Korina Blades: A Journey of Resilience and Growth in Wrestling

Overcoming adversity and developing resilience is a skill required for greatness. One wrestler who has continued to find growth in every setback is teenage phenom Korina Blades. Her journey is a testament to the power of determination, the importance of a strong support system, and the significance mindset plays in achieving your goals.

Korina was a 2019 U16 Fargo Champion, U15 World Champion in 2019, and a Junior World Bronze Medalist in 2021. Though her story is flooded with accolades, it is marked by challenges that would have deterred many. Since her sophomore year of high school, Blades has undergone five major surgeries, the first occurring at the young age of 15 and the most recent she is actively in recovery from. These surgeries require a minimum of six months of recovery for each incident and, in the past, have taken a toll on Blades' psyche. After her first surgery, she felt like her career had ended before it even began and withdrew from the people trying to help. "It's not that I didn't have the people; it's that I didn't let them in." Though this perspective is enough to set back the toughest of athletes, Korina pushed through and has found herself more determined than ever.

With the progression of each recovery, Korina has found the importance of developing a great team and giving them the opportunity to truly help her. When speaking about her current support system, Blades shares, "I am getting a constant reminder that I am going to be great, that I am enough right now, and I just need to take things slowly." Korina realized the significance of maintaining a positive mentality through her coaches and family and has sought solace in the experiences of fellow athletes who have had to go through post-surgery recovery.


Korina's journey highlights the crucial role of coaches and family in her development. Blades acknowledges her coaches for holding her accountable for workouts and focusing on her end goals by analyzing and studying the techniques of star athletes. Meanwhile, her family gave her the positive reinforcement she never knew she needed.

During the days of her first recovery, the outlook her family had did not resonate with the young athlete. Korina shared, “I closed off my family because I felt like they were too positive and couldn't relate to me or understand the position I was in.” But as her mindset shifted, she found the benefit of their unwavering support. “I’ve grown from that and eventually realized that I need positive talk from them.” From her sister, Kennedy Blades, for keeping Korina accountable, ensuring she attends practices and stays in the right mentality for training, to her parents for continuing to show their support even when Blades can not compete, her family has always been by her side.

In addition to her support system, a key aspect of Korina's growth has come from her ability to take responsibility for her development. "From my first surgery to my most recent surgery, I have learned a lot about doing things on my own. Just because my physical therapy appointments are 1 to 2 hours long twice a week doesn't mean that's all I should be doing." She learned the commitment it takes to get your body back to wrestling ready. "Coming back into the sport of wrestling, where you are getting thrown into crazy positions, particularly with your shoulders, you need to make sure you are strengthening all the little muscles around the injury, and it took me a little while to learn that I needed to take my physical therapy a little more seriously." 

Blades has faced mental health issues and a period of increased negativity, struggling with life outside of wrestling. "I started to see a therapist, and being able to talk to someone has helped me see the positive things I didn't see and try to find myself outside the sport." Korina discovered the value of giving back to the wrestling community by inspiring young girls. Her newfound confidence alleviated her feelings of inadequacy and led to the belief that God has a plan for her. 

Eventually, Korina realized that complacency would rob her of her goals. “I found other ways to make myself stronger off the mat, instead of being sad and staying negative." Korina discovered methods to increase agility and endurance and learned how to stay committed to long-term goals. She keeps herself focused and determined by surrounding herself with high-achievers who share her mindset and manifesting her goals. "When I get back on the mat, I’m going to be even better than before.” 

Korina Blades' journey in wrestling is a story of resilience, personal growth, and the power of surrounding oneself with the right people. Her experience reminds us that in the face of adversity, with the right mindset and support, we can overcome any challenge and achieve our goals.

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