Nicole Woody was recently featured as a stand out high school athlete as read in Sports Illustrated: She is one of the top female wrestlers in the U.S. and still encounters people who think the mat is no place for a woman.
Reportedly, some schools forfeit rather than send a boy to face her, and one fellow wrestler transferred rather than be on her team. But Woody, a graduating junior and team captain, also hears plenty of encouragement. Several girls from states across the country have reached out to her online telling of how they have been inspired to start wrestling.
It's a choice more girls are making. At U.S. high schools the number of female wrestlers has tripled in the last decade, from 1,629 to 4,975. (There are 50 times as many boy wrestlers.) Woody's coach, Bill Royer, says, "It's not a girl-boy thing. She's a wrestler. She lives and dies and bleeds this sport."
Woody began wrestling at age nine at the suggestion of her mother, Mary, who liked the discipline it taught her son. In August, Woody was the only American of either sex to win a title at the Junior World Championships. Her ultimate goal is the Olympics, which added women's wrestling in 2004. Good luck to her!
(Photo provided by AFP, taken by Yuri Kadobnov)