Extraordinary Girls: Meet Joyce, a 16 Year Old Wrestler

By | March 15th, 2011 | 3 comments

I’ve been thinking about all the amazing things girls my age are doing, and I’ve decided to start interviewing teenage girls who break the mold. I’m starting out with Joyce, a sixteen-year-old wrestler on a co-ed team who’s kicking butt!

FL: What made you join the wrestling team?

Actually joining the team started as a joke…then I started actually considering it. I love trying new things, whether it is new food or new activities. I also really love to move around and get exercise, and I felt that wrestling would be a good thing to do in the winter. I’d never played another sport with as much contact as wrestling, and the only other co-ed team that I’d been on was my school track team in 7th and 8th grade (but there was no contact there and I only competed directly against girls.)

FL: Before joining the wrestling team, had you ever heard of women wrestling? What was your impression of female wrestlers?

I realized that women’s wrestling existed but I never really thought about it. I knew that there were a few girls on the team last year, but other than that I thought of it as primarily a guy’s thing. I didn’t really know any female wrestlers other than the girls on the team last year and they all seemed incredibly confident. The picture I had had of women wrestlers was that they were really strong and “butch,” but now when I think about women’s wrestling I associate it with the girls on the team.

FL: Did you have any inhibitions about joining a team with boys?

I did think that it would be a strange experience to be doing such a high contact sport with guys.

A family friend laughed at me when I first brought up that I was considering it. She asked if the team would just be girls and when I told her that I would actually be part of the boys’ team (I think it’s listed under “Boys Wrestling”) she asked if I was concerned about wrestling boys. I actually wasn’t. I’ve always felt incredibly satisfied when I can beat boys at athletic activities (even in 5th grade I used to race and arm wrestle the boys) and I was excited by the idea of a challenge.

She brought up that I would be getting sweaty with teenage boys while wearing very little clothing and the sexual implication sort of bothered me at first. But, I decided that I would be approaching it as a sport, so I wasn’t going to let that concern me. The guys were also getting sweaty in minimal clothing with other guys because they saw it purely as a sport, so why should the fact that I was a girl stop me?

FL: What was your first time wrestling like? What about your first time wrestling a boy?

The first time I wrestled was so intense. It was also the first time I wrestled a boy. I had been practicing and learning moves for about a month. When my coach went down the line-up and read out that he was putting me in, my heart started beating really quickly. I was both incredibly excited and nervous at the same time. The other team didn’t have any girls so I knew I would be wrestling a boy. In practice I was best at defense so I resolved that I would not let myself get pinned even if I couldn’t win. A wrestling match consists of 3 two-minute periods if neither wrestler gets pinned.

During that match I fought back for the full 6 minutes.I didn’t have any sense of awkwardness at the fact that I had my body pressed up against a guy’s because I was too busy thinking about trying to push up to get back up to my feet. I ended up losing, but I was satisfied that I didn’t get pinned in my first match ever. I felt like I had fought as hard as I could have and I hadn’t given up.

I was also proud because the other coach told me that I was the best girl he had ever seen wrestle.The captains on the team said that I was a really strong fighter and that I had done better than they had expected.

FL: Has anyone ever said anything teasing or derogatory about your being a wrestler? What do you find people’s reactions usually are?

At one meet a guy on the other team said rudely and jokingly to his friend that he didn’t need to worry because he was going to be wrestling a girl, talking about another girl on my team (UGH THAT MADE ME SO MAD WHEN HE WON!).

People are normally surprised. They also want to know why I decided to join. I guess the primary reaction is curiosity. Before the season started, my friends said they were scared for me because they thought I would get crushed (but that’s really not an issue because I am wrestling guys or girls who are the same weight as I am so they can’t exactly crush me).

FL: What advice would you give to other girls who are looking to break into a seemingly scary activity?

JUST TRY IT! Give yourself a week to decide before rejecting it right away. I decided that I would go to wrestling practice for one week before I decided if I wanted to be on the team for sure. I grew to really like the team and wrestling itself. Although I was SO frustrated after the first day because I was just so confused about how to do the moves, but they got so much easier after just three days of practice.

FL: What has been the best thing to come of your wrestling?

Recently the mother of our male captain said something to me that made me feel really powerful. She was talking to me after my first meet, and she said that she thinks that if a girl can wrestle a guy, then she can do anything.

Fiona Lowenstein is a high school junior, weekly guest blogger and Girls Leadership Institute alumna. Read more of her work here.

3 Responses to “Extraordinary Girls: Meet Joyce, a 16 Year Old Wrestler”

  • A George says:

    Uhm where did you get your information about bone size, I agree with most of what you said, but the actual muscle size issue isn’t quite right. There is the effect of testosterone on muscle, that’s why Men (not Boys) who have worked on there legs hard and matured have stronger legs than women even of the same size. Also boys are not mature in there brain as much as girls, and that was always known since I was kid. That makes a difference too.

    I think that besides the lower body strength that girls have and at least in adolescence can be stronger than a boy,the main strength of the female in the legs is lower center of gravity and flexible hips. It takes a man much more time and practice to get their hips as flexible. That’s why in Jujitsu you see some of the girls able to do submissions from crazy positions because this hip flexibility. Same is true of girls wrestling against boys.

    The other issue because there are plenty of boys that are stronger is that they wrestle like they are wrestling against another boy? Weird, I think that’s bad coaching. You always need to train for your opponent to deal with their strengths and the really good girl wrestler brings a different game to the mat.

    I think it’s great Girls are into this, its evolving the sport

  • David Goldcoin says:

    People think it is awesome when a girl wrestler pins a boy. They think that the boy had an advantage just being a male. But truth is its the girl that has all the advantages!. Why? Because in wrestling they wrestle according to weight which realy corelates with bone size. Bone size determines muscle size which determines strength. This means that when a girl wrestles a boy of equal bone size he can not have a bigger muscle than the girl because his bone size being the same as her’s will not allow him to grow a bigger muscle.

    This should mean that they would have equal muscle size and therefor strength if it were not for recent scientific discoveries that female muscle of the same size as the male’s is actualy a little stronger and has more flexability and more endurance. This means the girl wrestler of equal bone size when compared to the boy wrestler has a strength, flexability, and endurance advantages over the boy wrestler!
    It gets even worse for the male because when they determine bone size they measure wrist size. But girls have bigger bones in their hips, thighs and pelvic area that nature gave girls for child bearing purposes which they don’t meassure when considering bone size which means since bone size determines muscle size girls can develop bigger muscles in their thighs, hips and buns than males which is why you see girls using the grapevine to spread eagle boys in wrestling matches which give girls control over the boy’s body and often inflict pains in the boy’s hips. This is why you seldom see boy wrestlers use their legs aganist a girl. They don’t have the power to challenge the girl. The girls on the other hand use their superior leg strength quite frquently. There are two girl wrestlers Lani and Joey who win the majority of there matches aganist boys by using the grapevine.
    Boy wrestlers should be coached to avoid letting girls use their legs on them because they don’t have the strength to resist and will find themselves in pain and being pinned.
    So as it turns out males only have a strngth advange over a girl when they are bigger boned but in wrestling that is never going to happen. So females are actualy stronger than males of the same bone size. Boys on adverage are stronger than girls only because males on average are bigger boned. Take that advantage away as they do in wrestling and it is the girl wrestler who have all the advantages.

    • Jason says:

      Point well made about how often you see girls rely on leg scissors and grapevines to control their opponents and how rarely guys use these techniques. This evidence proves that girls have stronger hips and legs pound for pound which is one reason why girls currently have an advantage at wrestling. Also; guys train against guys and girls train against guys so girls know to use their legs to counterbalance the guys upper body strength, but when guys lose to girls it’s usually because they weren’t ready for the girls flexibility and superior leg strength.

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