Wait…. What about us?

Some would say that sports are the center of our entertainment, the center of our society.

But I want to ask you, when I ask you to think of a sport, what comes to mind? Football, basketball, baseball?

What about the best athletes? Payton Manning, Lebron James, Jackie Robinson?

But wait.

Where in that do the women come in?

Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, Alex Morgan.

Would you have even thought about them if I hadn’t mentioned their names?

On many levels, there is a gap in gender and sports.

Especially in those male dominated sports.

Sports where men have traditionally been the only ones participating. But now, times are changing. Women want to participate. They want to compete. And they want to be seen doing so.

I will say that yes, women’s sports are still new in comparison, and that can account for that gap, but often times, the governing body is another reason; if not the biggest reason.

The NCAA is the governing body of all college athletics, and it contributes to a huge gap in the inequality of coverage, promotion, and popularity of women’s sports.

Take basketball for example…

The NCAA hypes up mens basketball considerably more than it does women’s basketball. The National tournament is the height of the entire basketball season for both genders, however, it is more highly publicized on the mens side.

“March Madness”. It is probably one of the most talked about sporting events in all of college sports, but yet do you ever hear about the women’s tournament? Perhaps occasionally, but nowhere near on the same level.

So what about us?

The women.

What do we have to do to get our competitions seen?

We need to keep competing, keep working hard, and keep fighting for equality in sport.

Maybe one day the NCAA will take notice and level the playing field. Maybe they will give women’s sports the publicity it needs to continue to grow.

However on the contrary, there are some governing bodies have done a good job at trying to create equality.

The governing body of sports in California; California Interscholastic Federation or CIF has done just that. In an effort to be forward thinking and in response to the rapid growth of women’s wrestling, the CIF sanctioned the men’s and women’s state meet to be on the same day, in the same venue, with the same fans, awards and publicity that comes with this prestigious tournament. The CIF has also done this for basketball, track and field, and many other sports.

So it can be done.

Now why isn’t the NCAA doing this? Perhaps it all comes down to money? Maybe it’s in the works? Only time will tell.

Until then, we need to keep fighting to bridge the gap.

Emerging Sport Status

Women’s wrestling was just granted NCAA Emerging Sport Status after a vote last week.

According to the NCAA website, “an emerging sport is a women’s sport recognized by the NCAA that is intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women and more sport-sponsorship options for the institution..” It is required that Division I and II sports must gain at least 40 programs, among other standards, in order to be considered to gain that status.

On January 25, 2020, the NCAA Convention voted to grant Women’s Wrestling (and a few other sports such as acrobatics and tumbling) Emerging Sport Status for Division II and III. (Division I is still yet to vote on this later in the year)

What a huge leap forward in the promotion of Women’s Wrestling.

So what does this mean for women’s wrestling?

Adding wrestling to the NCAA is another way to increase the popularity, visibility and accessibility of women’s wrestling in Universities across the nation.

There are now more women portrayed in the College wrestling scene for younger girls to look up to than ever before. With the entrance into the NCAA, that will only increase tenfold. It is very important for young athletes to be able to see people like them, doing what they do, at an elite level. These college athletes can now be seen as role models for the up and coming generation.

Women’s programs in many cases can help to save men’s programs at some schools that are struggling. Many schools like Boise State, UC Davis and many others have lost their men’s wrestling programs in the last 10 years. Adding women’s programs to schools like these will help schools to comply with Title IX , and therefore help to save men’s programs.

Colleges are adding women’s wrestling programs at a incredibly fast rate, and as time progresses, girls will one day no longer have to chose between academics and wrestling. For years, girls in high school have had to make the decision to either go to the school that is popular and well known; one that they have had family go to or have heard about for years and years, or one that has a wrestling program. Granted, many of these colleges with women’s programs are great schools with wonderful facilities, but with the introduction of women’s wrestling into the NCAA, these girls will have so many more options.

USA National team coach Terry Steiner in this article by USA Wrestling quotes how, “as a sport, we have been fighting for many years to create opportunity for girls and women’s to wrestle at all levels… this decision gives complete legitimacy for the sport.”

This decision is the first of many in the realm of women’s wrestling and the NCAA, and is just a starting point for all the great things that are to come.

Happy New Year!

It’s now the year 2020, and how crazy it is that it’s already here. With a new year comes a season for change, and improvements, and LOTS of wrestling!!!

January is one of the busiest months for college wrestling on both the men and the women’s side. It is a preparatory time to get athletes ready for their NCAA and NAIA Nationals in the coming months; the work that is put in now is what will show later on at those tournaments.

One of the biggest tournaments this month on the women’s side is the NCAA and NAIA National Duals in Louisville, Kentucky. This tournament is one of the only dual tournaments that exists in the women’s division, and is great to showcase the teams and how they compare to each other.

Top contenders for this tournament for the NCAA division are McKendree University and Simon Fraser University. McKendree returns as the champions of this tournament in 2019, and will be looking to defend that title. They come in with standouts Alex Glaude, Alara Boyd, Kori Bullock and Felicity Taylor to name a few. Simon Fraser comes as a powerhouse school that has placed top 3 in the National Tournament for over 10 years. They too head to this tournament with some great girls to look out for; Alex Hedrick, Lauren Mason, Nicole Depa, Alyvia Fiske, and Emily Cue among many others on their squad.

Top contenders for the NAIA division are returning WCWA Champions Menlo College and Campbellsville University. Menlo heads to this tournament as the reining WCWA Champions, and fields girls of a high caliber to watch out for; Alleida Martinez, Gracie Figueroa, Solin Percey and Precious Bell. Campbellsville comes in strong as the winner of this tournament in 2018, and brings many good girls including Abby Nette, Charlotte Fowler, Katlyn Pizzo, and Kenya Sloan.

There will be a lot of good wrestling this weekend, and at the end, both a NCAA and an NAIA Champion. This is the first time that the tournament has been split into a NCAA and an NAIA division, and it is just the beginning of a new kind of college women’s wrestling. Good luck to all the teams competing!

Check out this article to get even more about the tournament and those teams competing there.

Head to @loloslowdown as a new place to check out some more women’s wrestling coverage! Also shoutout to @wreaperwrestling for their continued coverage of the women’s divisions!

The Wrestling Room

A place of pain,

A place of comfort,

The wrestling room is a paradoxical place. It represents strength and vulnerability. Competition and cooperation.

For many wrestlers, their wrestling room is a type of home. They know it, the routine, and people who are associated with it, and they feel comfortable there. On the contrary, it is also an uncomfortable place. It is where wrestlers have to move out of their comfort zone and to try new things. Where they often fail over and over again to eventually become better.

Many friendships are formed in a wrestling room; there’s just something about suffering, working hard and accomplishing something with people that creates a bond like no other. Some of my best friends have been made in a wrestling room (or in multiple wrestling rooms). The camaraderie of wrestling is unlike any I have ever seen before. There forms a brother or sisterhood between people, and you know that your people have your back.

It is a place of failure but also a place of improvement. Practices are hard, and often require a lot of trying over and over again. You have to put your moves to the test, and most of the time they don’t work on the first try, or the second… but maybe on the 102nd try. As they do work in the wrestling room, people are broken, but champions are made.

Long days and nights are often accompanied with wrestling. Coming early to practice, or staying later after to get better. The wrestling room lays wait for wrestlers to come take advantage of being on the mat. Competitions and tournaments are all day events, and so those long days are a time to show what you have been doing in your long practice days.

It is a place of respect. Respect of your coaches, your teammates, the mats, and respect of yourself. In our wrestling room, we listen to our coaches, do what they say, and shake their hands after practice. You respect your teammates, even if you don’t like them; part of that respect means not going easy on them, and being a good partner. Helping them when they need it, and lifting them up when necessary. You respect your opponents and their coaches. You both are trying to be the best, and you need to recognize and respect that. You respect the mats and other equipment that is needed for the sport. And you respect yourself. You hold your head high, keep your composure, and work hard to reach your potential.

The wrestling room is so many things depending on who you ask. A place of learning, of strength, of hard work.

For me, it is all of those things… it is home.

Time to Compete

It’s October, that means not only spooky season, but wrestling season.

November is when it all starts! (With the exception of some preseason competitions at the end of October)

For SFU, it all starts on Saturday!

The women will compete in their first tournament on Saturday in Calgary Alberta; the ‘Dino Open’. This tournament is a common first competition of the year for SFU, and serves as a good meet to get the team back into the competition mindset along with getting in some good matches with other teams from Canada.

The Men will kick off their season with the SFU Open on November 2nd. This is an international tournament for the men and women and will bring in some great competition for both sides from both Canada and the US.

The Women’s team is looking strong this year, returning as the runner up at the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) National Championships. They will be losing two-time National Champion Dominique Parrish, but will have a lot of great talent returning and incoming for next year.

There are a lot of good women this year for the Simon Fraser Clan, and according to an article by American Women’s Wrestling, there are quite a few girls ranked in the WCWA. Some girls to look out for this year include Junior Ciara McCrae, Redshirt Junior Lauren Mason both ranked 3rd in their respective weight classes, Juniors Alex Hedrick and Alyvia Fiske both ranked 2nd, and Sophomore Serena Woldring ranked 2nd as well. Redshirt Senior Nicole Depa will be returning this year off an injury and will be looking to claim her first title after three 2nd place finishes.

The women’s team will also be adding 10 new members including sisters Karla and Ana Godinez Gonzalez, both National team members for Canada. Ana also comes off this summer as the Junior and Senior National Champion and World Team Member. Other girls to keep an eye on this year are Khaya MacKillop, and Victoria Seal.

As this new season begins, the Simon Fraser University Women’s Wrestling team looks ahead with hopeful eyes. With a strong returning team, they are hoping to continue past traditions of performing and representing the Clan well. They have high goals, and will be working hard to prepare for tournaments starting this weekend and all throughout the year.

The women will be competing in the WCWA National Championships in February, but will also be adding a NCAA National tournament for the first time in history. With a team full of good girls and a season full of good tournaments, the team has high hopes for this year.

Stay tuned for some great wrestling to come!

Women’s College Wrestling

“So do you wrestle for your school? With the boys?”

I get a lot of questions about wrestling, but this one (and ones similar to it) is probably the most commonly asked…

So, here’s some clarification.

The answer is yes, I wrestle for my school, Simon Fraser University. SFU, among many other universities, has a men and a women’s wrestling team. (Follow them on Instagram and Facebook @SFUWrestling) There are about 25 girls on my team from all over the United States and Canada.

Since SFU is an NCAA school, our boys wrestle with the other NCAA schools. Women’s wrestling however is not an NCAA sanctioned sport yet, so the schools with programs formed their own governing body known as the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association or WCWA. This is the organization that puts on our National tournament, and regulates the teams to ensure fairness and equality. There is a National Tournament every year in February, and last year there were over 60 teams competing.

But this year, along with the WCWA tournament, there will be an NCAA tournament as well! Exciting!

This summer, women’s college wrestling earned “emerging sport status“, one of the first steps in introducing it into the NCAA full time. A decision backed by many wrestling organizations including USA Wrestling and the US Olympic Committee as well. Check out this article for more information on that decision.

This is an exciting time for women’s wrestling, and introducing the sport into the NCAA will open doors for women and girls everywhere. Now, girls coming out of high school will not have to choose between a school where they want to go to for academics and a school where they want to go for wrestling. Many times, girls have to look at a school they want to go to, but doesn’t have wrestling, or another school that has it, so they have to choose between the two. Nicole Depa, one of the captains of the SFU wrestling team said that she thinks it is “about time! And it will be a great thing for women’s wrestling and sports in general.” Women’s wrestling is actually the fastest growing sport in the United States, which makes this announcement so exciting for girl wrestlers now and years to come.

These girls who wrestle are amazing. (And yes I may be a little biased) But they have high hopes and dreams, work hard, and create an environment for others to be their best as well. On my team, we have many girls on the National or World team for Canada and the United States, and this year, we have quite a few Olympic Hopefuls.

Another question I get is, “Is there women’s wrestling in the Olympics?”

And to that, I say yes, there is women’s wrestling in the Olympics.

Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in history, and the men have been competing in the Olympics since 708 BC, but the women first competed in the Olympics in 2004. This is the ultimate goal for a lot of women who wrestle, and that is what they are working towards.

So yes, there is a lot going on in realm of women’s wrestling, but just wait; it’s only just begun.

Gettin’ Money

Right now as it stands, NCAA athletes cannot be paid for doing their sport while in college. But that could change…

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation allowing University athletes in California to be paid for their names and talents. The Fair Pay to Play Act was signed at the beginning of the month, and already other states are looking to potentially do the same. This act will go into effect in 2023.

Right now, in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) athletes cannot be paid for the sports they play. They can receive scholarships, and funding from their school, but they cannot be paid for their appearances, advertisements or their image based off of their skills as an athlete.

So, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

This could be a great idea for athletes who’s schools are not able to offer a full scholarship, to allow them to receive other money elsewhere. Often times too, with everything that comes with being an athlete, practice session, lifts, team meetings, they are not able to then get a job outside of their sport, so anything outside of what an athlete is getting scholarships from their school for would not be covered. Also, this will get rid of the under-the-table offer transactions, and it would create a free market, that operates in transparency and is consistent throughout their respective sport.

Some however, think this is not a good thing.

In an article by NBC News, the NCAA board of governors said it was “harmful, and [they] believe unconstitutional”.

This could allow for schools with more money to essentially “buy” athletes and pay them more money to come to their school. Also, it would allow for athletes in sports that are more popular; like football and basketball to be paid while students in the less popular sports; like cross country or swimming to not be paid. Also, this would essentially create professionals in a university sport, and while doing so, put these athletes on a pedestal above all of the other students at that university.

There are many different opinions on this issue. This could be the beginning of a new era of college athletes…

Will other states and colleges adopt this policy or one similar to it? Or will it fizzle out and become something that almost happened?

Only time will tell