Wrestling has been a part of Boise State senior Jason Chamberlain's relationship with his daughter since she was born two years ago.
Violet arrived two days before the 2011 Pac-10 wrestling tournament. Her dad was there for that moment - but left to go win a conference championship and missed her trip home.
Last season, Chamberlain redshirted to extend his career. Violet accompanied him to the gym, where she would watch from her playpen as her dad trained for a run at the Olympics.
This week, Violet and her mom - Chamberlain's wife, Abbey - will be in the stands in Des Moines, Iowa, for the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Chamberlain, who finished third in 2011, is the No. 2 seed at 149 pounds. He's 26-1 - and his only loss was to a wrestler he also has beaten twice this season. He'll try to become the third NCAA wrestling champ in Boise State history.
He's excited to have his two biggest fans with him.
"For me, (fatherhood) has probably helped me more than anything else in college," Chamberlain said. "The first couple years I was in school, before I was married, it was kind of rough. I didn't do very well with the college life. I needed something that was consistent, something to focus on besides whatever - going out all the time and being rowdy."
Chamberlain has been on a national title track for years.
He started wrestling as a first-grader in Springville, Utah, after grabbing a flyer at school. He watched videos produced by some of the nation's best wrestlers to develop his skills and worked with several strong club coaches.
He won four high school state championships and several different national titles, including the high school championship as a senior.
He added a Pac-10 title as a freshman in 2009, climbed as high as No. 6 in the nation in 2010 and lost to eventual national champion Frank Molinaro of Penn State in the NCAA semifinals in 2011.
One of Chamberlain's club coaches was Gabe Vigil, a former Bronco who took his team to a tournament in Boise every year and incorporated a visit to Boise State's practice.
"We had our sights set on (Chamberlain) early," Boise State coach Greg Randall said. "And then he just kept getting better and better."
That continued last season, when Chamberlain didn't wrestle in college.
Randall decided to redshirt him for three reasons:
Æ To improve his NCAA title chances. If Chamberlain had wrestled last season, he would have had to deal with Molinaro again. As it turns out, this strategy backfired - Chamberlain beat Molinaro on the freestyle wrestling circuit and this year will have to go through No. 1 seed Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State, who moved up to the 149 class after finishing first and second at 133 the past two years.
Æ To give him a shot at the Olympics, which utilizes a different set of rules than college. Chamberlain reached the U.S. trials and went 2-2 there. He also made the World University Games team by beating Molinaro.
Æ And to ease the transition in his personal life. "I knew his schedule would be changing often," Randall said. Even now, it's not unusual for Chamberlain to arrive late for practice. "There's some things that come before wrestling now and they will always be before wrestling," Chamberlain said, "and I think our coaches really understand that more than maybe other coaches would."
He wasn't sure about redshirting at first - he believed he could win the national title last year and wanted to wrestle - but he says the extra year helped him.
"I got a lot better," he said. "Most of it is the mental side of wrestling."
He'll rely on that mental strength this week, needing five consecutive victories to win the title that he has chased for about a decade.
"I feel more confident than I ever have," Chamberlain said. "Confidence comes with preparation is what our coaches always tell us so I never worry about how I'm going to perform."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat