In these uncertain times, Symphony Veloz knows how to calm the storm. When she steps on the wrestling mat, she is in control of her world.
The Elgin High School freshman just wrapped up a championship win in her division at the Western Conference Wrestling Tournament held mid-January in Kingfisher. Her eye is now on Regionals Feb. 8 in Norman and hopefully a spot at State at the end of the month.
In a fitting crescendo to an already excellent season, Symphony was recognized last week in the national girl’s high school rankings at No. 10. Wrestling at 164-lbs., she was one of nine Oklahoma girls to be named in the national rankings. Her dark brown eyes light up at the mention of this accomplishment and a big smile helps express her enthusiasm. “I love that!” she gushes. “I made it a goal to get ranked as a freshman, and it happened. I love this sport.” Symphony certainly isn’t a novice in the wrestling world. She began her athletic journey at nine years old after her parents, Robert and Sonia Veloz, wouldn’t let her play football. She said it helps to express her aggressive side.
“My parents said ‘no’ when I wanted to play football in the first grade,” Symphony said. “They didn’t like the injury risks, like concussions. So, I picked wrestling.” Sitting in the girl’s locker room at the EHS wrestling gym, Symphony doesn’t look like she has an aggressive side to her personality. She calmly answers a variety of questions about her interest in wrestling, her family, her likes and dislikes. She is poised but expresses her passion.
When asked if she would wrestle for a few photos to go with this article, her personality and focus changed the second she stepped on the mat. It was an amazing transformation as the quick and lively tempo of a practice match with a teammate almost turned into a blur. Symphony was aggressive, as the sport demands, and she was all business. Her usual training partner, Shanda Siebert-Woods, wasn’t available at the time and teammate Jace Williams, 8th grade, filled in for the photo op. Wrestling Coach Cody Rowell talked about the respect the boys and girls on the team show each other.
“The girls, especially Symphony, are unique to coach,” he said. “They seem to have a general willingness to go the extra mile to succeed in a sport that has not been typically spotlighted and is sometimes stigmatized for young women.
“The boys on the team see this in practice and Symphony quickly earned the respect of every single person in the practice room. The support shown by the boys is tremendous for the girls in our practice room, and same for the way the girls support the boys.” Symphony agrees and had earlier expressed the same sentiment in the locker room interview.
“I am very thankful to be a part of the wrestling program here in Elgin with Coach Rowell. There is a respect here between the boys and girls that’s not the same in other places. I’ve talked to other girls with Oklahoma dual teams and am happy to be where I am,” she said.
When pressed about any awkward attitudes from people in general about girls participating in what historically has been known as a boy’s sport, Symphony stands firm. It may exist in other places and on other teams, but it is not part of her world.
Symphony was born in Dallas, Texas, to a military family and they lived in Elgin when she was younger before they moved to North Carolina for four years. She has one sister, Melody, who is a member of the Elgin band. The Veloz family moved back to Elgin when Symphony was in the sixth grade. She said Elgin is a welcoming community and she has never felt like an outsider here. “I knew Coach Osborn when we lived here before and when we came back Coach Rowell was here,” she said. “I love his wrestling style. This year has been a turning point in how I wrestle. For example, I had my one main take down, but I’ve been transitioning to more moves this year.”
Symphony opted to be a virtual student at EHS during the second semester, after attending on campus the first of the school year. “First semester, we had two quarantines [due to the coronavirus]. I never had it, but I felt being a virtual student that there was less chance of being quarantined before the State wrestling tournament or nationals,” she said. She packs a lot in her day, with schoolwork and wrestling practice from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. After that, she shows back up from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to help with the novice youth program. “I love it,” she said.
As all wrestlers do, she watches her nutrition and admits that she eats pretty much the same thing every day while in season. “Breakfast is usually three eggs and spinach and a banana. Lunch is a chicken wrap, salad and some fruit like pineapple or grapes. Dinner is chicken, potatoes and a big side of vegetables,” she said. Steamed broccoli is her favorite vegetable. But ... after the State tournament ...
“Oh, we’ve already planned a trip to Braum’s for ice cream. That is my favorite food – ice cream. I’m already trying to decide what flavor I’m getting. It might be cookies and cream or cappuccino chocolate or peanut butter cup,” she said. “Sure, pizza is good, but ice cream is the ultimate!”