Rayome shaking the hand of her opponent before her match. (Courtesy of Kamile Rayome)
Rayome shaking the hand of her opponent before her match. (Courtesy of Kamile Rayome)

From the Pool to the Mat

Wrestler Kamile Rayome breaks gender barriers in wrestling and NROTC

For much of her life, senior Kamile Rayome was a swimmer. But when the Covid lockdown took her out of the pool, she realized that she no longer found any enjoyment in swimming. 

As soon as Covid restrictions were lifted, Rayome tried wrestling for the first time. She saw this as a chance to prove herself to others, a way to show that she could do something challenging and that she wasn’t a quitter. 

Being a girl in a male-dominated sport has its challenges, but Rayome has also found that female wrestling has significantly grown just since she joined. 

When she joined the wrestling team, she was one of two girls on the co-ed team. Meaning she went to the team duals where LFHS wrestled one other team, which included the boys tournaments and three girls tournaments. 

“I personally made the choice to wrestle boys because I very quickly realized that was really the only way to make sure I got a significant amount of matches,” said Rayome.

This is not the case anymore, and now it is much easier for girls to get the same amount of matches as boys in wrestling.

Rayome after winning a match. (Courtesy of Kamile Rayome)

Not only did Rayome face being significantly out muscled by the boys as a new wrestler, but she would occasionally get weird looks before matches. Other than that, she was mostly treated the same once people realized she was there for the same reason as everyone else. 

Her sophomore and junior year, she was surrounded by the support of Naomi Miles, the first All-State girls wrestler in school history and Annika Cottam, the second girls All-State wrestler at Lake Forest.

“Naomi being on the team gave me that confirmation that I needed that girls could actually be on the team and although she was injured and out for most of the season she was so supportive of me,” said Rayome. “When she qualified for state it made my goals and dreams feel that much more real and attainable if I put in the work and followed in her footsteps.” 

Rayome’s sophomore year was the very first year of an IHSA sanctioned girls state tournament, and just this year they added regionals into the girls wrestling program. 

Overall, Rayome has had huge success throughout her entire wrestling career including placing in tournaments multiple times and being selected as a Senior Varsity Captain. Just this past weekend, Rayome placed 3rd at Regionals and qualified for Sectionals. 

Rayome on the 3rd place podium at regionals. (Courtesy of Kamile Rayome)

Although Rayome is extremely dedicated to the sport and puts in the effort to place, she’s not looking for wrestling to be her main focus next year in college. 

“She’s super hardworking and dedicated to everything she does, including wrestling,” said friend of Rayome’s, senior Meghan Pierce. 

Academics are also a big part of Kamile’s high school career. She not only excels on the mat, but also in the classroom. 

“As a person Kamile is a dependable athlete and student, I see it day in and day out at practice but what is nice is that on multiple occasions I have had teachers reach out to me and share how great of a student she is in the classroom as well,” said Varsity Wrestling Coach Nick Kramer. “There are few people who have the full package of being a great athlete, student and overall person but she excels in all three of these areas.”

As the daughter of a 23-year Marine serving dad, not only is Rayome very used to the military lifestyle, but she has found the many benefits that are included in military involvement and has been looking into NROTC herself. 

I personally made the choice to wrestle boys because I very quickly realized that was really the only way to make sure I got a significant amount of matches

— Kamile Rayome

The Naval Reserve Officer Training Corp (NROTC) is a program to train students throughout their college career so that once they graduate they can serve as commissioned officers in the Navy. 

NROTC is not easy to join. There are certain requirements, including a fitness assessment which includes a timed mile, plank and push-up to be considered. 

When Rayome isn’t in the main stretch of wrestling season, she puts in the work and time to be able to meet the requirements of joining NROTC wherever she ends up for college. 

“I see myself being pushed and growing as a person through this path and I am already really looking forward to it,” said Rayome. 

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