When I was just a little 5 year old girl, I was sitting in the bleacher's at my sister's high school watching her doing the sport she loved, which was wrestling. I wanted to be just like her when I was in high school, so I decided to join the great sport of wrestling myself.
When I first started, I was a tiny 2nd grader. I tried it out for the year and ended up quitting in 3rd grade. In 2008, my sister graduated high school and her wrestling career ended. She ended up breaking a few records here and there in the conference since she was one of the few girl wrestlers in the state at that time. I wanted to be just like her when I was her age.
I hit middle school, and decided to join back in wrestling. I went to the first practice and I was the only girl. I didn't quite know anyone on the team at this point besides a couple of guys who were in some of my classes. I only weighed about 80 pounds so I was wrestling pretty light my first year of coming back. I remember the first tournament we had, it was located at Neenah high school in Neenah, Wisconsin. There were two people in my bracket, a boy and a girl. I ended up getting tossed and pinned my first match by the boy, but in my second one against the girl, I pinned her. I was ecstatic. I struggled pretty hard my first year back, with only winning a couple matches throughout the year.
My last year of middle school hits and I was more mentally prepared for this year than last. I was winning a lot more than the year before. The one memory I remember most was my last tournament which was once again at Neenah high school. I ended up losing all 3 of my matches so I got last. My bracket and I went to the podium and took a picture. I remember shaking my opponents hands and then out of no where, one of their dad's comes over, looks at me straight in the eyes and says, "you are a girl. You should not be here, I have no respect for you." I was in shock. It stuck with me throughout the whole night, but what that man said inspired me more to keep on wrestling.
It is now my freshman year of high school, and I was on varsity at 106 and 113 pounds. The first tournament of the year was held at my high school, and it was a JV tournament. My coach wanted me to try it out since I was new to high school wrestling. I ended up getting two forfeits because those two boys didn't want to wrestle me. One of them said he hurt his knee, but he ended up wrestling two more matches after he was supposed to go against me. I was starting to get upset that I was getting forfeits because all I wanted to do was wrestle.
Since wrestling is a male dominated sport, sometimes being a female in it can get you some attention that you wouldn't expect. While there may be wrestlers who don't support females in the sport, there are the ones that happen I battled through my freshman season, I ended up going 14-11 for my varsity record, and the sad part was that all of my 14 wins on varsity, happened to all be forfeits and most of the forfeits were guys who didn't want to wrestle me. My highlight of this year was that I won my first JV tournament. The last tournament of the year rolls around and my first match was against a guy from Oshkosh North.
I went out onto the mat and the ref blew the whistle to start the match. My opponent and I were going at it for a while and then he wrapped his arms around my head and did a head throw to me. I felt an instant rush of pain to my chest area. I got pinned and turns out the rush of pain I experienced got diagnosed to be a broken sternum. My freshman season was done and I was out of sports and exercise for 6 months.
Being a girl in wrestling does come with meeting a lot of new friends, who happen to be guys. I had my fair share of guys coming up to me and asking for my number or my social media. Most times I would just laugh it off because I wasn't here to get attention, but here to make a statement. To show that girls can do it.
Now rolls around my sophomore year, my coach from freshman year ended up resigning and my coach from middle school was the new one. I was very excited because unlike some girl wrestlers, my coach was very supportive of me in the sport. I ended up going JV this year. The first meet of the year is here and it's against Kaukauna who happens to be the best in conference. I ended up pinning my opponent in a minute and thirty-seven seconds and I couldn't have been more proud of myself. My sophomore year went decently well, I ended up winning another tournament and all the opponents in my bracket happened to be girls, and out them all I weighed the least so I was proud of myself for bumping up from 113 to 126. My season ended early again because I got my first concussion and I ended up blacking out from it.
March hits and I decided to do an off season tournament which happened to be Women's Folkstyle State. I placed third, even though I should have placed second, but I ended up getting disqualified in my second match due to too many technical violations.
My junior season approaches and I am more ready than ever. I sealed my spot on varsity at 113. My junior year was not my best in my opinion. I did win my first ever varsity match this season though. At this point in my high school wrestling career, I was known as "the girl wrestler from Appleton East." Surprisingly, I had many people that supported me. The first tournament of the year was at Kimberly high school, and the first match I wrestled at this tournament, I went against a boy who had the audacity to hit at my face and be a little too aggressive towards me. He ended up putting me in a cradle and he kept saying to the ref, "Is she pinned yet? Is she pinned yet?" I always tried to stay positive when things like that would happen to me. I wasn't quite satisfied with my record or how I was doing overall. My season ends once again and I set a goal for myself.
Be a role model, make history, finish strong and show them that I CAN do it and that I CAN achieve anything that I put mind to.
The time is finally here. My last season of my high school wrestling career. I was varsity at 120 pounds this year, and then eventually dropping back down to 113. My conference record was 4-5, which I was very proud of. I was achieving my goal I set. I was more mentally prepared, stronger, faster and winning more matches. I even got my fastest pin this season which happened to be 18 seconds. My senior year was amazing. The end of wrestling inches closer and closer and it's now the conference tournament. I ended up placing 6th, making history in the FVA Conference. I was so happy with myself. One week goes by and now it's Regionals. This is my make it or break it, if I don't place higher than 4th, my wrestling career is over for good. My first match I ended up losing, but still had a shot. The guy that I lost to had to lose and I had to win. My bracket number goes up on the chart and now is my time to shine. My opponent was from Hortonville. We go to the center of the mat and the whistle blows and we're off. I tried my absolute hardest in this match. I pinned my rival in a minute and fifty-nine seconds with one second to spare in the first period. But, the guy who had to lose ended up winning. My wrestling career was over.
Luckily, I was blessed to be apart of a team that accepted me. Me and the two other seniors on my team all went in for a group hug at the end of the tournament. I was always included in events and they all felt like my brothers. I gained the best wrestling family I could ever ask for.
I ended up winning the PAC Award at my school because of my commitment and hard work I put into wrestling. I was the first girl to receive it for wrestling. Being a girl in a male-dominated sport was not easy. But with all the encouragement I got from my friends and family, it truly made me believe that I could be "just as good as the boys." Wrestling has taught me many great traits of life, including how to have confidence in myself which I always lacked before it. It has truly grown me into who I am today, and I could not be more grateful to have experienced this wonderful and amazing sport throughout my life.
Wisconsin is becoming more and more welcoming of wrestling for women. Lakeland College has plans to have women's wrestling as a sport by fall of 2018. And Wisconsin may add a high school girls wrestling division very soon. Women's wrestling in Wisconsin grows more each year, and I'm anticipating that hopefully everyone will all stand together at some point and accept women in wrestling.