By Linda Cheung
While participation in high school sports declined in 2018-2019 for the first time in 30 years, wrestling climbed in popularity. The biggest participation jump was in girls wrestling, which has been growing for 30 years straight. The number of schools with girls wrestling climbed to 2,890, a 22.9% increase from the previous year. It is estimated that 21,124 girls wrestled in 2018-19, a 27.5% increase from the prior school year. This year, sophomore Sarah Munson is the only female junior varsity wrestler on the New Hyde Park Memorial team.
A family member’s involvement in the sport piqued her interest. Her cousin was a wrestler and told her a story about a girl who beat him in a wrestling match and went on to become the first girl to win in her weight class.
“I think I chose wrestling because it seemed like a challenge and a new experience. I overheard something about wrestling during the fall sport season and talked about trying it out. I do not think most people took me seriously, so that prompted me to prove to myself that I am capable,” said Munson.
“...I’m honestly really excited for my first match and to be able to utilize everything I’ve learned thus far...”
Some believe one possible reason why Munson was not taken seriously is because of the rarity for a girl to be in a predominantly male sport.
“Wrestling was always considered a manly sport in society, and it isn’t common for a girl to take up wrestling,” said sophomore Ruth Zachariah.
“I think the reason why women aren’t given the opportunity to partake in certain sports such as wrestling is because they are often perceived as physically weaker than men,” said sophomore Sanaa Mufti.
“Wrestling and other sports such as football have always been considered “too manly” for women to join. Women are seen as timid and fragile. It’s not known for women to be out there, joining such sports,” said sophomore Navpreet Singh.
Munson’s wrestling career has been different from what she anticipated.
“My honest expectations were just general awkwardness and being uncomfortable, but I was fortunately very wrong. The coaches are really welcoming, and the people are really funny and honestly just nice about everything in general. It’s really just a chill atmosphere, and everyone is just there to get the most out of practice,” said Munson.
Source by Anna Detke
Sophomore Sarah Munson goes head to head with her practice partner and implements new moves she learned.
“My experience has been really great so far. I’m learning a lot of new techniques from the coach and the more experienced wrestlers. The workouts and conditioning are challenging, but doing it with everyone else and improving our strength and stamina feels really rewarding afterwards. Even just doing a move right or improving on something I was struggling with is just all around fulfilling. In all, though I am a bit nervous as one might expect, I’m honestly really excited for my first match and to be able to utilize everything I’ve learned thus far,” said Munson.
Navpreet Singh believes having Munson on the wrestling team will serve as inspiration for other girls to join in later years.
“As a girl, Sarah being on the team is the best encouragement. Young girls of the future will see Sarah as one of a kind,” said Singh.