Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member Vivian Hayes, a member of the Bourassa Family, is new to high school wrestling, but she has already begun to make her mark in the sport.

Hayes, a 16-year-old sophomore who lives in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, said she first took an interest in wrestling during her freshman year at Tecumseh High School.

“I got interested by one of my close friends,” Hayes said. “She convinced me to go to practice.”

Hayes began wrestling that year but said she focused on other sports during the summer. However, she “put it over everything” her sophomore year because her first season had not gone as well as she wanted.

“I started to stay after practice and practice with our middle school and go to other school rooms and clubs when I could,” she said. “My love and motivation grew as my success grew.”

Her work paid off, and during her sophomore year, she placed fourth in her weight class at Girls East Regional Tournament in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Hayes and fellow Tecumseh sophomore Trinity Rakestraw both qualified for state at that tournament.

It was the first time Tecumseh female wrestlers qualified to go to state under a regional format.

“It makes me proud to know we did something no one else from this school had done before,” Hayes said, adding that she would love to see more girls in the program.

Though she confessed she dealt with a lack of confidence in herself at times during the season, she said winning her first match at regionals helped.

“It was like a confidence boost. The whole time, I just knew I needed to give it my all no matter what to get where I wanted to be,” said Hayes.

She focuses on pushing herself to place at state and even becoming state champion

“Overall, I just want to be the best wrestler I can be and never cut myself short,” she said.

Hayes also plays varsity for Tecumseh’s fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball teams. Her parents, Mike and Casey Hayes, are happy for her and proud of her work ethic.

“The fact that she’s not afraid of the work speaks volumes about her,” Mike said. “She’s learned from a very young age with fast-pitch that if you put in the work, you’ll see results.”

The fast-pitch team was runner-up at state both years Hayes has played, and the slow-pitch team qualified for state Hayes’ freshman year.