New Women’s Wrestling

The new girls wrestling team introduced to CHS for fall 2021 season, intends to create a space where girls can feel comfortable tying a new sport

Maddie Misterka

Junior Maria Vega-Lara was a member of the girls rugby team when she was first introduced to wrestling. 

“Our coach told us that she was helping out (with the new wrestling team) and so she encouraged us to join and try it out,” Vega-Lara said.

Prior to this fall, there was only one co-ed team for wrestlers at this school, until wrestling coach Edward Pendowski reached out to girls rugby coach Kelly Romano to discuss how to get more girls involved with wrestling. Romano, despite not having experience with wrestling, agreed to coach the new girls wrestling team.

“(Before then, I had) never wrestled. And (Pendowski) was  like, ‘Well, if you can get the girls and coach them off, then I can show you the wrestling stuff.’ And so that’s kind of what we’re doing,” Romano said.

In addition to the competing team members, the addition of the wrestling team also introduced new opportunities for students to manage a sports team. 

Taylor Whitlow, wrestling team manager and junior, said she was already managing the co-ed wrestling team prior to the creation of a new team, so she now manages both.  She said one of the main things she is looking forward to this season is to get into competitions with the new team. 

“I think (competitions) will function virtually the same as with the co-ed team. It’s still wrestling and has the same schools, so there shouldn’t be that much of a difference as with guys’ tournaments,” Whitlow said. “I’d like to see the team really working in these competitions- making it to girl’s state would be incredible.” 

Romano said she also thinks the team will function similarly to the previous year’s teams, but she sees benefits in having a girls-only team.

“(Pendowski) saw the need to have a wrestling team, where people who identify as female or bornus, female, felt comfortable, and felt like they were able to make mistakes,” Romano said. “ (A place where) they were able to develop their skills, and not have to worry about having males touch on them, or be in that culture of, (male wrestlers) who have been wrestling since they were little guys.”

Vega-Lara said she thinks this sentiment is coming across well to members of the wrestling team. 

“(The team) is just girls, so I feel like (our coaches) can help us with what we need instead of (being) more general with (a larger team) there,” Vega-Lara said. 

Whitlow said she also sees benefits to the creation of the new team. 

“I think a lot of girls are scared of wrestling because it’s (typically) a room full of guys who they don’t know, so creating a community where people feel comfortable is more welcoming.”

Vega-Lara said because of the community she has built within wrestling, she’s excited to see how competitions will work. 

“I’m forward to competitions because we’re a really small group. I feel like it’s gonna be really fun, and we’re going to enjoy competing once we learn how to do it. (I think competing as a whole) is going to be fun,” she said. 

While competing is in the forefront of many team member’s minds, Romano said she primarily wants the members to have a good experience in and outside of the team.

“My ultimate goal for all girls is for them to be 100% successful and whatever they set their mind to,” Romano said. ”I want them to come into every room, every operating room, every courtroom, every wrestling room, every rugby pitch, and just command the room with elegance and grace and be poised and have the confidence to do whatever they want to achieve. That’s the goal.”