C. Van BeekFirst meet!
According to Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, ”2022-2023 marks the inaugural season of girls wrestling in Iowa. Girls’ wrestling has experienced exponential growth not only in Iowa, but across the United States. The IGHSAU is proud to have girls wrestling as its eleventh sanctioned sport." Central Lyon-George-Little Rock won their first meet Monday, November 15, with Emerson Kelderman scoring the first historic win and first pin for the new sport.
New head coach for the inaugural season Jeff Jager has been wrestling and/ or coaching for about 38 years. “It is a sport that is very special and important to me. I love to be able to work with kids to pass on what I know and show them how much that sport can do for you whether it’s boys or girls” says Coach Jager. He will still be assisting the boys' team as well, but Jager says he is lucky to work with both the girls and boys of our school district. It’s the love of the sport and sharing his knowledge, not only wrestling, but also getting to know everyone is what he looks forward to when coaching the team. Expectations for the team will be determined after the first couple of meets. Since the sport is new, Mr. Jager will be working at getting the team to be better every day. The main thing Mr. Jager wants is to give the girls the best experience they can have with the sport that has done a lot for him. Whether it is going and defeating the state champ, or not winning a match, it’s the experience that helps you out in some way. “The ultimate goal is to win matches, I get that, that’s everybody’s goal but that’s not going to be our ultimate goal. We will work for getting better at the sport and becoming better people,” says Jager.
The big question! Why was wrestling chosen by IGHSAU for a sanctioned girls’ sport, and not a sport like volleyball for the boys? According to Coach Jager, it is kind of a state thing; girls’ wrestling is an Olympic sport and it is a college sport on any D1 level. Division 2 and 3 colleges are starting to get them too, it’s a college sport now at all levels. A few colleges offer boys’ volleyball teams, but Iowa is a little bit more of a wrestling state so that’s why Coach Jager thinks they brought that first. Maybe someday they will offer some of the other sports as well. The big question asked of both girl and boy wrestlers is whether they think there should be any other gender specific sports at the school like boys’ volleyball? Two wrestling girls think that if there is a chance, boys’ volleyball would be a good idea. If there is interest shown like girls’ wrestling, they should be allowed to start a team since it is starting to be a big thing at the club and college levels.
Upcoming girl wrestlers senior Emerson K. and junior Riley W. both think that having our own girls’ team is a great opportunity for them to try something new and gives them another option to compete outside of basketball during the winter season. They say that the fastest growing high school sport in the U.S. is creating history as the first girls’ wrestling team at Central Lyon, and will help the girls individually by building confidence and getting them in the best shape of their lives! Riley will participate in both basketball and wrestling this winter. She is excited to give them both a shot at the same time and states, “I must make sure that I am working ahead in classes if I am able to continue to keep up on my grades. In a small school, just starting a new program it will be important for both coaches of the basketball team and the wrestling team to work together. I must have open communications with both coaches each day.”
The girls also think starting a girls’ team will benefit the school and the boys wrestling team. “Starting our own team will help benefit the school because it shows that our school is giving everyone an equal opportunity to compete and go to the highest level they can competing. I believe it will benefit the boys because it will give them an opportunity to help teach and work on their skills as well,” says Emerson. Riley adds, “Having our own girls’ program is groundbreaking! I hope to continue to carry on the tradition that the wrestling team has set in the years past into our season. It is exciting and can’t wait to see where this leads.”
Senior wrestlers Gable VB, Simon K., and junior Lane K. agree that having girls' wrestling will greatly benefit the school. It gives more opportunities to the girls. “I think it’s cool the girls are starting their own wrestling team especially for the girls that aren’t out for basketball. It gives them another sport to go out for.,” said Gable. Simon add, “I think girls having their own wrestling team is good to grow the sport of wrestling. Now that it’s sanctioned and a sport in Iowa the girls also don’t have to compete against boys.” Lane said, “I think the girls having their own wrestling team is a great idea. It gives girls a chance to try a new sport they may have never had the opportunity to try before." The boys think having their own team would greatly benefit the school. It gives more opportunities to the girls. But offering boys’ volleyball is a tossup for the boys. They think it would be a great sport to have and very popular, but could interfere with football.
Former CL-GLR alumni wrestler Donovan Morales thinks that having a girls’ wrestling team is awesome; he loves seeing more and more people getting involved with the sport. Donovan is not quite sure why they didn’t make it an actual sport earlier, yet he did see some girls wrestling on their own. “I think that they were the ones to start it all for the girls showing that boys were not the only ones to play this sport,” says Donovan. Now that it has grown in popularity for girls to wrestle, more schools are getting it set up for them to wrestle. "We are in the best state for wrestling, sooner or later it was bound to be. Now I can cheer on two teams rather than one in the sport that I love!” says Donovan Morales. Another CL-GLR alumni wrestler Dylan Winkel thinks that having a girls’ team is great way for the girls to start a new sport that may teach them a lot about themselves and teach them life lessons like it did for him. Dylan also believes that starting a girls’ team will greatly benefit the school, because for girls that don’t do sports they may try wrestling and really like it and it will lead them to do better in class and will lead them to get good grades so they can wrestle.
Everyone seems to agree that wrestling is a great opportunity for high school girls. Good luck to the team!