As young teenage girls duke it out in the school hallways, someone is watching. Head wrestling coach Nika West is looking from afar at their technique and their skills, contemplating if they would make a good candidate for the first ever girls wrestling team at Har-Ber.
“We have nine and we’re still actively trying to recruit girls that are either in our building or over at SOI to join the girls wrestling team,” West said.
Although there might only be a handful of girls currently serving on the all-girls wrestling team, they are still expected to get out on the mat and perform like their lives depend on it, according to coach West.
“I expect the girls to do pretty well. We’ve got some girls that are scrappers, girls that will go out and fight. Matter of fact if you come into some of our practices and see two of our girls, you’d think, coming from the outside in, that they were in a fist fight,” West said.
While it may seem to an outsider that this select group of girls have a deep hatred for each other, that has turned physical, that is the exact opposite of the truth. They have a strong teammate bond that is similar to any other sport.
“That’s just how aggressive these girls can be. But at the end of the day, the end of practice they are helping each other up, giving each other high fives and moving on,” West said.
It has come to the attention of head coach West that his girls can be much more aggressive than his boys when it comes time to compete.
“I see a lot of aggression in the girls, I’ve been around some girls at tournaments nationwide, and girls are more physical than guys, in my opinion,” West said.
Many of the girls on the team prefer going head to head against a guy in a match rather than a girl, according to senior Kassandra Garcia. This could be based on the fact that most don’t have a choice to wrestle against a fellow female due to the few numbers and differing weight classes.
“I mean we do wrestle with boys. It all depends on how much you weigh because we don’t really have a lot of girls right now, and the girls we do have, our weights differ by a lot. So we have to wrestle with boys, it’s not just girls wrestle with girls,” Garcia said. “I am personally really comfortable with the guys, so that’s not really a problem for me, but maybe for the other girls they aren’t as comfortable with the guys so maybe they might feel a bit uncomfortable.”
The sport of wrestling allows young men and women to also experience mental growth as well as physical according to sophomore Ryker Bowman. This influential aspect of the intense sport could have the capacity to help many young women.
“It gives you a better confidence boost and a better attitude towards things because you view everything different when you’re basically doing a guys sport,” Bowman said.
As the girls begin to start their first ever sesnon as a distinct team, nerves can be felt, but their hopefulness prevails.
“It feels pretty awesome, especially if some of the girls go on to win state,” Bowman said.