Patricia Anne Stratigeas(Trish Stratus) grew up in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada where she attended Bayview Secondary School. She enrolled at York University, where she studied biology and kinesiology and played soccer and field hockey. Due to a faculty strike in 1997, she was forced to change her plans. She was working as a receptionist at a local gym when she was approached by the publisher of MuscleMag International to do a test shoot for the magazine. She later appeared on the cover of the May 1998 issue and was signed to a two-year contract. For the next six months, she worked on her body and appeared on numerous magazine covers. During this time, she joined Big Daddy Donnie & Jeff Marek as the third host of Live Audio Wrestling on Toronto Sports Radio, The FAN 590.
Stratigeas had been a fan of wrestling since childhood and was especially fond of wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, among others. Her modelling work caught the attention of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). In November 1999, she was signed to a multi-year contract with the company, who sent her to Sully’s Gym where she was trained by Ron Hutchison.