East introduces girls wrestling


Photo by Hope Shortridge

Freshman wrestler Mileena Notaro wrestles in a match. This is her first year wrestling and she encourages all those who are interested to give it a shot.

For the first time in Lincoln East High School athletic history, girls wrestling has become an official sport. Though it has yet to become officially sanctioned as an LPS sport, Lincoln East has embraced the girls wrestling in a way that has never been seen here before.

Junior Morgan Sindel said she joined the team because “Wrestling has been in my family for a very long time. My dad wrestled, all my brothers wrestled so I figured why not give it a go? And I’ve enjoyed doing it since I’ve started.”

Though there are very few girls who participate in East wrestling, the addition of girls wrestling has been beneficial not only to the female wrestlers themselves, but to the team as a whole.

East High School wrestling coach Keenan McCurdy said about the introduction of girls wrestling, “It’s been great, it helps bring awareness to a growing sport and provides opportunities for all to wrestle.”

The addition of girls wrestling to East High School athletics has created opportunities for female wrestlers in such a male dominated sport.

Freshman Mileena Notaro said, “It feels empowering to have a tight knit group of women from all over the state and even the country to look up to and to even be looked up to by younger women that are interested in wrestling or doing wrestling.”

Both the coaches and teammates who are part of East wrestling help to push the girls to be the best wrestlers they can and make sure to leave room for women in the sport.

Sindel said, “I like how inclusive the coaches are. They make sure we all have wrestling partners and genuinely seem excited to watch us wrestle.”

However, the addition of girls wrestling hasn’t come without its own, unique struggles. There are both institutional and personal issues that arise with the introduction of women in what is typically seen as a male sport.

“Every once in a while I will run into a male wrestler who is unwilling to wrestle me, whether that’s due to religion or they simply don’t want to” Notaro said. “Other than that, I have not run into any big issues. Being on a team like the East boys wrestling team has been amazing so far.”

There are also larger, institutional issues with the introduction of girls wrestling within the NSAA and LPS.

McCurdy said, “The most unfortunate part is that our girls are currently not allowed to compete in the girls NSAA championships due to the fact that it hasn’t been added as a girls sport in LPS yet. Due to this there has been some tournaments where our girls have to enter into the boys division rather than the girls division at the tournament.”

The girls have also faced some backlash from male wrestlers who believe that girls don’t belong in the sport.

Sindel said, “We’ve had a few issues spring up with boys on the team saying girls shouldn’t wrestle for many reasons. But the coaches talked to the entire team about it and I haven’t heard anything since.”

Though there have been some issues, overall the introduction of girls wrestling has been great for everyone involved and the team wants to urge more girls to join the team in the next season.

Junior Mekinzie Martin said, “I would say to give it a try. It’s something that feels so rewarding and it’s a good life skill to have especially because of how much of a male dominance it has.”

Wrestling is a sport that creates skills that apply to so many aspects of life and the team is eager to gain new players.

“Wrestling is for all, it is a great sport that teaches discipline, hard work, and teamwork, and most of all it is fun,” McCurdy said, “Girls wrestling is growing by the day and will be a mainstream high-school sport in the future, get in on the ground level and have a blast.”
Though joining such a male-dominated sport can seem intimidating, for many, the risk is worth the reward.
Notaro said, “Just watching or trying out one practice won’t hurt. I was nervous my first practice, but after it was said and done, I was fine and learned I loved wrestling.”
The future of girls wrestling is bright and as we continue to get rid of the stigma surrounding it and help women find their voice in the sport, it will help us continue to better East High School athletics.
McCurdy said, “I hope to see more girls on the team, and the ability to fill a full girls dual roster, so that if/when LPS adds girls wrestling we are ready to go.”