Wrestling: Not Just a Boy's Sport Anymore
Whenever the word "Wrestling" is said, it's almost a given that we are either talking about the WWE, or the sport that young men compete in from middle school through college. Not anymore. Women's Wrestling is continuing to gain popularity across the United States, blazing a new trail for female athletes looking to show off their skills on the mat.
The sport has come a long way since 1979, when there was no such thing as Girl's Wrestling. The first reports of the sport's significant growth came during the 1990's, as the number of female wrestlers who competed in high school spiked from 112 in 1990, to 2,474 in 2000. Fast forward to 2016, and there are close to 13,500 female wrestlers in High School, and nearly 2,000 High School Girl's Wrestling teams. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington are among the states that sponsor a state high school championship for the sport.
On the collegiate level, there are now 30 colleges and universities that sponsor a Varsity Women's Wrestling program. Women's Wrestling has also become a popular Olympic sport since being sanctioned into the Games back in 2004. During the Summer 2016 Olympics, Helen Maroulis (a former high school wrestler in Maryland) became the U.S.A.'s first Gold Medalist in the sport.
While some coaches are thrown off by the idea of females on the wrestling mat, U.S.A. Wrestling Women's National Coach Terry Steiner is outspoken in his support of the sport. In a letter titled, "Why Women's Wrestling?" he writes, "Our attitude towards women in the sport in the USA still has along ways to go. I feel and hear it everyday from coaches around the country. They are just not sure about women on the wrestling mat. They will say that their male wrestlers are uncomfortable with it. They will also say that they do not want their boys treating and touching girls like that on the mat. My question back is this “why are you thinking about it like this?” Why are you making it more that it is; athletes on the mat, ready to compete and learn from a sport and a coach? Wrestling is nothing more that an educational tool to teach kids the lessons of life while they are right in front of us, so when they fail we can teach them how to handle it and get back up and deal with it. This is a sport, no more, no less!"
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