Conant creates new team for girls’ wrestling
Conant’s new girls’ wrestling team, competing during the winter season just like the boys’ team, has nearly twenty athletes, half of whom are wrestling in matches.
Last year, there were some female wrestlers, but there wasn’t an actual team for them. Girls’ wrestling coach Gus Karapanos said, “Last year, we had a few girls wrestling, and Mr. Hay, the head coach, decided he really wanted to push the program because we had one girl do really well.” Last year’s success created interest for other girls who wanted to join the team as well.
There was one problem–not all of the girls wanted to wrestle boys. Karapanos said, “It was a lot of Mr. Hay telling girls they can wrestle girls, which was huge.” Mr. Hay’s encouragement attracted many girls to the team, causing a ripple effect of more girls continuing to join.
Joyce Shim-Kim, ’22, said, “I’ve always wanted to do wrestling since middle school because it always looked intense and focus-driven, which made me give it a try this year. I guess the reason I’ve never previously done it is because I didn’t feel too comfortable wrestling guys right off the bat.”
Because it is a new sport, not all of the girls felt comfortable wrestling in matches. Instead, a lot of the girls consistently go to practice and do the workouts. Coaches for other teams encouraged girls to join wrestling simply for the workout.
Faith Massey, ‘21, said it shocks most people when she tells them she wrestles. “I have an immense amount of people supporting me,” she said. “They do get astonished when I tell them, though.”
Trinity Bessemer, ‘21, said it’s hard for other girls to understand why she would want to participate in wrestling. She said, “They believe that it was to be closer to the guys on the team, which was not true.”
Many of the girls have had success in matches this year. Shim-Kim ranked 3rd place in the Schaumburg tournament, Massey has won a home match, and Bessemer placed 2nd in the all-girls tournament hosted here at Conant, which was also her first time competing.
Many on the team are encouraging other girls to join, despite fears they may have. “Just stop by and join,” Massey said. “I’m not in your shoes, so I don’t know what’s making you uneasy about joining. But all I can say is: if it’s about the stigma, self-doubt, or the uniform, [those aren’t reasons] not to join.”