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.

My First Wrestling Practice

f you tuned in last week, you will know how I ended up going to my first wrestling practice. If you missed last week, you can check it out here. https://www.myhousesportsgear.com/blog/how_i_got_into_wrestling/

To prepare for wrestling practice, my mom took me to Scheels to get some wrestling shoes. Actually, still to this day, I have my Nike Speedsweeps that I wore to my first practice. I can fondly remember sitting in my room trying on my shoes, unable to contain my excitement for my wrestling practice the next day.

The following day, I couldn’t sit still in school waiting for 6:30 to roll around that night. The practice was held at the high school, and when I got there high school practice was still going on, so I waited outside in the hallway with my fellow elementary wrestlers. Finally, it was time for practice to start; we started by running and I slowly started to realize that I was the only girl there. All of these thoughts soon washed away when we started “playing” Fox and the Hound. I put playing in quotes because our coaches called it a game, but we thought it was terrible. In order to play the game, you first need to decide who the hound is, and then the rest of the players are foxes. The foxes start on one side of the room and the hound on the other. The game is only over when one fox passes the hound or when the hound passes all of the foxes. As you can imagine, this game took forever and required you to sprint for a long period of time. I know that this game may sound terrible, I distinctly remember pushing myself so hard that I puked afterward on multiple occasions, but it is one of the things that made me buy into this sport. I had never had to push myself so hard, and for so long, in any other sport. This made wrestling stand out for me. After we were all exhausted from fox and the hound, it was time to stretch and start technique. Before we started the technique portion of the practice, we were split into three groups by skill level. I was, of course, put in the first group for beginners. However, my friends that were my age were all in the most experienced group. This lit a fire inside me that I still have at the age of 21. I eventually did make it to the experienced group, but not without a ton of hard work and proving people wrong.

Stick around for next week’s blog where I talk about the controversy I overcame as a junior high female wrestler.

How I Got Into Wrestling

I get asked a lot how I got into wrestling. An interviewer once asked me if I had any older brothers who wrestled, not quite. In my family, I am the oldest of three girls. I think having three daughters freaked my dad out. He practiced Jiu-Jitsu since before I was born. My dad signed me and my sisters up for Jiu-Jitsu at a young age, so that we could defend ourselves in the future if need be. I don’t think he knew what these classes would ultimately lead me to later in life. I liked Jiu-Jitsu practice and even did a tournament or two, but soon I found another sport that would steal my heart.

In fifth grade, I was a very talkative and outgoing kid. I would tell anyone who would listen about my Jiu-Jitsu classes. One day, I happened to mention it to my elementary guidance counselor. Thinking back, I am very glad I did. Mr. Macki, the guidance counselor, was also one of the club wrestling coaches. He quickly invited me to a wrestling practice that next week at the high school. I was beyond excited to go and try it. I didn’t know much about wrestling at this age, but that didn’t keep me from being stoked for the next week to roll around.

After school, I asked my mom if I could go. At my age, I was always running and playing football with the boys. I don’t think my parents thought there would be much harm letting me try a wrestling practice, especially since I was only 11.

Stick around for my blog next week to see how my first practice went!Posted  By 

Rachel Watters

What it is Like to Compete Internationally

Not many athletes get the opportunity to compete on the world or Pan-American level. Many wrestlers and wrestling fans set alarms for the middle of the night to watch their favorite team compete against the best in the world. Some spectators just wait to see the results pop up on their Twitter feed, but overall many people wonder what it is like to compete internationally. I get asked that question a lot. Whenever I mention that I have competed for Team USA overseas, people immediately want to know what it is really like. Let me take you through what it entails to compete at an international event for Team USA.

First of all, many times Team USA has a training camp before every international event especially world events. The athletes fly either to the Olympic Training Center or an acclimation camp somewhere in the same time zone as the event. I remember for Junior Worlds in 2017 we spent just about two weeks at the Finnish Olympic Training Center, before busing down to the capital to compete. If there is no pre-event camp, all members of Team USA fly overseas together. Teammates come from all over the USA, but we meet up in a common airport before making the big international flight. Let me tell you, cutting weight on an eight-hour flight is a different kind of terrible, but it does make you cherish the airplane food on the way back even more! When you first land in an airport overseas, it is a bit of a shock for those that haven’t been out of the country. When waiting for your bag, you notice that everyone around you is speaking in another language. The airport is a good place to start though, because most airports have a little English on their signs.

Next, Team USA gets on a bus to the hotel. Almost every other team will be at your hotel. The hotel also provides three meals a day and normally has wrestling mats and scales set up in a ballroom or conference room. I never thought I would be able to say I wrestled under a chandelier, but check that off the bucket list! Athletes will walk into breakfast and see the person they are competing against later that night eating at the table next to them. It is a weird, but very cool dynamic. It makes you realize that, no matter what part of the world you are from, everybody is just there to wrestle.

From the hotel, there is a bus that takes you to the venue and you pile in with all your competitors. It is normally an interesting drive down narrow streets. Weigh-ins are done behind a curtain with two officials and you must remember your passport. After weigh-ins, it is warm up time. When it is your time to wrestle, the staff will find you and will give all of your belongings to a kid with a box. Normally, these kids are wrestlers themselves and they volunteer because they are huge fans who want to see everything up close and personal. You are then escorted to the stage you will be wrestling on, hearing them announce your full name and country. Once you get on the mat, everyone is just trying their best to wrestle to their fullest ability.

It is definitely hard to keep the nerves at bay when you are competing on the world stage, both figuratively and literally. Just keep in mind that the clocks count up and not down. Another interesting thing to note about international tournaments is the elimination process. In the United States, tournaments are typically double elimination, but not at international events. They are single elimination with repecharge. This means that once you lose, you are out of the tournament, unless the wrestler you lost to makes it to the finals. One more interesting thing to note is that two people get third place at international events. Besides these small differences, at the end of the day, it is just a wrestling tournament and everyone is trying to be the best. No matter what country is announced with your name, it all just boils down to who is left standing victorious on the mat.

The Essence of Fargo

If you have never made the journey up to Fargo, North Dakota in the middle of July then you are missing out on the main event of High School Freestyle and Greco Wrestling. The United States Marine Corps/ USA Wrestling Freestyle and Greco Nationals are known to most by the city it is held in; Simply Fargo. When athletes show up to this event they immediately see the size of the arena they are competing in. The Fargo Dome not only houses North Dakota State University’s events, but it is also home to a minor league football team and huge name concerts. As a middle or high school wrestler, it is a huge opportunity to compete in such a gigantic venue. The staff at the Fargo Dome make the wrestlers enter through a separate entrance than all of the spectators. This gives these athletes a sense of importance. This dome that can hold 25,000 people and has a special entrance for athletes are not the only attributes that make this venue special. Unlike any other National freestyle or Greco tournament, athletes compete individually in the event, but they represent their team (which is their state).

Many teams travel together and have athletes from all over the state representing their state’s name on their singlet. Sometimes athletes on the same team can be from 3 hours apart, but this is the beauty of Fargo. Not only making friends with teammates from all over the state you live in, but the ability to compete against the best wrestlers in the United States of America and Puerto Rico. For many middle and high school wrestlers, this is the BIGGEST and HARDEST tournament they have EVER competed in. 

I remember personally walking into the Fargo Dome for the first time as a first-year Cadet and noticing that the event had 27 mats. It was a HUGE difference from my previous biggest high school tournament that had only consisted of four mats. Not only is the atmosphere different from any other tournament, so is the wrestling. For many athletes including myself, Fargo is the first tournament they compete in that is Freestyle or Greco. As a Fargo coach, I am often faced with the question, “What if I had never done Freestyle before?, but that is the point of Fargo to expose an athlete to international styles of wrestling. But wait, there is more. It doesn’t just stop with wrestling. Many times when athletes are done competing they make their way outside to the “market”. On the stretch of sidewalk outside the athlete entrance, wrestlers set up gear for other athletes to buy. Wrestlers from every state try to sell and trade wrestling gear to get the coolest gear from that year and the years past. Not to mention, rare wrestling shoes, headgear, calendars, and even backpacks are for sale. When you get sick of the “market” you can always head across the street to Buffalo Wild Wings. A treasured meal after competing is done.

When Fargo is over athletes pile back up into vans, buses, and even airplanes to get back to their state. They bring with them gear from Fargo that will not only make all of their teammates back home jealous but also the ability to say that they went and competed in Fargo.

Korina Blades, Reese Larramendy, and Kennedy Blades with their National Champion from Wyoming Seminary

Korina Blades, Reese Larramendy, and Kennedy Blades with their National Champion from Wyoming Seminary representing their state.

Father’s Day Contest

Father’s Day is around the corner! MyHOUSE Sports Gear has a Father’s Day Contest for the chance to win 14 FREE custom singlets! Who doesn’t like free things? If you are interested to win free singlets follow these rules down below!

  • Dad’s, grab your kids, everyone put on a singlet and make a video nominating 3 other Dads to do the same or donate $25 or more to Beat the Streets NYC.
  • Post your video to Facebook and make sure to tag our page, MyHOUSE Sports Gear and use the tag #MyHOUSEDads. Make sure, you are NOT private. The video only counts if we can see it.
  • If you chose to not make a video and want to donate to be entered in the contest, head over to  https://www.btsny.org/donate and donate at least $25. Under  the “Billing Address” section, check the box next to “Make this gift on behalf of an organization” and type “MyHOUSE Sports Gear” in the box.
  • The Dads who make a video following all of the rules will be put into a random drawing to win 14 free fully custom singlets for their kid’s team.
  • The Dads who make a $25 or more donation must show proof by emailing us at shanice@myhousesportsgear.com, they will be put into a 2nd  random drawing to win 14 free fully custom singlets for their kid’s team.
  • YES, you can make a video and a donation to be entered into both drawings!
  • The contest will end on June 13th at 11:59 pm est. We will choose the winner LIVE on Rise & Grind on June 14th!

More than enough time to enter this contest, HAVE FUN & GOODLUCK!

New Spring Gear

Spring has sprung! While it still may feel like winter outside (at least in NEPA), we have a bunch of new gear for men, women, and baby that’ll get you ready for the warm weather.Our MyHOUSE designers have been busy creating new designs just for you. Check out our brand-new MyCrib singlets, women’s leggings and quarter zips, and men’s singlets and shorts.We’ll be designing and creating new gear for you all spring and summer. Keep a look out and check our online store and social media pages for new items.Can’t find something in our store that you NEED? Send us a message and you just might see gear influenced by you pop up.

PIAA State Teams Championships

The PIAA State Team Championships kicked off on Thursday, February 7th. Thirty-two of the best teams from high schools around PA gathered in the Giant Center in Hershey, PA to compete. Families, friends, and high school cheer teams came out to support their favorite wrestlers all weekend. FloWrestling was even there to stream for all of the fans that couldn’t make it out.There was not a dull moment in Hershey. The roars of cheering could be heard all throughout the Giant Center and MyHOUSE was there to witness it all.Being the official apparel sponsor of the PIAA, MyHOUSE showed up in a big way. All weekend, the MyHOUSE team hosted contests, photo ops, and sponsored the t-shirt cannon.We brought out the 5lb Hersey bar and let fans and wrestlers pose in front of the Address of Champions wall to win some pretty sweet wrestling gear.Chocolate Town, USA served up some great wrestling all weekend. We want to say congratulations to all of the teams that came out. Your hard work and dedication to wrestling does not go unnoticed. Congrats to the AA winner, Reynolds, and the AAA winner, Bethlehem Catholic. If you want to watch recaps of the weekend, head over to FloWrestling to tune in.We’re looking forward to next month at the PIAA State Individual Championships. Our team will be there with more chances for giveaways and more fun! Make sure to stop by our booth if you’re at the Giant Center.

5th Annual MyHOUSE Invitational

MyHOUSE is getting out of the cold Pennsylvania weather and heading to Boca Raton, Florida for the 5th Annual MyHOUSE Invitational. The tournament will be held Friday, February 1st through Saturday, February 2nd at Olympic Heights High School. Last year’s champions, Fleming Island, came in with 282.5 points. Can they reclaim their title? Who will be this year’s MyHOUSE champion? Check out our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for winners, shenanigans and more.

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