Rachel Watters receives Jim Wade Award for women's wrestling at Oklahoma City University

By Oklahoma City University | April 09, 2020, 3:09 p.m. (ET)
Rachel Watters guzzled her soda in February like she had after every tournament she has wrestled in since she was a sophomore in high school.

But as Watters gulped her Mountain Dew at the Cracker Barrel in Marietta, Ga., she downed her pop for the first time as a national champion.

Watters celebrated with her father and teammates after winning the 155-pound national championship in the Women's College Wrestling Association Championships on Feb. 7-8. Watters took the fourth all-American nod of her career.

In 2019-20, Watters picked up the Jim Wade Award for Oklahoma City University women's wrestling. In addition to her national crown, Watters snared the 155-pound Sooner Athletic Conference title, SAC wrestler of the year and outstanding wrestler of the inaugural SAC women's championships Feb. 29 in Plainview, Texas. Watters became USA Wrestling/TheMat.com athlete of the week, NAIA wrestler of the week and two-time SAC wrestler of the week as a senior.

Watters went undefeated as a senior, going 15-0. Watters finished her career with a 67-10 record and 36 technical-fall wins. She earned five World Team berths as well as runner-up in the 2019 Pan American Championships, 2018 U.S. Open and 2016 Bill Farrell Invitational during her wrestling career.

"I have seen many of my teammates win the Jim Wade Award in the past, and I am glad that the athletic staff believes that I embody what the Jim Wade Award represents," Watters said.

The SAC Championships marked the end of Watters' senior season. Watters saw her season cut short on the eve of the NAIA Invitational on March 12. The Stars had weighed in to compete in Jamestown, N.D.

"I was sad that nationals got cancelled, but I realized that there is nothing I can do about it," Watters said. "This mindset allowed me to be grateful for the opportunities I did get in my career. I am looking back on the good times. I will always need to know how to roll with the punches in my life."

Watters has taken the next step in her wrestling career by securing a graduate assistant position coaching at William Penn (Iowa). Watters, from Ankeny, Iowa, will attain her degree from OCU in marketing this spring. During her services marketing class, she decided her future would be in coaching during a project where she developed a service.

"My project was of course wrestling-based, and I had a heart to heart with one of my professors about how wrestling is my passion," Watters said. "I had a light-bulb moment and realized that I could use all my skills from business school and bring them to the wrestling realm.

"Education has always and will always be very important to me. My passion is wrestling, but in student-athlete, student comes first, and my education has always been my first priority. Being a wrestler doesn't last forever so when that time ends for me, I am glad that have an amazing education from the Meinders School of Business, and that I will be continuing my passion for wrestling and my education in the fall as a graduate assistant."

Watters appreciates athletic trainers Amanda Harbaugh, Mikayla Moore and Randal Snider as well as her professors for impacting her time at OCU.

"Mikayla, Randal and Amanda did so many amazing things to keep me on the mat," Watters said. "My professors were amazing in working with me when I had to go to events overseas and had to miss a lot of school. I was grateful that they understood my dream and worked with me. I also had multiple coaches leave lasting impacts on my life. If it wasn't for the coaches I had at OCU, I probably wouldn't be so sure about wanting to coach."

About the Jim Wade Awards

The annual Jim Wade Awards recognize those Stars who best represent OCU and reflect Wade's spirit as the student-athletes of the year. Each OCU team chose its 2019-20 Wade Award winner, who will each be spotlighted on the OCU athletics Web site.

Gen. Jim Wade competed for Oklahoma City as a baseball, basketball and football student-athlete before becoming a trustee to the university, OCU Athletics Hall of Famer and one of the most prominent benefactors and supporters of the athletic department.

Wade attained the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force. Wade became decorated for service in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He flew 55 missions in Korea. His list of citations includes the Order of the Sword, Legion of Merit Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Gold Palm and Combat Readiness Award. These are the first Jim Wade Awards since Wade died in November.