The start of a new match: Boyer launches new Women’s Wrestling Team

Almost every high school in the United States offers a wrestling team or program. According to a survey by College Wrestling Recruiting in 2016, around 259,000 high school students participated in the sport of wrestling. What you can’t tell by those numbers is that 94% of those students were men and only 6% were women. 

Wrestling originated in ancient Greece and was added to the Olympics in 708 BCE. It was developed as a form of combat to train soldiers to fight the Romans. Many decades later, wrestling became popular in America through television in the 1950s and cable in the 1980s. Soon enough, it reached never-before-seen viewership. Modern high school wrestling began in the 1960s with the formation of the United States Wrestling Foundation, also known as the USWF.

 BHS, part of the USWF, has its own team. Beaverton’s wrestling team has historically been made up of almost entirely men. “One of the biggest problems with establishing wrestling teams, in general, comes down to interest,” said Ryland Boyer, P.E. teacher and coach of the new women’s wrestling team at Beaverton. “This sport is not as popular as others, for all genders. When it comes down to it, we have never had the amount of interest needed to build a women’s specific team. Now, all signs indicate that we finally have the interest to build this team.” 

Wrestling is not the most popular sport. According to the National Wrestling Association, it is the 6th most popular sport in high school, with the most popular being football and soccer. However, things have begun to change. This summer, Beaverton hosted a camp for women interested in wrestling, and the turnout was much greater than expected. Up to 20 women came to try their hand at the sport. High interest in the sport inspired Boyer to create a separate women’s team. The hope is to eventually reach up to 40 team members over the next couple of years.  

With interest in the women’s team rising, it could become a recognized team at BHS. But before the women’s team was established, a couple of women were already wrestling. Maya Barrios, a junior, said she wrestles because it makes her feel “empowered and strong.” 

“The support you get from your teammates is amazing. The encouraging atmosphere is a big reason I continue to come back every year,” said Barrios. It saddened her to know that “there is a large group of girls out there who would make great wrestlers, but don’t have the resources or feel unwelcome due to a school not having a team.” The women’s team has a unique opportunity to get more women and girls participating in the sport. 

It isn’t just BHS forming these new teams. Up to 40 schools in the US are establishing a new women’s wrestling team in the next 10 years. 

“We are hoping that by creating this team, we can help inspire similar pushes in other schools, both in the district and outside,” says Boyer. As wrestling teams gain more traction, he hopes to, “offer the opportunity for everyone to get a chance to experience the thrills of the Mat Room.” In the past, women’s sports have been overshadowed by men’s sports. However, since the turn of the 20th century, more progress has been made to increase equality and popularity in sports, with BHS being a proud contributor.