Mason girls hit the mat this season for Comets Wrestling Program
Braden Osborn | Staff Writer & Chronicle Sports Staff
Mason High School has finally pinned down equal opportunity on the wrestling mat.
This winter marks the first year that MHS will field an entire girls’ wrestling team. Not only is this a year of firsts for the Mason program it is the first time wrestling for several young women who have decided to venture out onto the mat.
Sophomore Camy Etheridge and Junior Emma Schatzel made the decision to give wrestling a shot. Despite some apprehension and maybe even a little doubt about what their peers would think about girls taking up the sport of wrestling Etheridge decided she was going to control her own destiny and not let other people try to make up her mind.
“The day I went to sign up I felt like it was no one’s decision but mine,” Etheridge said. ”My parents were on board with me doing it. Everyone was on board with me doing it. I just had to make that final decision if I wanted to do it and decide if it was good for me. I had a really good support system and people I talked it out with, and it led to me saying, why not.”
This is a historic opportunity for these girls to push gender stereotypes and boundaries aside and do what they’re passionate about. Schatzel has always played many sports for Mason but this one challenge she just couldn’t pass up.
“The thing that made me want to wrestle the most was the fact that it pushed me out of my comfort zone a little bit and forced me to try something new, especially for girls,” Schatzel said. “I knew that wrestling was something directed more toward males and was kind of frowned upon for a girl to do but I wanted to be the one to break those boundaries and show everyone that you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Despite this being the first year that MHS is offering a girls team, the team already has an edge on its competition, as head coach Nicholas Maffey has been able to pull together a team that covers every weight class that wrestling offers.
“With a roster that includes 26 females we are at a highly competitive advantage,” Maffey said. “While every girl on the roster is new to wrestling, their work ethic has been refreshing.”
Maffey has been pleased with the increase in numbers of girls wrestling which he said began back in August with preseason workouts when Brynn Clark, Camy Etheridge and Emma Schatzel started showing up in the wrestling room.
“Each brought a passion to learn and get better,” Maffey said. “They have continued to work hard in the room, recruit other girls to join while also becoming strong leaders as new girls continue to join.”
Although the team has excellent numbers, a solid foundation of new wrestlers and a coaching staff that supports them, there was always the question of if the girls would have to worry about social pressures from peers due to their decision to take up a generally male-dominated sport.
“I grew up with all guys,” Etheridge said. “My older brother and his friends would come over all the time, and I’d go outside and play with them, that’s just the kind of childhood I had. I feel like that’s very much shaped how nonchalant I am about certain things, including possibly worrying about being made fun of because of female wrestling. It doesn’t affect me. That’s just the way I am, I’m a very unbothered person when it comes to other people stereotyping me. Personally I think that if you’re comfortable and happy with what you’re doing and where you’re at in life, than it doesn’t really matter what other people think about you.”
The girls have demonstrated leadership and independence by sticking with their decision to take up wrestling this season. They have also inspired other girls to step out of their comfort zone and not worry about what their friends or classmates will think of them.
“We’re all so very driven to be there. I know that I am working my butt off and so are the girls around me,” Schatzel said. “I have already seen improvement in my mental health and for sure my physical health. There are some individuals out there who make fun of me and make fun of the team but I feel like those people are the ones that push me to do that much better.”
Photos by Meghan Dincler