201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


Parents appreciate coach’s compassion

Baxter helps wrestlers become their best selves
Photo courtesy of Carla O’Boyle
(From left) Coach Ferdaws Ashrati and coach Jaysen Baxter at the CIF match this year.

Junior Chloe Ortiz was one of two girls on the FUHS wrestling team the summer before her freshman year. Three years later the team has gone from two to 18 girl wrestlers. 

“I thought it was going to be like that forever. I was kind of intimidated when so many other girls joined because I wasn’t expecting it,” said Chloe, the girls team captain. “It happened so fast. It exploded.”

Cindy Ortiz—Chloe’s mom—said the sport of wrestling has become one of the fastest-growing sports.

“When we took Chloe over two years ago to some of the tournaments for girls, it was half to a quarter full [in the standing room],” Ortiz said. “Now when we go back to the same tournaments, the standing room is filled.”

Ortiz also said she believes the growth of wrestling is due to its balance between individual performance and team camaraderie.

“You are an individual competing individually but on a team. You’re all rooting for that teammate to score for your team,” Ortiz said. “It is a unique situation that kind of pulled the girls together as well.”

Not only has wrestling grown in popularity, the FUHS wrestling team has seen significant growth. Ortiz said wrestling is an empowering sport for women, and that is why she loves to watch Chloe participate.

“There’s nothing that girls are taught or that they do out there on the mat that is scaled down or less than what boys do. They fight the same, and I think that is very much empowering,” Ortiz said. “They can go head-to-head with a boy and still stand up at the end of the day and say I did that. I think it is a testament to the sport and everything that wrestling stands for. I think it’s a great equalizer in many senses.”

Wrestlers hold significant responsibility when it comes to their day-to-day actions. Ortiz said that the girls learn how to own their actions and be disciplined.

“It is not an easy sport. There’s a certain amount of perseverance that comes into that sport. There’s a reckoning with yourself. You have no one else,” Ortiz said. “There’s just a difference with how a wrestler learns to handle themselves with grace, with humility and with that fortitude to move forward. They say, ‘I lost and that was on me.’”

Baxter (left) and Chloe Ortiz (right) at CIF. The girls wrestling team finished first in the Freeway League. (Photo courtesy of Carlos Rivera)

The team had a successful season, including four wrestlers who placed in the CIF Individual Championship:  Levi Burrell (4th place), Chloe Ortiz (8th Place), Ashlyn Vasquez (8th Place) and DJ Cobbs (5th Place). These four wrestlers qualified for the Masters in Palm Springs; Fullerton had the most wrestlers qualify for the Master among all Freeway League teams.

Senior Levi Burrell says the commitment and dedication of FUHS wrestling coach Jaysen Baxter has also created a space where the wrestling community can grow and thrive. Burrell said Baxter showed intentionality when it came to his coaching.

“Baxter was a different coach because he wanted to look at us wrestling first and then we would decide from there from our style. Your style changes what they teach you and what they won’t teach you,” Burrell said. “I really like that about him. He knew that I tossed, so he gave me counter-moves. He built off of what I had and made it stronger.”

Burrell said she struggled with getting out from the bottom and headlock positions. Baxter took the time to help her improve.

“He told me when I get into that position, I need to first get my hips out. I need to scrabble my hips out and then I need to push up my elbow and slowly try to put my legs up. It worked in my CIF matches,” Burrell said. “He spent an hour with me going over how to do a different move, how to counter it and how to do a hip toss but with a better setup.”

Carla O’Boyle—Levi’s mom—said Baxter sees the wrestlers not just as athletes but as human beings, looking out for their mental well-being above all.

“He notices when students are feeling down and not themselves and takes time to do that. He’s really good on emotional intelligence, and he’s able to pick up when someone is down,” O’Boyle said. “He starts off with, ‘How are you doing?’ It’s not, ‘This is what I need from you.’ It’s, ‘How are you doing? What can I do to help you?’

Baxter said he tries his best to show care for the team because he understands how grueling wrestling can be on the athletes.

 “They’re athletes, but I think a good thing to always remember is that we’re all people first. I think bonding with them—as people or just kids in general—helps glue us together,” Baxter said. “I feel that if they know I view them as people and that I care about them as a person then it’s easy for them to be an athlete. It’s easy to have them work their butts off for me if they know I’m working my butt off for them. It helps a lot.”

Editor-in-chief Reagan Glidewell contributed to this story

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