despite all of his success, Cayden is humble in his approach. He won’t free up his opponent just to run up the score.
“I’ll make it quick,” he said.
Cayden likes to wrestle coaches and try new things during practices.
“I don’t mind losing in the practice room,” he said, because it makes him better for live matches.
Alivia, a freshman, started wrestling soon after Cayden did. When she started there were few girl wrestlers so she went up against boys during the club years. At Cedarcrest, she started wrestling other girls.
Alivia said she is very flexible, thanks to being in gymnastics and cheerleading. That helps her on the mat, along with being quick.
She said her brother has helped her a lot with her technique, which is so important in wrestling as you are battling people your own size. She also listens to her coaches.
“But the match is what I make of it. They can’t do it for me,” she said. “I can do moves not many others can do.”
Alivia said wrestling teaches good lessons. “Perseverance,” she said. “Wrestling is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, sport.”
She said she and Cayden are very competitive. “We always push each other,” Alivia said.
Andie, who works for Boeing, never wrestled but last year became head girls coach at M-P. All her knowledge she picked up from watching wrestling over the years – and not just her own kids.
“I love it so much. I can sit in a gym and watch wrestling all day long,” she said.
She also learned a lot from watching other coaches, especially longtime M-P coach Craig Iverson. Last year they practiced at the same time, and he would help her. This year he retired from coaching boys and helped her coach the girls.
Andie said her kids wrestled all the time when they were little. “I wish we had mats in the living room,” she said.
Craig, who works in law enforcement, said of wrestling that the family got “so hooked on it, it became part of our life.”
They traveled all over Washington and when Cayden made the national team in the eighth grade they went to Indianapolis. Then when Alivia started, “She really took after it.”
They bought a motor home and, “We feed the team out of it.”
Craig said as parents they never tried to have their kids cut weight.
“We don’t want them to starve themselves to death,” he said.
Craig said they planned their vacations around nationals. One year they were in Indianapolis, and Cayden had to catch a flight to Sea-Tac then drive with an assistant coach to Pocatello, Idaho. While there they got to spend some family time at Yellowstone National Park.
It was on their trip to Fargo that Cayden was recruited by Minot State University, where he will wrestle next year.
Cayden said he’s close to his family, but thinks the distance will be good for him.
“I can be on my own. If I was closer I’d probably want to come home more,” he said, adding he wants to be an engineer.
His parents said they will miss watching him wrestle all the time, but they will attend a few matches in Minot and also when they are away at places like Las Vegas.
The Whites still will be able to watch Alivia for a few more years at M-P. She’s also hoping for a wrestling scholarship.
“There’s already been interest,” Craig said, adding they didn’t realize she was just a freshman.