For the first time ever, the historically male Middle School (MS) wrestling team of 10 consists entirely of girls, since no boys signed up and several girls wanted to create an all-female team, MS wrestler Ali Roche ’22 said.
MS Wrestling Coach Henry Kasdon ’98, who has worked at the school since 2002 when girls weren’t allowed to wrestle, said he was surprised by this year’s female turnout. Girls were only officially allowed to wrestle about 10 years ago, but few tried out. Prior to now, only three or fewer girls have participated in a single season, Coach Kasdon said.
Coach Kasdon partially credits wrestling’s ability to teach confidence for the increased participation of girls on the MS team.
“Wrestling is a sport that people don’t usually choose right away because it’s uncomfortable, and some aren’t willing to try it. Wrestling is about getting out of your comfort zone and being more confident in your body,” he said. “When you learn how to fight, and you realize that you can get out of a tough situation, you gain confidence—something that everyone wants—boy or girl.”
Even though the MS team is too young to compete, they meet three times per week to condition and practice wrestling moves, so they will be prepared for the more competitive Upper School (US) seasons.
Ali started wrestling this year and said that even if her friends were to quit, she would continue the sport. She says that wrestling has been beneficial both physically and mentally.
“It’s a fun but challenging sport,” she said. “I like that there are just girls on the team. It feels like a safe space where we all do the same workouts.”
Annie Stockwell ’22, a first-year team member, said she believes the girls aren’t getting the same amount of respect as she thinks boy wrestlers would.
“[Classmates] make fun of us,” Annie said, adding that her peers refer to girls’ wrestling sarcastically.
Currently, two girls and 18 boys wrestle on the Upper School (US) team. The team wrestles against schools across New England, few of which have as great a number of girls. But schools like Thayer, Middlesex, Lawrence, Tabor, St. Mark’s, and Pomfret have a few females on the team.
Abigail Rabieh ’21, who wrestled on the MS team for two years and now wrestles at the US, said she doesn’t mind being on a team with a male majority.
“It’s really great that more girls are getting involved because it shows that they’re stepping out of their comfort zone and becoming more in touch with themselves,” she said.
US wrestler Philip Melki said he was also glad that more girls were wrestling.
“It makes the team dynamic better,” he said. “We haven’t really seen that at BB&N before: girls who stick with wrestling. It shows that anyone can wrestle, [and] it breaks the norm that only boys can fight—girls still have the toughness.”