My first reaction to Women’s Wrestling Week was “oh that’s cool”. Then the week started and the news began to flow in.
First, an article from USAW about one of my long time idols Trish Saunders.
She was a thrill to watch, my parents began driving me to Arizona at 8 years old to watch the Sunkist Open where I finally had a chance to see women wrestle and it occurred to me for the first time that I was not alone. I would watch Trish Saunders and Vickie Zummo, and Shannon Williams (Yancey) I was in awe of them and now I had women to look up to. My mom searched for a poster of the women to hang on my wall but there was none so we got Zeke Jones poster and had the women sign it and that hung in my room for many, many years.
Facebook started to trend toward the Women’s Wrestling Week and an old friend and photographer Danielle Hobeika posted some pictures she had taken during my era of wrestling. The mood of the week shifted toward a walk down memory lane. I can say without a doubt wrestling has molded me and built the character I have today.
Yesterday morning I woke up to an article from the UFC featuring Sara McMann, Adeline Gray and Helen Maroulis.
After reading the article I began to realize that this week is about more than just a look back, more than memories with good friends, more than USA Wreslting and the UFC. It means the sport has earned the respect of the people inside the wrestling community and now has earned the respect of outsiders. It means now more than ever women’s wrestling possess the support needed to flourish.
Women are now being welcomed into wrestling rooms and treated as another athlete wanting to learn the skills and lifestyle of a wrestler. USA Wrestling has invited these women into the wrestling room, offering a week of free membership. Girls no longer have to be the athlete in the back of the room searching for a partner to practice with or begging for a coach to walk over and help them understand the new skill. We are now invited in!!
The growth of the sport is without question phenomenal and I believe that if my 3 month old daughter chooses to wrestle at some point she will not be the last person choose for a partner, because she will enter a wrestling room of all girls with a coach who doesn’t say “your wrestling like a girl” in a insulting way.
This week mean’s the sacrifices made by Trish Saunders, Shannon Williams-Yancey, Sara McMann and many others were not taken for granted but have created opportunities for the women following in their footsteps.
By no means are we done yet in many places girls are still going through the struggle to earn their place in a wrestling room, but there is light at the end of the tunnel now. The opportunities for women in the sport continue to grow, women can now wrestling for a college team with an athletic scholarship, they can compete in an all women’s state championship, they can attend an all women’s wrestling camp.
We are a strong bunch and we were never going away, but it sure is nice to see people join in and support. For the sport of wrestling the future is bright as it invites half the world’s population to participate.
Making wrestling fun, especially for young wrestlers is essential. One way to do this is by using a chart to track skill development. The chart below gives young athletes goals, direction and feedback.
Olympic Silver Medalist and UFC Top Ranked Contender Sara McMann will be the feature clinician for MVD's 2015 summer camp.
We are pleased to announce the addition of Sara McMann to the 2015 summer camp staff. Sara has experienced all levels of women's wrestling form a Junior world team member to an Olympic Medalist. Her knowledge of the sport is one of a kind and her mental toughness is unlike any other.
Currently Sara trains as a mixed martial artist for the UFC, she is a top ranked contender pursuing the UFC belt.
"I’m not a very patient person. When it comes to athletics, I think that’s part of my drive. I want to be awesome and I want to be awesome yesterday." - Sara McMann
I have been talking to some of my colleagues lately about the roles of a team. What it means to be on a team and how a team contributes to your success as individual athlete. I loved being on a team whether it was a team of guys or a team of girls.
Looking back now, I have a much different view than I did when I was in the middle of it. I look back at the success we shared together, the memories we made on trips, the banquets where we honored the hardest workers on the team, the jokes we played on our coaches and the life long friends I now have.
When I was in the grind, I remember trying to take the spot of the athlete ahead of me. I remember thinking we are in an individual sport and I’m going to chop you down some day. I remember being on the top of the ladder and people trying to take my spot from me. It was a day-to-day grind and I very much disliked the people who were coming after me. Hindsight is 20/20 and now I see that those people were the best part of my team.
Every teammate has it’s own role. Some people are there to push you and take your spot when you’re not living up to your end of the bargain. Others are there to call you out when you are cutting corners. And then there are those who are there to pick you up when you need a hand. And finally, the jokers who lighten things up a bit. The people I respect the most now are the people who were trying to take my spot. They pushed me to my fullest. The more I saw them getting closer the harder I worked; they were the best teammates I could have asked for.
This lesson is true, for life after competing in sports. You can’t surround yourself with “yes” people. You have to find people who challenge your beliefs and push you to be better. People who are even willing to take your spot if you don’t live up to your role.
I didn’t make the first Women’s Olympic team, but I was a training partner. I look back now and know I can celebrate in our team’s success that year because I was as much a part of that team as the athletes who walked on the mat. We all celebrated and cried together after because it takes more than just one individual to have success.