Women Wrestlers Embrace Sport’s Challenges and Opportunities

Members+of+NAs+Womens+Wrestling+team+pose+after+practice+on+November+19th%2C+2021

Dan Heckert

Members of NA’s Women’s Wrestling team pose after practice on November 19th, 2021

Eva Kynaston, Staff Writer

Entering a sport that is predominantly centered around boys can be intimidating. For Sophomore Leyna Rumpler and Freshman Brenna Collery, it has also created an empowering environment in which they have found many new opportunities.  

However, being on the women’s wrestling team still comes with many challenges, many of which correlate with the lack of foundations of this new sport. Wrestling for North Allegheny’s varsity women’s wrestling team and Pitbull Wrestling Club, Freshman Brenna Collery says, “This sport pushes gender norms and definitely makes people see you differently.” 

In the article High School Girls’ Wrestling Continues Rapid Growth, USA Wrestling Hall of Fame member Gary Abbott says, “In the early years, girls only had the opportunity to participate on the boys wrestling team at their high school. This was not an easy task. It took a great deal of courage to wrestle, not only because of the physical disadvantage but also because it was not yet accepted by society for girls to train and compete against boys in a combat sport like wrestling. In spite of this, the number of girls competing in high school wrestling increased, year after year after year. They were the true trailblazers for girls high school wrestling.” 

Wrestling for NA’s varsity women’s wrestling team and Pitbull wrestling club, Collery agrees. “Women’s wrestling is the fastest growing sport in the world, more and more colleges are starting women’s teams every year,” says Collery. 

North Allegheny’s women’s wrestling team has been around for only two years, showing the recentness of this sport. “Women have wrestled among men for years,” says Collery, “our own sport of wrestling only women is newer, and many girls still get stuck wrestling men.” 

Once you join wrestling, you gain and a lot of respect from other people, and people see you as strong and powerful.”

— Breanna Collery

Additionally, Sophomore Leyna Rumpler, who wrestles for Team PA, NA’s varsity women’s wrestling team, in addition to Pitbull Wrestling Club, is hopeful for Pennsylvania’s future for women’s wrestling. 

Rumpler says, “Once we hit a certain number of schools who develop a women’s team is that we can qualify for an emerging sport. That means that even though we don’t have the 100 school minimum, the state will have a very slim chance of making it so that women’s wrestling isn’t sanctioned across the state.” 

While women’s wrestling has a short history, the future of this sport is promising. Hopeful of the future of women’s wrestling, Rumpler and Collery agree that being part of the team has and will have an impact on their lives.

Rumpler, who has only been wrestling for a year, explains how her wrestling career has progressed: “Just a year ago I was learning all the basic things, and now I’m a national wrestler representing Pennsylvania. I’ve traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fargo, North Dakota, Greensboro, North Carolina, and tri-state West Virginia” 

Brenna Collery knows that her experience since starting wrestling in the winter of 2020 has changed her. “Once you join wrestling, you gain and a lot of respect from other people, and people see you as strong and powerful,” she says. 

As well as gaining confidence in themselves, Rumpler explains that wrestling has made an impact on her life through social experience. “My favorite thing about the team is the connection, “ says Rumpler, “We all get so close so quickly because we’re with each other 24/7. We travel together and we bond so much, and at tournaments, we’re always having fun.”

Concurring with Rumpler’s experience, Collery summarizes, “This sport has changed my life by making me more confident, giving me my best friends, and teaching me how to push my body to do amazing things.”