SheHeroes on the Mat

Wrestling can certainly be considered one sport where women still really struggle to be taken seriously, especially at the high school level. But based on stories like this it seems safe to be hopeful that things are changing. The other day I caught the story of a North Andover teenage girl, Tami Coughlin. Tami wrestles on an Elite North Andover team that boasts two straight Division state titles.

Tami is a 106-pound junior  (yes, weight matters when its wrestling) who wrestles exclusively against boys and is 9-1 on the season and ranked sixth in her division. She recently won her first tournament.

Tami started wrestling in the 5th grade after being inspired by her brother who wrestled. And though it took some pleading, her mother finally gave in and let her wrestle, now 6 years later Tami is a force to be reckoned with.

In an interview with a local paper Tami said that she’s felt right at home on the team since her first day. None of the boys have ever given her a hard time for being a girl. Her coach (who has coached a handful of girls before) says Tami works just as hard, sometimes harder than the boys trying to prove

Tami’s story shows not only can a girl compete with the boys, and win, but that there are teams like her North Andover team where the boys and coaches can be open and welcoming to a teammate without treating her any different because she’s a girl.

But Tami isn’t the only SheHero making a name for herself on the mat. Cristta Hartinger is a former cheerleader and an ex-model at Lancaster high in Lancaster, NY. This past fall Cristta finally won herself a spot on the Lancaster High wrestling team after being denied a spot on the squad a year earlier.

Last year Cristta’s mother was told that Christta couldn’t wrestle on the team due to "muscle mass difference" and "social/pubertal issues," but she didn't receive further explanation.

Christta’s mother pursued it this year point blank accusing them of discriminating and suggested that Cristta's begin on the junior varsity team and prove herself from there. The review panel agreed and prove herself, Christta has.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, Nationwide, about 5,000 high school girls wrestled last year, nearly five times as many as a decade earlier. And while those numbers may be low, despite the states that failed to report girls’ wrestling participation, it is still a far cry from the quarter-million boys who wrestle.

But as with anything, it’s a start.

Thanks to Girls Can't What? for the graphic!

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