Pioneering an Age Old Sport

Girls Wrestling is the fastest growing sport in the country, and it is making its way to Dallastown.

Many+girls+from+grades+6-11+came+out+for+the+Girls+Try+Wrestling+Night+on+April+27+in+the+high+school+wrestling+room.+Girls+wrestling+is+not+currently+PIAA+sanctioned+but+that+may+change+soon.

Staff

Many girls from grades 6-11 came out for the “Girls Try Wrestling Night” on April 27 in the high school wrestling room. Girls wrestling is not currently PIAA sanctioned but that may change soon.

By Evan Atwood, DALLASTOWN AREA HIGH SCHOOL

As an 8th grader at Dallastown Middle School, Olivia Lipinski chose to compete in the start-up girls wrestling program at Dallastown this year.

“It was something different from any other sport I’ve ever done or tried,” Lipinski said. “Some of my guy friends were in the class too so they encouraged me to try it out.”

There are thousands of girls across the country having similar experiences to Lipinski, trying their hand at this age-old sport that is newly available to them.

And it really is coming all through the entire country, having already been adopted in 34 states and 115 colleges.

It was something different from any other sport I’ve ever done or tried.”

— Olivia Lipinski

“It’s a nationwide initiative to provide another opportunity for girls to compete in sports,” Dallastown Head Wrestling Coach Dave Gable said.

Gable, who has coached wrestling at DHS for over 25 years, has played a big part in growing the sport at Dallastown. He has pushed for more nights like the recent “Girls Try Wrestling Night” that occurred on Wednesday, April 27.

“Girls Try Wrestling Night” saw almost 30 girls either return to wrestling, or in most cases, wrestle for the first time.

The event, for girls currently in grades 6-11, started with a video from Wrestle Like a Girl, an organization whose mission is “to empower girls and women using the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life.”

Throughout the two hour session, the girls practiced drills to learn the basics of the sport while parents watched and members of the varsity wrestling team helped to instruct.

“This year, eight girls wrestled (on our junior high school team), the hope is that we can double or triple that number between this year and next,” Gable said.

Based on the number of girls at the “Girls Try Wrestling Night,” they may have already done that.

When asked about Gable, freshman wrestler Jahzari Abney said, “He helps us a lot when we don’t know how to do something right. He’s the best coach I could ever ask for.”

Abney (right) mid-action in a drill at the “Girls Try Wrestling Night”.

Girls Wrestling is in the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) Emerging Sport Program.

According to Dallastown Athletic Director Josh Luckenbaugh, “the PIAA is currently working through the process of determining sponsorship for sports, in this specific case Girls’ Wrestling. To become a sponsored event at the PIAA Level, there needs to be 100 schools that have school board approval as a sponsored sport. Currently throughout the State there are numerous schools who have approved girls wrestling, which has led to the PIAA labeling Girls Wrestling as an emerging sport.”

So, basically, once there are 100 schools who are officially school sponsored, the PIAA will begin the process sanctioning girls wrestling.

As of today, there are 39 programs officially sponsoring girls wrestling and that number is growing rapidly.

Currently, girls don’t officially have their own school team. They can join the school team, as several Dallastown girls did this year, but often have to drill with and wrestle boys at practices and matches.

Once girls wrestling is officially sanctioned in PA, there would be a team for just girls.

This would be similar to Dallastown having both boys and girls teams for sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and basketball.

Why is that important?

According to Lipinski and Abney is would make a huge difference.

“I would feel like I fit in better if I had a whole girls team. It would be more comfortable. My parents had tons of concerns about me competing with the guys,” Abney said.

Lipinksi says that the boys on the team were supportive and helpful, but “it would be nice to wrestle girls in my weight class. Girls just wrestle differently.”

Studies also show that girls are more likely to get involved and to stay involved with wrestling if they have their own team rather than just being a part of the boys team.

The program is already leaving an impact on the girls involved.

“The program is very important for the girls. I’ve seen what it can do for the guys. Self confidence, opportunities at post-secondary schools, connection to school. There are a lot of things that the sport offers that can be beneficial to the girls as well,” Gable said.

The hope is that Dallastown will recognize the sport, and when the PIAA sanctions the sport, create an official DHS team.

For those who may want to try something new in the winter, Lipinski recommends giving wrestling a try.

“It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve all become really good friends.”

This story was originally published on The Beacon on May 17, 2022.