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SSAE Staff Member Champions for Athletes

Some would say it was like David taking on Goliath. Japan is known internationally as a powerhouse in women’s wrestling, and the sport is just beginning to gain traction in the United States. American wrestler Jacarra Winchester, who trains at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, made a statement last September when she defeated a Japanese wrestler to win a world championship in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

By Winchester’s side to help celebrate the victory was one of her coaches, Vladislav Izboinikov, best known as Izzy, who also serves as the High Performance Program (HPP) administrator at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence in D49. A coach to Olympic hopefuls, Izzy knows the challenges of training 20 or more hours a week as an elite athlete while managing academics.

Izzy and SSAE leadership have created a partnership with the Olympic Training Center and other local high performance organizations to provide a structure that enables athletes to train and compete in the best facilities, while offering an environment that gives athletes the flexibility to earn a high school diploma. SSAE offers unlimited educational options with in-person, online and blended learning coursework.

The High Performance Program serves student-athletes who compete in wrestling, ice hockey, gymnastics, dance, rodeo, swimming and more. “Having a crazy, busy schedule is not easy and trying to fit in a full day of school is nearly impossible to do,” shared Kylie Welker, tenth-grader and wrestling athlete at SSAE. “With Springs Studio I am able to train 15 hours a week at the OTC and do all the school necessary.”
Izzy works directly with families to build and monitor each student’s academic program. Many parents are grateful for the individual attention. “The HPP at Springs Studio is second to none in making students feel cared for and supported,” commented Kristina Shoun, parent of gymnast Ariana Leedy, eighth-grader at SSAE. “I cannot recommend this program enough and hope that more programs across the state adopt their student-focused model.”

Kylie Welker, tenth-grader at SSAE, and Tristan Kelly, twelfth-grader, earn medals at wrestling competition in Russia.  . Ariana Leedy, eighth-grader at SSAE and gymnast, meets Olympic champion Simone Biles.

Amy Matisek