Uncategorized,  WY People,  Wyoming Athletics,  Wyoming Family,  Wyoming Woman & Family Magazine

A Circle of Unstoppable Inspiration from Dubois

Written by Kati Hime, Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine

Images by Adria Trembly, Dubois & Levi Hime, Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine

State Wrestling 2022 — image by Levi Hime

I was sitting in the Ford Wyoming Center (previously known as Casper Events Center) in February 2022, watching the Wyoming High School Activities Association’s State Wrestling for the first time. Our 16-year-old son, Vaughn, was down on the floor, huddled up with his team from Laramie High School. He was proudly sporting his long-sleeved state t-shirt the guys had received for the event, “HIME” emblazoned down one arm, which matched mine sitting up in the stands and Levi’s from his spot on the floor, taking pictures. Looking around me, parents were clad in their own respective team’s tees, familiar colors and mascots dotting the arena. It was easy to spot the sea of names screen-printed onto every available space on the backs of shirts everywhere, as parents leaned forward in rapt attention, elbows resting on knees poised to spring their owner to his/her feet at a moment’s notice.

I had brought a book, which seemed a smart idea at the time. Now sitting in this environment, I realized what a laughable concept that was. I’m no newbie to high school athletics:  our eldest, Autumn, was captain of her LHS Lightning Dance Team her senior year of 2020-21, and we had spent four years at State Spirit, wearing our proud parent maroon tees and cheering on our girl. Before that, I had both coached LHS Cheer and been on the floor myself at state events. Levi was a swimmer at LHS and coached cheer with me later. But sitting here, with my book, I realized I was in a whole new – and electric – atmosphere.

Organized on the floor were nine colorful wrestling mats, where individual matches were in different stages simultaneously. Some were beginning, while others were just wrapping up, and some were in the heat of the battle. Immersing myself in the parent experience at State Wresting, I observed that the passion of the parents matched that of the athletes and coaches. This isn’t unique to athletics, but here it was intense, personal and impressive. You can imagine the waves of cheers, groans, and the all-so-‘helpful’ parents yelling “pin him!” – “get out of that!” – “come on!” … The best word I could think of is ‘cacophony,’ although the definition includes the word ‘harsh,’ which I disagree with. I would use the words intense, raucous, electrifying. You try reading a book here.

Vaughn Hime, Laramie High School — image by Levi Hime
Vaughn Hime — image by Levi Hime

Vaughn had surprised us last year with the announcement he was going to try wrestling. It wasn’t too much of a stretch – he has spent seven years now at Snowy Range Taekwondo, currently a high red belt working on his black belt and teaching little beginners. His favorite competitive event is sparring, and his favorite hobby is weightlifting, so wrestling was a natural progression, I suppose. However, when I offered flyers to all sorts of summertime activities to ten-year-old Vaughn, I suggested wrestling camp – which was met with a firm “Are you kidding me?!” So the announcement was a bit of a surprise.

It was a big but enjoyable learning experience for Vaughn, and our whole family was thrilled with the opportunity to attend State. (As a parent, I’ve always been appreciative of steep learning curve opportunities for the lesson-rich times that will pay dividends in the future.) When Levi found me during a break, he shared that he had met a neat mom from Dubois – Adria Trembly. “She and I had a really nice conversation about how hard these kids are working, and I think she’d be great to interview,” he said. Fortunately for me, not only is Adria passionate about her son Wyatt’s wrestling career, her husband and Wyatt’s father, David, is Dubois High School’s wrestling coach. While I was a newbie parent navigating the intense emotional experience of wrestling, the Trembly family are seasoned pros.

Wyatt Trembly, Dubois HIgh School — image by Adria Trembly

Wyatt, a Student Council Vice-President who is currently in his senior year with a 4.0 GPA at Dubois High School, began wrestling at the age of nine when a local family brought youth wrestling to town. Adria described Wyatt’s first event and win. “We bought him a sweatshirt and took him out to a nice restaurant in Casper,” she said. “I loved yelling in his corner. We had great quality time together as a family, and Wyatt’s confidence grew from there.”

Through the years since, Wyatt has suffered defeats and injuries as well as soared to exciting wins and opportunities. In middle school, Wyatt qualified for Team Wyoming; in ninth grade, Wyatt was a state runner-up in his weight class. However, the past couple of years has brought the family an extra-special opportunity. In 2019 David was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, which added to the challenge of family life, coaching and wrestling. David, who teaches a variety of subjects for Dubois High School ranging from physical education to computer science, also coaches football and track, and told me that “luck brought us to Dubois.” The family loves the small-town atmosphere and close-knit community and school. David has continued to teach and coach throughout his treatments, and his connection with Wyatt and wrestling has helped the family through this tough time. “Wyatt has been with us all through this,” Adria explained. “He’s been a huge help to his dad. His faith and mental attitude are so strong. He never complains. He’s channeled so much energy into his athletics; it’s his outlet.”

Coach David Trembly, Dubois High School — image by Adria Trembly
Wyatt Trembly — image by Adria Trembly

When it came to State Wrestling in 2022, a determined Wyatt used that channeled energy to push him to a first-place win in the 2A 170 pound weight class. In a conversation that mirrored many I have with fellow Wyomingites, we discovered we have a mutual friend: a first-class coach himself, Pete Kaligis, who recently moved from the University of Wyoming’s football program to Washington State University. Pete weighed in on Wyatt’s emotional win in a message Adria said captured it perfectly: “I could see all your frustrations channeled,” Pete told Wyatt. “You were saying, ‘I am not going to lose this match.’” Adria paused a second before adding, “Wyoming is full of people like [Pete].” (Author’s side note:  100% agree.)

Watching Wyatt celebrate that first-place win with David was a moment Adria will remember forever. “The emotion was so incredible. I’ll never take those pictures off my phone,” she said with a little emotion in her voice.

Image by Adria Trembly
David & Wyatt Trembly — image by Adria Trembly
Sammie Cyrus – image by Adria Trembly

Dubois High School is the home of another amazing wrestler, Sammie Cyrus. A double amputee adaptive wrestler, Sammie was an inspiration for Levi and I to watch in action. Sammie was also an inspiration to Vaughn, who asked us after State, “Did you see that kid from Dubois? That was so cool to watch!”

Adria introduced me to Sammie’s mom, Kelly Cyrus, and after learning Sammie and his parents’ story, I’d like to amend my “inspirational” description of Sammie to “unstoppably inspirational.” At 10 months old, Sammie contracted Niseria Meningococcemia, a rare form of meningitis. “The infection took over his circulatory system, turned his body black and severely affected the growth plates in his legs,” Kelly explained. The family received care at Denver Children’s Hospital for skin debridement and grafts on his legs, as well as treatment for the long-term effects on his growth plates, which would “…turn on and off at will,” Kelly explained. “When {they} were {in} the off stages his body would continue to feed calcium to them, and in turn his joints would calcify.” This led to pain and difficulty performing normal daily activities for a then four-year-old, such as running, jumping and playing.

Sammie Cyrus – image by Adria Trembly

An initial amputation consultation in Denver suggested taking the leg above the knee, an option with which Sammie’s parents were not comfortable. Through a second amputation opinion with Shriner’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, the family chose to amputate one foot at the ankle. On September 1, 2011, Sammie’s first foot was amputated, and by Halloween, he had his first prosthetic. “Sammie was up and running around in no time,” Kelly said.

At the age of eight, Sammie’s continued pain in his other foot led to much missed school and Sammie’s request to amputate his second foot. “It was on one of {those missed school} days that Sammie sat me down and explained how he was feeling and how he just couldn’t do it anymore,” Kelly said. “The next thing he said was, ‘Mom, I know this is hard for you but I’m ready. Please call the doctor and schedule me for surgery.’ Even though it hurt to hear those words, I did what he asked.” On January 5, 2016, Sammie’s second foot was amputated. “{T}wo months later he was back up and walking around on two legs, pain free for the first time in years,” Kelly said. “Sammie didn’t know what a life without pain was before that.”

Sammie became unstoppable, Kelly said. “He has no limits and there is nothing an able body person can do that Sammie won’t at least try.” Kelly shared how she received a call from the school one day – Sammie’s foot had broken off the bottom of his brand new leg. “I asked how it happened, and Sammie said, ‘Well all the other kids were jumping off the monkey bars so I thought I could too,’ and he did.”

Sammie Cyrus – image by Levi Hime
Sammie Cyrus — image by Levi Hime

At the age of eight Sammie started snowboarding with Teton Adaptive Sports, boarding every weekend for four years. Still a passion, Sammie discovered wrestling in sixth grade, replacing some time on the hill with time on the mat. Wrestling was a challenge but obsession for Sammie, where he relished the individual nature of the sport, testing one’s ability to be strong and quick. When Coach David Trembly, then at USA Wrestling in Dubois, noticed Sammie’s natural drive and talent, he wanted to help. Eager to learn what he could, in Sammie’s seventh grade year David reached out to the coaches of Hassan Hawthorne, a double amputee adaptive wrestler who was then at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, asking for coaching advice. Hassan made the trip to Dubois to spend one-on-one time with David and Sammie. “He showed Sammie moves he could do from the ground, how to start and stand in neutral, and the best way to get out when you’re on the bottom,” Kelly said. “He explained to Sammie that most of his power is going to come from his arms and hands and how to build those muscles. He learned that hard work, determination, practice and patience with himself will eventually pay off.” Hassan became Sammie’s wrestling mentor. “It truly made Sammie feel like if Hassan can do it and be a state champion, then he can too.”

Sammie Cyrus & opponent after the match — image by Levi Hime

Today, Sammie keeps in touch with Hassan, messaging him before and after competition days. “It’s a pretty awesome friendship these two have developed, and it truly is thanks to the Tremblys,” Kelly said. Hassan shares videos and posts about Sammie on his own Instagram page. Sammie, in turn, inspires other adaptive wrestlers. “I have other moms reach out to me who have watched videos of Sammie online and tell me how their child who is an amputee has taken to wrestling because of {him},” Kelly said. He also inspires wrestlers of all types. “Sammie has told me that there are some kids who come up to him while he is wrestling and tell him that he is the reason they wrestle and haven’t given up.” When he won fourth place in his state bracket his freshman year in Casper (2022), his parents were touched by the response from the entire Ford Center as their son took the podium. “{It} was absolutely incredible,” Kelly said.

For me, researching and writing this story gives me goosebumps. When my son decided to suddenly venture into wrestling, I had no clue I would be cheering him on at the Ford Center on that cold February Saturday nearly a year ago. I had no clue Levi would be on the floor taking pictures and given the opportunity to be inspired by Sammie. He had no clue he’d happen to meet Adria Trembly, whose son and husband developed a love of wrestling together, which would give Sammie the opportunity to learn and be inspired by an amazing athlete like Hassan Hawthorne – and how Sammie, Wyatt, David, Adria and Kelly are now serving as inspirations to many around the state – like me, Levi and especially our Vaughn. Pretty cool circle, when you think about it.

Sammie Cyrus & David Trembly — image by Adria Trembly

“Sammie is an ambassador for wrestling,” Adria said.

“{Hassan’s inspiration to Sammie} just goes to show what great coaches David Trembly and his wife are,” Kelly said. “They didn’t have to go out of their way to try and help Sam but they did – and that speaks volumes.”

Athletics and competition aside, David, Adria and Wyatt all shared that one of the best elements of wrestling in Wyoming is the friendships formed along the way and good sportsmanship they have experienced. “It’s so neat that Wyatt is a 2A athlete but will wrestle kids from Sheridan, Cheyenne, Casper,” David said. “He’s made friends throughout the state.”

David & Wyatt Trembly — image by Adria Trembly

Wyatt aspires to play football or wrestle in college. He’d like to attend the University of Wyoming and hopes to become a doctor. He’s a neat kid with a strong work ethic who has a bright future ahead of him. It was a joy to interview Wyatt and learn how his love of family and hard work is at the core of everything he does. I’m excited for what his future has in store for him. Sammie, too, has a bright future. He’s hoping to land a college wrestling scholarship, with a dream of attending Penn State, Ohio State or any other D1 Big 10 school. He hopes to earn a degree in arts and graphic design and animate games and TV shows. He’d also enjoy developing a camp for adaptive wrestlers of all types where they could learn and love the sport as he does.

Want to check out Wyoming’s amazing wrestling community? (Wintry party bonus – it’s an inside sport!) Stay tuned to the Wyoming High School Activities Association’s website (whsaa.org) for information on tournaments including this month’s regionals and state tourneys and much, much more about Wyoming’s strong athletic programs. All of Wyoming’s kids deserve great fans in their corner!

Coach David Trembly, Dubois High School — image by Adria Trembly