OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – It’s been a half-century since Title IX altered the landscape of girls’ sports in the amateur ranks but some changes have been slow coming.
This month, that change finally made its way to the wrestling mats, with the beginning of the first NSAA championship campaign for girls wrestling.
“I’ve had all boys teams, I’ve had mixed teams, now I’ve got my first all-girls team,” said Jay Parker, Head Coach for Burke High School’s girls’ team. “To have this opportunity to come out and set standards for the girls is amazing.”
Girls have wrestled in the state before but they had to do it on boys teams. Britney Taylor was the first girl to claim a medal in the state tournament against boys back in 2009, wrestling for Omaha North’s boys. Now she’s a coach for Burke and was trying to prepare her young wrestlers to face her old school.
“The good thing about it is they’re having fun and they want to come back,” Taylor said after her team lost their meet to North. “Right now I’m trying to instill a team vibe, where all the girls are willing to push each other and work together in order to get better.”
This past weekend, schools around the state hosted the first NSAA all-girls tournaments. At one of the biggest in Nebraska City, the Friday Night Fracas, the Pioneers welcomed 25 girls teams with 166 wrestlers.
“With the growth of what we’ve seen in the last couple of years as a club sport for high school girls, they decided to have it implemented this year,” Nebraska City High School Wrestling Coach Tyler Hodges said, explaining the NSAA’s decision to accelerate girls wrestling from “emerging sport” status to a championship sport in May. “I know in the last three years at the high school level, girls have doubled every year with participation numbers.”
More than 100 colleges across the country have girls wrestling programs, including Midland University, Hastings College and York College in Nebraska. Girls who wanted to wrestle have always had to fight the boys for space on the mats, now in Nebraska, they have the opportunity to make it their own.
“Aggressive is my main thing when I do sports,” said Burke HS freshman Sophia Scott, who despite having only been wrestling for a month is already 4-2 on the young season. “I wanted to do it since I was little, but there wasn’t really a girls division and hearing that there was gonna be one, drove me to try the sport out. I thought it’d be really cool.”
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