Redwood girls wrestling pins down stereotypes

Charlotte DeForrest

Assisting the referee, Leyla Ramos, a freshman, is a new member of the Redwood wrestling team.

“[Wrestling] is different than any other team sport that I’ve been on. In other team sports, you’re there to get your teammates better and help them. That’s what we’re doing in wrestling, but we’re beating the heck out of each other while doing it,” Caroline Reidy, a junior and member of the wrestling team, said. 

Redwood’s wrestling team has been largely successful in the past years. Last year, former senior Jaden Ramos was named Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) wrestler of the year. This year, Jaden’s younger sister, Leyla Ramos, a freshman, joined the team, making her and Reidy the only two female participants. Ramos was excited to try the sport after watching her brother’s duels over the years, and was even more excited when Reidy signed up as well. 

While girls wrestling is still uncommon in Marin, women’s wrestling has been experiencing massive growth across the country. According to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, in 1990 only 112 girls participated in high school wrestling. By the 2016-2017 season, participation grew to more than 14,580 female wrestlers.

Although Redwood wrestling has had some female athletes in the last few years, Redwood’s head wrestling coach, Lochlan McHale, hopes to continue growing the women’s wrestling program at Redwood.

“When I was coming through high school in the mid-nineties, women’s wrestling was just starting and, compared to where it is today, it’s a completely different beast. It’s super exciting to watch, and it’s even more exciting seeing it in the Bay Area and in California,” McHale said.

Although Reidy fractured her elbow and is out of competition for the remainder of the season, both Ramos and Reidy have had a positive experience on the team. Practices are held after school for three hours and involve cardio, weight training and learning new techniques. According to Reidy and Ramos, wrestling has taught them time management, dedication and hard work. 

“For me, [wrestling is] a lot about mental toughness. We do a lot of drills, but we also do a lot of cardio. It is really hard on your body and mind, and because it’s three hours of practice a day, it forces you to push yourself to new heights,” Reidy said. “Also, a lot of people see [wrestling] as just pure strength, but it is a lot of strategy. You need to out-think and outsmart your opponent to be able to come out on top. You can take that to your day-to-day life and apply those critical thinking skills so much farther than wrestling.” 

Ramos encourages anyone interested in trying out wrestling to go for it, even if they are apprehensive, because they will learn important life skills, make new friends and be part of a tight knit family.

“There’s fun times and there’s not so fun times, but honestly it is just like having your own little family. Everyone is going through what you’re going through in the wrestling room,” Ramos said. 

Bending down in the ring, Ramos prepares to take on her next opponent. Photo courtesy of Leyla Ramos.

As this year’s condensed season comes to a close, McHale is looking ahead to next year, starting with Ramos and Reidy, whom he hopes will continue to lead the group. 

“[Reidy and Ramos] are strong, independent women that see something that’s attractive to them and are willing to put in the work to get after it. That is really exciting because that’s what life is; you can’t be intimidated. If you have a goal, you have to be able to put one foot in front of the other advocate for yourself and get after it. Those two women definitely do just that,” McHale said.