Growing up in St. Charles, Michigan, wrestling was always a part of Janice Ruhlig’s life. In fact, some of her earliest memories involve traveling to Detroit’s famed Cobo Hall to attend wrestling events with her father.
“My dad worked two jobs,” she recalls. “But he had weekends off, and we would watch wrestling. That was our time together. In the 80’s, I grew up watching all of the big names like Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan.”
As she got older, Janice experienced a strong desire to break into the industry. “I remember telling my gym teacher that I wanted to be a professional wrestler, and she said she didn’t think there were many female professional wrestlers. That’s when I started really paying attention to women’s role in the industry.”
Despite a continued interest in wrestling, but with nowhere to turn for guidance, Janice set her aspirations aside. After briefly studying journalism, she got married, started a family, and spent the ensuing years focused on raising her daughter. It was only when her daughter started looking into colleges that Janice decided to pursue her own dream of going back to school. After weighing her interests and options, she decided to enroll in Full Sail’s online Media Communications undergraduate certificate program.
It was during an assignment for class that Janice rekindled her desire to become involved in the world of professional wrestling. Tasked with creating and maintaining a blog on the topic of her choosing, she chose to focus on the one interest that had been a constant in her life. Many of her posts centered around female wrestlers, and providing resources for girls who, like her, thought they might want to pursue a career in the industry. Through the blog, Janice was able to connect with other fans, and even some members of the professional wrestling community. One of those professionals was Brian Maday, a promoter for Ultimate Championship Wrestling (UCW), an independent professional wrestling company based out of Bay City, Michigan.
“He contacted me, and it turns out I only live about an hour away from him. He really liked the work I was doing, and he wanted to know if I would be interested in working with UCW part time. Of course I said yes. This was a month before I completed the program, and I was able to apply a lot of what I learned in those final courses to my work with UCW.”
A year later, Janice has become a behind-the-scenes staple at UCW. She manages their social media, creates posters and other promotional assets, and writes proposals for event sponsorships. In addition to working with up and coming wrestlers from around the midwest, Janice has also had the opportunity to work with several veteran wrestlers who had an influence on her growing up, including the Road Warrior Animal and Leilani Kai.
“I’ve very humbled by that, to be able to interact with people I grew up watching.”
UCW also does a fair amount of charity work. One of their biggest partners is Camp Fish Tails, a summer camp for children with special needs.
“I love sitting in the audience,” says Janice. “Seeing the kids’ faces during the show—it takes me back to that time with my dad, and reminds me how happy I felt when he would take me to see live shows.”
Janice says she’s thankful for her time in the Media Communications certificate program, and how it provided her was a community of like-minded individuals working throughout the entertainment industry. She still keeps in touch with many of her classmates. Ultimately, she says the biggest benefit she gained from her time in the certificate program was a boost in confidence.
“Full Sail gave me the tools to go out and live my dream, and because of that I was able to put myself out there. Now, I’m working in the industry, and I couldn’t be happier. I achieved what I always wanted to do.”