Brittne Westerman-Evert '17 to Compete at Cornhusker State Games

Brittne Westerman-Evert '17 to Compete at Cornhusker State Games

Friday, July 13, 2018

By Mike O’Brien, West Point News Sports Editor.

For Brittne Westerman-Evert, the 2018 Cornhusker State Games will be about two things that she loves. Family and wrestling.

Westerman-Evert, a 2004 graduate of West Point High, will compete in Women’s Freestyle wrestling and Women’s Takedown wrestling this weekend. At one point, there were no competitors in her Freestyle or Takedown divisions.

If that turns out to be the case, Westerman-Evert will look into switching over to Jiu Jitsu. Regardless, Brittne said she “beyond excited” to compete at the Cornhusker State Games.

“I think I am mostly excited because it will kind of be a family event,” she said.

Brittne’s husband, Chad, will be competing in wrestling as will her stepson, Jamison, and stepdaughter, Piper.

“It’s a great way to show people that our family is very close, and we are all passionate about the same things,” Westerman-Evert. “I am also a very proud Nebraskan, so I get excited about anything with Nebraska or Cornhusker in the name.”

The 2018 Games are scheduled for July 20-29 at more than 70 sites (wrestling events are held early). The journey to this point, however, began in unique fashion many years ago for Westerman-Evert. .

Brittne got her start in martial arts in 2010. She was active duty Navy stationed in San Diego, and was sent to a course called Security Reaction Force-Basic.

There, Westerman-Evert was taught hand-to-hand combat, personnel searches, vehicle searches, room clearing and weapons tactics. .

“One of the instructors pulled me aside after the second day of hand-to-hand combat and told me that I was really good at it, and had a fire in my eyes that he doesn’t see often,” Westerman-Evert said. .

That turned out to be a turning-point moment in Brittne’s life.

At that point in Westerman-Evert’s life, Brittne was battling severe depression and anxiety after getting out of a physically and emotionally abusive marriage. Mixed martial arts became a release valve.

“I had lost my self-esteem, and it was a struggle for me to even get up and function most days. My instructor, Luke [Barker], told me that I should check out an MMA gym,” Westerman-Evert said.

“I hadn’t had anybody compliment me like that in a long time, so it really got me thinking about what I could do to get my life back.”

As a fellow Navy Veteran and wrestler, the two became friends. (Luke was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.)

“I’m very thankful to Luke and him convincing me to try MMA. He re-ignited the fire inside me,” Brittne said.

Westerman-Evert fell in love with MMA. She took boxing and Muay Thai (kickboxing) classes.

“I couldn’t believe how much fun it was,” she stated.

Westerman-Evert was training six to seven days a week. People told her she was addicted, but Brittne loved the atmosphere of the gym, and always meeting new people.

The harder she was pushed, the more she loved it.

Not long after that, San Diego was hosting boxing and Muay Thai exhibitions. Her coach talked her into trying to get a fight. While nervous, she trusted him; and sure enough, Brittne got matched up against an opponent for her very first fight.

“I figured it would be a small, quiet event at this gym in downtown San Diego, but I was wrong,” Westerman-Evert said. “When I walked out for my fight, with “The Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett as my walkout song, I realized that there were hundreds of people packed in to watch these fights.

“It was, and still is, kind of a blur. After the second round, I went back to my corner, and my coach kept saying, “She’s done. You did it. She’s done.””

Brittne didn’t know what he was talking about. She walked back out to the center of the boxing ring, ready for round three, but her opponent was still sitting on a stool in her corner. The referee raised Brittne’s hand and handed her a trophy.

“I had no idea that my opponent’s coach had literally thrown in the towel after the second round, but I won, and that’s how the addiction to compete really started,” Westerman-Evert said.

Westerman-Evert eventually started training in grappling. She was training for around three hours a day. That included boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, and wrestling.

With some amazing coaches, grappling started to click for Brittne.

Westerman-Evert started competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments as a white belt at the end 2015. In her first tournament, she got 3rd out of three.

“I wasn’t very happy about it, but it pushed me to go back and train even harder because I wanted to win,” she said.

For the next 10 months, Westerman-Evert competed in one to four tournaments a month, and won every tournament.

She earned her blue belt in June of 2016. Brittne took 3rd place at her second tournament as a blue belt, which was the first tourney in nearly a year she didn’t win.

Around that same time, a promotion called Submission Hunter started doing submission only Jiu Jitsu super fights throughout Texas and Louisiana. Her Jiu Jitsu and wrestling coach at Brazilian Top Team convinced her to apply to get on the card that was coming up in San Antonio.

“I was nervous, but I didn’t think I would get selected because I knew how many people wanted to compete at that level,” Brittne said. “I was shocked when I was selected to be on the fight card.”

Westerman-Evert signed her military discharge papers on November 10, 2016, celebrated her first Veterans Day on November 11, and had her first professional Jiu Jitsu fight on November 12.

“I ended up losing the fight, but I was also just really proud of how far I had come,” Westerman-Evert said.

Her brother, Tyler Westerman, had flown down to San Antonio to watch the fight and to help me move back home. That was the first time anyone in her family had ever seen Brittne compete.

The morning after losing the fight, Brittne, her brother and dog started to drive back to West Point. “None of it really seemed unique at the time, but looking back, I can appreciate that I had taken the path less traveled,” Westerman-Evert said. “I was living life and enjoying every minute of it.”


Brittne Westerman-Evert pretty much knew Chad Evert her whole life. But it wasn’t until later in her life that the two “found” each other.

They were Facebook friends. Eventually they exchanged numbers. And for almost two years prior to moving back to West Point, the two talked nearly every day.

Also before Brittne’s return to her hometown, Westerman-Evert committed to wrestle for the women’s wrestling program at Midland University.

Wrestling at Midland was another example of Brittne taking the road less traveled.

“I was a 31-year-old Veteran that had officially never wrestled before when I stepped on the mat for my first tournament,” Westerman-Evert said.

“I had never worn a singlet before. To be honest, I was terrified. I only wrestled half of the season because I finished my degree in December of 2017, but it was an experience I’m very thankful for.”

Westerman-Evert only won two collegiate matches, but both were quality wins. “I had a lot of tough matches along the way, and it was definitely some trial by fire,” Westerman-Evert said.

“In addition to the unbelievable experience of being able to wrestle at the collegiate level, wrestling also made my return to college a little easier. Wrestling gave me friends and a support system that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The girls on the wrestling team made me feel welcome.”

Westerman-Evert earned Academic All-American honors from the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.87 GPA.

Westerman-Evert added that her family was also a huge part of her support system when she began classes and wrestling at Midland.

Another major part of Brittne’s support came from Chad. “I wouldn’t have made it through my short wrestling career at Midland if it wasn’t for Chad. He knew exactly what I was going through and could relate to my pain, soreness, frustration, and hunger,” Brittne said.

“He always pushed me to keep going and to not give up. Chad was, and still is, always there to pick up the pieces when I lose and to congratulate me when I win.

“He was there for me when I had a breakdown over having to cut weight for a tournament. Instead of taking me for a run, he took me to eat at Dairy Queen,” Brittne said. “The rest is history as far as our love story goes.”

Brittne and Chad were married on September 30, 2017. Their wedding had plenty of wrestling influence including wrestling shoes, wrestling stance pictures, and even a wrestling cake.


Training continues to be an important part of Westerman-Evert’s life. After graduating from Midland, Chad has been Brittne’s only training partner.

“It’s definitely not easy training with each other sometimes, but we make it work,” Westerman-Evert said. “At the end of every training session, at least one, if not both of us, has bled during practice. He doesn’t take it easy on me. I appreciate that.”

Westerman-Evert is currently training at Competitive Edge Sports in Lincoln, where she is also a coach.

Chad was a coach for the West Point-Beemer wrestling program, and now after the couple moved to Lincoln a few months ago in April, Brittne started her career in coaching.

She coaches girls from as young as three-years old to high school aged girls. As a first-time coach, it took some getting use to, but Westerman-Evert quickly learned how rewarding it is.

“The younger girls are so adorable. It makes my day to see them run on the mat with their tiny wrestling shoes on,” Westerman-Evert said.

“For them, we focus on the very basics of wrestling such as tumbling, the proper stance and fitness. For the older girls, we get into more technique and situational drills.”

Westerman-Evert said they coach mostly folkstyle wrestling, but they also teach freestyle moves as well.

“It is beneficial for them to know both,” she said.

Westerman-Evert went on to say, “The girls’ wrestling program at Competitive Edge Sports is an amazing, fun, and friendly way to expose young girls to the sport. They are all so beautiful and sweet, but they will also take you down and stuff your face into the mat without thinking twice about it.

“I think my favorite thing about Competitive Edge Sports is that they not only teach wrestling, but also many skills that will help these young wrestlers become great people. The core values at CES are honor, integrity, courtesy, self-control and perseverance.”

And while Westerman-Evert certainly has a competitive side, creating bonds and learning life lessons is a magical part of competing, whether its mixed martial arts or wrestling.

“It’s a place where girls can realize they aren’t alone, and they can be surrounded by other girls that want to work hard and break down barriers,” Westerman-Evert said. “But more than any of that, it’s a place to have fun and create lifelong friendships.”

Reprinted with permission from Mike O'Brien of the West Point News.