The Wrestling Musician


Posted Tue, Nov 5, 2013

“There’s the whole stigma that girls are wimpy and can’t really be tough like guys.” -- Owens says. [Photo provided by Kelsey Owens]

“There’s the whole stigma that girls are wimpy and can’t really be tough like guys.” — Kelsey Owens [Photo provided by Kelsey Owens]

DENVER—In high school, teenagers are often grouped and labeled as jocks, nerds, choir geeks, drama geeks, preps, and many others. Enter Kelsey Owens, who fit almost all of these categories. Owens attended Smoky Hill High School and was in the International Baccalaureate program for all four years.

“It’s an international standard of college prep courses, which were honestly more vigorous than the actual college courses that I took,” she explains.

Owens sung in choir and took many solo opportunities to showcase her voice. In drama club she acted in a few minor plays, but worked as a techie backstage. But perhaps the most interesting part of her high school career was what placed her in the jock category. She was a wrestler.

“My mom wanted me to do a sport, and girls were bitchy, so I was like f**k this shit. I’m wrestling. Just because all of you said that I can’t. And I proved them all wrong.”

It helped that Owens had two brothers who were also wrestlers.

“My biggest motivation was that I wanted to do something that everyone said that I couldn’t do, and I stuck with it,” she says.

Owens wrestled all four years of high school, and her senior year she wrestled on the varsity team. Owens was the only girl on the wrestling team and one of very few girl wrestlers in Colorado.

“There’s the whole stigma that girls are wimpy and can’t really be tough like guys,” Owens says. “There’s also the stigma that girls who go out for wrestling are there to get guys attention and that’s true in some cases but it wasn’t in mine.”

Owens had to put up with a lot of negative attitudes from both coaches and boys that she had to wrestle. “A lot of the coaches did not like the fact that I was a girl wrestling, both from my own school and from others,” Owens says. “My head coach had been coaching for over 40 years, and he had a couple of girls come in to wrestle. He was very big on the fact that girls could wrestle other girls, but this was a guy’s sport. But as he saw that I could dish it out in practice as well as take it, he became one of my most avid supporters. He even got a little teary eyed when I graduated.

“If I won they would cry,” Owens says. “They would refuse to shake my hand after the match. Coaches would refuse to shake my hand too. I remember this one match against a Chaparral kid, and he was fighting dirty. He was choking me and he bit me at one point. He was being ridiculous, and he was stalling and had a whole bunch of penalty points against him. I won and the coach was livid. The kid refused to shake my hand and the coach refused to shake my hand.”

Despite these negative attitudes, Owens had a lot of positive experiences while being a wrestler. “My senior year I wrestled varsity and got the coach’s choice award. It was called the heart of the buffalo. It’s supposed to be the person who has the most spirit when going out there and wrestling. I had some coaches from other teams that would come up to me and say that you have so much heart when you go out there and wrestle. I wish half my guys would go out there and give that every time they wrestle.”

Owens didn’t continue wrestling in college, but instead focused on her musical talent. She attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln Neb.. “I originally started studying music and political science, with a focus on international Law,” Owens says. “However, I ended up just focusing on music so that I could graduate on time.” Owens sings as well as plays the guitar and the piano.

Rebecca Thompson, a friend of Owens for 13 years says, “She’s very artistically inclined, incredibly muscly talented, she’s phenomenal at everything art related.”

Owens says, “Going into studying music, I was very reluctant to follow that. I know that music is not a lucrative career. Music is a hard life, but it can also be a very fulfilling life. In an idealistic world, I would like to have a job that is entrepreneurial based that I can attend to while being on the road. That would allow me to travel and play shows and sing.”

Owens writes two genres of music. She creates instrumental music with full orchestrations, which has a mix of strings, woodwinds and sometimes piano and percussion. “They have a sound that is very similar to a lot of videogame music. Modal and slightly minimalistic. I would love to write videogame music. What I wants is to create music that has specific themes and motives that has life to it and adds to the game.”

The other music Owens writes is singer songwriter music. “It’s kind of like acoustic rock, but has an edge to it. There is a mix of jazz and blues influences on the tonality of the music. But when it comes down to it — it’s just me and my guitar. It’s a little bare bones.”

“Her voice range is impeccable, the deep alto tenor, but she can still build it up to soprano,” Thompson says. “It’s a very broad range. She does sometimes channel a little Kate Nash in her music. She has mostly been self-taught in her instruments, honing the natural skill that she has.”

“I love her music,” says Bobby Graham, a friend of eight years. She is always sending me and the rest of her friends her new songs. I really wish should would put more of her music online though, make Youtube videos. Anything to really try and get her voice out there. She’s honestly a little afraid I think.”

Kelsey writes music about being in love, ex-boyfriends, best friends and people that inspire her. “I have even written songs about people going through breakups upon their request,” Owens says.

“We both seem to share this ability to attract guys with a lot of issues,” Graham says. “She uses her music to vent about it, and I use my writing in the same way.”

“Kelsey is one of the most genuine people I have ever met in my life,” Thompson says. “Just everything about her, in work in school in the way she relates to people. She is a sensitive soul. I feel like sometimes she gets her feelings hurt easily and feels things very deeply and takes things to heart that don’t really need to be. She is a hopeless romantic. In relationships she finds the fixer uppers. Damaged goods. She tries to see the good in everyone even if it’s not there.”


Check out a few of Kelsey Owens’ songs at\fycco


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About Robert Crew

Robert Crew is a Denver-area freelance writer.

View all posts by Robert Crew

3 Responses to “The Wrestling Musician”

  1. Liz DeLuna Says:

    Great article Robert. I would’ve added a few things to the article like her career aspirations or notable venues/festivals she’s played in. (That of course is the entertainment publicist in me though!) You have the tendency to document your subject’s personality very well! Great job!


  2. Keve Brockington Says:

    Very good article.You portrayed a great image of how this person influences many people.


  3. Luke Whittaker Says:

    Great quotes, love the picture and what a genuinely interesting person!


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