The Dark Side of Girls Wrestling- Orianna’s story
- Editor’s Note: Although we want to see the expansion of girls wrestling, not everyone is blessed with great coaches and supportive teams at their school. We want to present this story of Orianna’s wrestling journey to share the full truth and hardships of girls wrestlers. Thank you Orianna for sharing your adversity and inspiring us with your grit!
I remember entering high school, wanting to make a difference and make the most of the next four years. Good thing for me, my best friend that I actually met through volleyball tryouts, had the same goals. That’s when we decided to try something no one would’ve thought. That was when we first tied up the laces on our wrestling shoes and stepped out on the mat.
Our first day I remember walking into the wrestling room feeling super nervous. Although we were both beginners, we were dedicated to learning the sport. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the same dedication from some of the coaches. One of the coaches was incredibly rude to me. I remember us needing help on a move and he just rolled his eyes and walked away. Later in the practice, when we would drill the moves we knew (which were very few), he made us two girls go to the back and practice in the corner with very minimal space. This treatment was not what we expected at all.
On our very first tournament, we were coached by two of our friends on the boy’s JV team. It felt like we weren’t important enough to even have a coach in our corner. The next week we were asked to clean the boy’s mats because the “girls had to do it.” I had no problem doing so, but it felt wrong. We couldn’t even have a practice without being looked at disgustingly and we had to help clean. I wanted to quit so bad because I didn’t feel welcomed. Just fighting to be on the team, was mentally and emotionally draining.
We couldn’t even have a practice without being looked at disgustingly and we had to help clean. I wanted to quit so bad because I didn’t feel welcomed. Just fighting to be on the team, was mentally and emotionally draining.Orianna Morales
I remember one time during my sophomore year I hurt my wrist and I wasn’t able to lift weights during our thirty-minute weight-lifting time. When I explained the injury to the head coach, he just told me to leave and told all the boy wrestlers, “See boys, this is why girls don’t wrestle, they either get pregnant or quit!” When I heard those words, I was shocked at how much support I actually had:
Competing in a high-contact sport wasn’t new to me, but it was the team atmosphere that I couldn’t stand. When I told my parents about how we were being treated at every practice, we discussed me possibly quitting. My parents wanted to go talk to the coaches directly and even wanted to go to the district. However, I knew that if they did, it would make things worse. I really wanted to learn the sport and make it far into a state competition one day. So we both decided to just deal with it.
Just because I didn’t have the several years of experience behind me, it seemed to them that I had no potential. I was put down by two members of the coaching staff when all I ever wanted was acceptance and support.
Even after making my school’s first girl’s team of eleven girls, it is sad to say that it did not get any better my junior year. Some say that this event was an accident but many say he should’ve known better. Another coach who volunteered to coach us was showing a double-leg and picked me up and slammed me on my back. I wasn’t expecting to be picked up and slammed so I didn’t resist. I ended up landing right on my tailbone. Pretty much everyone in the room saw it and said it didn’t look gentle. After I explained what happened to my parents, they went to the school to talk to him and the girl’s coach. They both claimed it didn’t happen and even the coach for the girl’s team didn’t stick up for me. I wasn’t surprised because he never stood up for us even when the boy’s head coach made negative comments about the girl’s team or didn’t want to share a wrestling room with us.
The official girl’s head coach that was hired my sophomore year was a good sign for the team. However, he consistently put me in weird positions because he would talk to me about other girls on the team. He would ask me questions about them and there were moments where he would put girls down. He would question our sexual preferences and was always trying to get into our personal lives. He didn’t understand that it shouldn’t be any of a coach’s business.
Several girls that were on the team have told me that being on the team has caused them anxiety when talking about the sport. Even remembering what happened during the season makes them distressed. It shouldn’t ever be like that. Girls should be able to participate in any sport without having to deal with an unsupported system.
It shouldn’t ever be like that. Girls should be able to participate in any sport without having to deal with an unsupported system.Orianna Morales
Even through all these experiences I was able to achieve League, Area, and Regional titles my junior year. I managed to place at the CIF State Championships while currently being ranked 4th. These struggles led me to become an inspiration to other young girls and even for myself. In the midst of these challenges, I have become a stronger woman and athlete for myself, my family, and for the future of girls in sports. I want to use my story to help bring awareness to how girls are still being treated just for wanting to be involved in this sport. It isn’t right and there needs to be change.