Girls wrestling on the rise

A growing team and community

by Serena Deranleau, staff

For years, when the blue foam mats were rolled out on the ground in the gym and wrestlers began to take the floor, it would be rare to see a full girls team, but come to a wrestling match now and you’ll be met with a completely different story. 

Girls’ participation in wrestling has been growing steadily in recent years. This has been seen at our own school, as for the first time, Shorewood kicked off its wrestling season this year with a girls’ team. 

Kiana Yoshimura, a current junior on the team, said “we have seven girls now, so we get our own budget, and our own coach as well.” Yoshimura began wrestling in the Shoreline School District in seventh grade. They already participated in martial arts and had cousins who were on Shorewood wrestling, so when their dad suggested that they start wrestling, they said, “‘sure, I’ll give it a try’.”

Participating in taekwondo and wrestling full time on the weekdays, and switching between the two on weekends, Yoshimura has a busy schedule with sports. “At first I was one of the few girls on the team,” they said, “but since I’ve been wrestling at Shorewood there’s been more and more girls.”

 Among the new girls on the team is freshman Izzy Crave. She became interested in wrestling in a similar manner to Yoshimura. “My dad was a big wrestler growing up. He wrestled all through high school and all through middle school,” she said. “It’s been a thing he wanted me and my older sister to do for a while so I got into it.”

The COVID-19 disruption that many athletes have faced has prevented Crave from wrestling with a school-affiliated team until this season, but she is hopeful to wrestle all four years of high school.

Before more girls joined wrestling, competitions looked quite a bit different. “We were wrestling in scrambles, which was four teams put together from four different schools, because there weren’t enough girls,” Yoshimura said. “(Now) we get to go to more girls tournaments and actually wrestle as a team.”

Yoshimura said that in their time wrestling along with the boys’ team, not all was bad. “It can be fun too, the guys are pretty nice, sometimes,” they said. Crave agreed, saying that “it makes you feel really good after you beat a guy.” The two of them both said the sport being male dominated was never a very big deal, only intimidating at first. 

“It can get really nerve-racking because you’re on the mat and it’s just you and one other person and people are looking at you, but you just need to keep your head in the game,” Yoshimura said. “More girls should join wrestling!”

Both of them once again harmonizing the same sentiment: “It’s definitely an intimidating sport when you first start it, but it’s really really fun and it’s definitely one of the tougher sports but it’s just a lot of focus,” Crave said. “It’s a tough sport, but it’s really awesome to see girls in it.”