Girls rule on the wrestling mat at SHS

Published 9:20 am Friday, January 28, 2011

Indian Kara Roberts on the mat. -- Andrew Faison | Tidewater News


COURTLAND—Wrestling, by some, is considered the ultimate contact sport, and to others, it can be a startling sight.

For the most part, girls who want to wrestle, must practice with and compete against boys. This year, Southampton High School has two such girls — senior Johnette Robertson and freshman Kara Roberts.

Robertson, who wrestles the 130-pound weight class, wanted to try to wrestle while cheerleading this past football season.

“I just want to get better, stronger and learn more techniques,” she said. “I want to take away techniques I can use the rest of my life.”

Southampton High School senior Johnette Robertson, right, works on a drill during wrestling practice. She is among two wrestling on the boys’ team this season. -- Andrew Faison | Tidewater News

Robertson wants to become an FBI agent after graduating from college. She would also like to take martial arts or self-defense classes in college.

Roberts, who wrestles in the 103-weight class, decided last year she wanted to do something different and something that not a lot of girls do. She was influenced by the fact that her father wrestled when he was in high school.

“In the future I would like to get better at wrestling,” Roberts said. “Possibly get a scholarship to go to college. I also look forward to the activity, something that will help keep me active.”

Roberts’ first match was the most memorable.

“I was out there already to rock and roll,” she said. “The guy started off easy, and then all of a sudden, took off and attacked me, and I just won’t forget it.”

Southampton High School Wrestling Coach Vernon Bryant said he enjoys having two female wrestlers on his squad; he likes to be more versatile as a coach.

“I want to be more community friendly,” said Bryant. “I would like everyone to know they are free to come out and wrestle; you don’t have to be a guy to do this. You can be a female and compete a high school level just like guys also.”

With women’s wrestling offered as a collegiate sport, girls’ wrestling is poised to take off now that it has been sanctioned as an Olympic sport. With so few girls competing, there can’t be separate girls’ teams at each high school.

The Virginia High School League dictates that females must be dressed in a different locker room than males, and that no males may be present during a female weigh-in and vice-versa.

Nationwide, a little over 6,000 high school girls wrestled last year, according to the National Federation of State High School. In Virginia, 112 females competed for 49 schools compared to 7,459 males from 260 schools.

Girls’ wrestling is not easy. The conditioning is grueling and intense, more so than for other sports, due to the physical nature of the sport and competing with male counterparts.

“To me it is not as hard as some people think it probably is,” said Roberts. “You don’t have to be strong; you just have to have endurance and have good technique.”

Bryant just wants people to be motivated and dedicated when they come out and ready to work, and with that mentality, he said you won’t be treated any differently whether you are male or female.