Perseverance: The story of Shyann Ronning

Photo by Mike Dickie: Freshman women’s wrestler Shyann Ronning competing at the Bulldog Invitational in October 2018

At Adrian College, student athletes can continue to play their sport either as a “club” sport or in the realm of the NCAA. Women’s wrestling is one such sport, and its groundbreaking status has helped put AC on the national map. Just this year, the Bulldog Women wrestlers placed 16th at the WCWA National Championships in Marietta, Ga., the team’s best finish in its history.

One of the wrestler that helped accomplish such a feat was freshman Shyann Ronning, who wrestles in the 130 pound weight class. However, before committing to Adrian and battling her wrestling foes on the mat, Ronning was already dealing with a personal battle of her own.

During her sophomore year of high school, Ronning started focusing on preparing to join Manistee’s school wrestling team. She wanted to make sure she was in the best shape possible before the season started, so she started a strict nutrition and exercise plan in order to stay on track. However, these fitness goals, combined with the constant body shaming that happens all too often in today’s high schools, caused the plan to spiral out of control.

“I ended up working out three to five times a day,” says Ronning, “and my caloric intake couldn’t keep up with all of the fat I was burning off.”

Eventually, this dangerous pattern caused Ronning to develop anorexia, an eating disorder surrounding a person’s need for an extremely thin body image, usually obtained by starvation or constant exercise. Her condition grew worse over time, becoming dangerously thin and constantly being pulled out of school due to sickness associated with the disorder.

Ronning’s family couldn’t bear to see her suffer any longer, so they admitted her to Forest View, a psychiatric treatment center in Grand Rapids, to try and get outside help for her anorexia. However, Ronning points out that Forest View wasn’t the main factor that came to overcoming her anorexia. Continued support from her family and her goal of wanting to become a college wrestler ultimately inspired her to push beyond the disorder and get accepted to Adrian College.

“Adrian giving me shot for wrestling turned my life around in a big way,” says Ronning. “The opportunity they gave me to continue my wrestling career helped me further overcome my disorder and help me set even higher aspirations for the future.”

Today, Ronning continues to wrestle under the Bulldog banner, and aspires to one day use her exercise science degree to open her own gym for K-12 students, creating specially design workout and nutrition plans for her members.

“I know plenty of kids that don’t eat because they’re afraid to be overweight or are so worried about what they look like,” says Ronning. “I hope to use my gym to teach kids the proper way to become healthy, and not go through the same struggles that I had when I was younger.”

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