Wrestling sees growth in female participants

Wrestling attracts a new demographic of competitors with women’s participation increasing. According to coach Tristan Boyd, growing acceptance among male wrestlers contributes to its popularity.

With growing popularity, female wrestlers are growing in number at Souderton as acceptance increases. In recent years, the wrestling team has had girls participating in the sport.
According to Souderton varsity wrestler Dylan Bach, “There’s a lot of people doing things for girls wrestling to make it more accepted,” Bach said.
The integration of female wrestlers is a relatively new thing, according to wrestling coach Tristan Boyd.
“The last two years are the first time I’ve had girls here at the highschool, in which I’ve been at the high school the last 10 years. It’s relatively new having girls here at Souderton,” Boyd said.
The growing number of girls participating in the sport could be partly due to the growth of acceptance among the teams themselves.
Boyd believes in introducing the female wrestlers as valued members of the team at the start of the season.
“While girls are definitely different, as a team, we’re a unit and our boys have thoroughly embraced it,” Boyd said.
Sophomore Trinity Monaghan is the only female wrestler at Souderton.
According to Monaghan, female wrestling should be sanctioned into its own category because “it’s such a growing sport.”
“There’s so many girls that participate in the sport in Pennsylvania, and it just hasn’t gone anywhere yet,” Monaghan said.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), in order to get a sport sanctioned, the sport has to be financially supported. To consider sanctioning a team, there has to be a substantial amount of people interested in participating.
“Because there’s not that many females in wrestling, there isn’t enough to make tournaments for girls and guys,”wrestling team manager Maggie Williams said. “Guys have everything [needed], there aren’t enough girls to make the equivalent for them.”
As a female athlete in a male- dominated sport, Monaghan said it can be difficult to feel included. “ I have to toughen up and I can’t show my emotions. You can’t show that you’re scared, or sad or tired because you have to stay strong and show the boys that you can be one of them,” Monaghan said.
She says although there are difficulties in matching strength with boys, they always support her on the mat.
“The boys are really accepting because they know how much the sport means to me,” Monaghan said, “ and they’re just there for me for my wins and my losses. They always cheer me on no matter what.”
Boyd has noticed a pattern among the few female wrestlers he’s coached over the years. “It’s almost like because they are a girl, and they’re coming into a sport dominated by men, they almost have a chip on their shoulder where they recognize they have to work harder to feel like they belong, even though they shouldn’t have to work any harder,” Boyd said.
Along with the potential difficulties within the team, there are also potential problems among competitors, Bach said. The amount of female wrestlers is low, and “people don’t always treat it fairly or respect it,” Bach said. While the team themselves embraces the opportunity for girls to try out, outsiders sometimes lack the same respect.
According to Boyd, despite its challenges, there are a lot of life lessons to be learned in wrestling. “I’m really, really happy to see that girls are finally having the chance to take advantage of everything this sport has to offer,” Boyd said.
With the low numbers, Monaghan hopes to see more girls give wrestling a try.
“It would just be so awesome to see some more high school girls come out, because you never know if you would like it or not,” Monaghan said. “It doesn’t hurt to try.”