Monday, December 29, 2008

Pioneer collegiate wrestling program

Jamestown College in North Dakota is making a name for itself with its latest athletic department: women's wrestling.
Because it is one of the few and one of the first programs in the country, Jamestown has been able to recruit from all over the country. The state champion from Hawaii attends! Hawaii to North Dakota. Other schools should take that famous piece of advice from a classic movie: "if you build it..."
It might not be that hard to believe the dominant paradigm of women's wrestling in which people usually envision long hair, bikinis and some kind of viscous substance, is adjustable; but it is a little more difficult to swallow the idea Jamestown AD Lawrie Paulson has that there is no more novelty to women's wrestling. It may be acceptable on that campus now, but broader acceptance is a little more tenuous. Certainly many people attend out of curiosity; what they come away with depends on a myriad of factors--some of which have nothing to do with what they actually saw. Or rather what they see is formed by what they bring in.
One of the 17 first-years on the roster gets that when she notes that people expect to see manly women--large manly women; even if those very same people know that wrestling is divided by weight class. Just like there are large and small men wrestling, there are large and small women.
And most of these wrestlers have had to work against prevailing beliefs about what girls should and should not do and how they should do it.
And lest one think that these wrestlers are coming in as novices--think again. Many started wrestling--despite parental and administrative objections--in middle school!
Women's wrestling is here. It may not be an NCAA emerging sport, but I predict a pretty quick coming out.

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