Column as I See’em

Why not make it happen?


Contributed by Connie Skinner

Freshman Kyla Johnson and senior Nathan Smith share a hug after Johnson pinned her opponent to win a girls state title. Johnson will wrestle 113lbs for the Cards at sectionals on Jan. 29.

Over the past few years, I have seen an increasing amount of popularity in the sport of girls wrestling. So much so, it has become apparent that the IHSAA needs to sanction it and make it its own sport.
This year alone there were 113 high schools with an average of three or more girls on their wrestling team, according to IndianaMat. Meanwhile, the numbers for boys wrestling have continued to shrink.
IHSAA board member and state finals administrator Robert Faulkins has said in the past that there need to be at least 120 schools with five or more girls on the team in order to make it a sanctioned sport. That is not only going to be extremely difficult to achieve without the help of the IHSAA, but boys wrestling might see numbers dip below that threshold themselves in the next few years.
To add on, there are now 33 states that sanction some type of girls wrestling events or seasons throughout the U.S., according to the National Women’s Wrestling Association.
All of this just proves why girls wrestling must be sanctioned from a logistics viewpoint, but there are still many benefits for individuals and teams as well.
In a combat sport such as wrestling, strength and speed are two of the most important factors when it comes to winning a match. When girls compete against boys, they more often than not are going to be at a disadvantage in strength. This means that they must rely on speed and technique to win matches.
If the IHSAA sanctioned girls wrestling, girls would be able to compete against only other girls and have a season just as the boys do. This would eliminate the unfair uphill battle that girl wrestlers are constantly fighting against throughout the season.
After competing at the boys state finals and coaching at the girls state finals, I realized that there is only one difference between the two tournaments: how they are run. The level of competition and wrestling is just as good and fun to watch as the boys state finals.
Some would argue that there are drawbacks to this, such as changing practices, not being able to compete in the boys season and supplying the same funds to girls wrestling as boys. Those people who say that would be right. However, the benefits of sanctioning girls wrestling would certainly outweigh the negatives.
If girls wrestling becomes a sanctioned sport, more girls would join wrestling and allow for more funds to be brought in.
As a matter of fact, I can still remember crying while hugging freshman Kyla Johnson in my arms after she pinned the fourth-ranked girl in the nation during the Indiana Girls State Finals at the Kokomo Memorial Gym. As the stadium erupted and I let emotions take over me, I realized how important and significant the sport of girls wrestling is to me.
Sanctioning girls wrestling would only allow for more people like Johnson and me to share special memories on the mat together.