DCHS grad Newcom invited to WWE tryout

April 22, 2024 | 12:10 am

Updated April 22, 2024 | 5:08 am

Kenlee Newcom | Photo submitted

Kenlee Newcom — a soccer standout at Daviess County High School who went on to play at Western Kentucky University — didn’t know much about the world of professional wrestling until a few months ago. That changed when she was surprised with an invite to a WWE tryout that was held earlier this month.

Newcom was one of about 60 college athletes invited to participate in a tryout for WWE’s Next in Line program, which was created in 2021 following the NCAA’s new policy allowing students to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

The program’s website says it is designed “to recruit and develop potential future Superstars” and provides “a clear pathway from college athletics to WWE through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds.”

The tryouts were held in Philadelphia during the same week of WrestleMania. The journey for Newcom began a few months before that. 

Much of her time over the last several years has been dedicated to soccer. At DCHS, Newcom was a three-time All-District, three-time All-Region, and two-time All-State honoree. She also played club soccer with the Indiana Fire, winning the Indiana State Championship in 2017 and finishing as runners-up in 2018 and 2019.

Newcom went on to play at WKU, though she did not see the field in her freshman or senior academic years due to injury. She played five matches as a sophomore and 12 as a junior.

Wrestling was never on her radar before she got a message out of the blue.

“The WWE contacted me,” Newcom said. “They found me through social media and invited me to the tryout. I had to go through a couple of interviews, screenings, and a physical. If I’m being completely honest, I knew very little about the wrestling world in the months leading up to this tryout. I knew some of the most famous wrestlers in the history of the WWE, but never really followed it much.”

She decided to embrace the opportunity. Even after doing some research and prep work, Newcom said the tryout was tougher than she imagined.

“Many people don’t realize the physicality involved with WWE,” she said. “All of these wrestlers are incredible athletes. The training required of them is very intensive. The tryout itself was extremely physically and mentally demanding, more so than anything I’ve been through as a collegiate athlete.”

Newcom said the tryout consisted of a lot of running, jumping, and flips and maneuvers inside the ring. 

“There were also both individual and group promo sessions where you get the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to connect with an audience,” she said. “It was really cool and intimidating all at the same time. I’ve really never done anything like that in front of a live audience before.”

Ultimately, Newcom was unable to complete the tryout because the WWE medical staff pulled her out after she tweaked her ankle, which she had surgery on last year.

“I was really disappointed and frustrated about not being able to finish, but after talking with the talent ID team, they thought it was for the best,” Newcom said. “They seemed to really like me and have already invited me back for the next tryout after I rehab my ankle.”

Newcom said while it was something outside her comfort zone, it was a great experience.

“It really pushed me and challenged me in so many ways,” she said. “I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity. It was such a neat experience to make connections with so many people. I was able to see behind the scenes of this sport and what all goes into what you see on TV. These wrestlers have to be elite athletes and gifted entertainers. It was something I’ll certainly never forget. I’m really excited about what the future may hold.”

April 22, 2024 | 12:10 am

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