Junior High Wrestling as a Female in Iowa

If you tuned in last week, and the week before, you know how I got to this point. After I had been going to practice for a while, my parents agreed to let me go to some tournaments. My coach, Mr. Macki, advised that my parents sign me up as R. Watters instead of using my first name. This way there wouldn’t be any bias when I was put into a group, just in case. This was great advice, but it only really worked for a while and for farther away tournaments. People eventually caught on that R. Watters was that girl from Ballard. I don’t remember noticing much sexism at elementary tournaments, but it became very clear to me that some people didn’t agree with what I was doing once I was in junior high. By that time, all of my male teammates were used to me. It wasn’t weird to them anymore that I was the only girl in the room. My coaches were that way as well; I had been consistently going to practice for two years and working my butt off. I was finally in the advanced group at practice, and I think had won over most of the people in my area, but this was still a new thing for basically the rest of Iowa. The first tournament I received a forfeit I didn’t think anything of it, because other guys on my team got forfeits too. Farther into the junior high season, we had a tournament and my coach came up to me and said, “They aren’t going to wrestle you.” I was confused. Why not? My coach was livid. This was one of the first times I really felt like maybe I shouldn’t be there. At a tournament a couple weeks later, I wrestled a kid and beat him pretty handily, but it was a good match. I went over to shake his coach’s hand, which was customary in junior high wrestling, but the coach refused. Similar things continued to happen in junior high and my second year was even worse than my first. I had the same amount of people forfeit to me as those who would wrestle me. Some boys in junior high figured they would rather forfeit than wrestle a girl. By my second year, I was used to it. At first these forfeits tore me down, but as I grew older, all they did was fuel my fire. I had something to prove. I wanted people to know I was serious. I was a wrestler. Tune in next week for my blog about how I almost quit wrestling because of puberty.

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