By: AJ Eyre and Ashley Ford
Freshman Natalie Davis finished fourth at the MPSSAA state tournament at The Show Place Arena.
We asked Davis about her experience as a female wrestler in a male dominated sport:
Why did you start wrestling?
I’ve wanted to since 7th grade when my brother started it. I fought with my parents until about two weeks before the season for them to let me do it because they said it wasn’t a “feminine” sport.
Overall, how would you assess your season?
It was my first year wrestling and I wrestled varsity so my regular season definitely did not go as well as I wanted. But I take that as a huge learning experience because it helped me improve a lot. The post season did go a lot better. I placed second at regionals and went to states where I placed fourth.
Describe your best match of the year.
I would say my best match was in the consolation semifinals at states. It was against a girl who had beaten me badly in the first round. It was a really tough match and up until the third period I genuinely thought that I was going to lose. Then at the beginning of the third I was up by one and she was on bottom. She almost got out a couple of times but I was able to hold her on her back to get back points and make the score 5-2 with like 15 seconds left. For the rest of the match I just kept her on bottom and ended up winning 5-2.
States went very well for me, a lot better than I expected. I lost my first match which was definitely a setback. But I didn’t let it discourage me and wrestled back for 4th. I won my first consolation match by pin against a senior from Elkridge. Then I won my second match by pin as well. For the third round of consolation I went against the girl that beat me in the first round. For most of the match it was close until I almost pinned her in the third period. I didn’t get the pin but I still beat her 5-2. My final match was against the returning state champ and she beat me for third.
The expectation from those who don’t know the sport, is that there must be limitations wrestling with, and against, boys. Is that the case? Do you feel there’s added pressure wrestling as a female?
There are definitely some limitations that come with strength and skill because of where I am skill wise being a first year wrestler. Also, a lot of the guys are stronger than me which made it hard. Being a girl there is definitely some sort of pressure from others but mostly from myself to prove that I can do the same thing as the boys.
Is it different wrestling as a girl? What do you have to do differently from the guys?
A little bit but for most of the season I trained with the guys and did all of the same stuff. The difference in strength, though, made it a little different but other than that the training was the same. Sometimes because a lot of the guys are stronger than me but I think that practicing with them definitely made me a lot better and tougher which helped me a lot.
Are there any role models you have looked up to for support, wrestling or otherwise?
Not really any specific role models. I mean there’s a couple of college wrestlers that I look up to because of the way that they wrestle but other than that no.
Some might call you a symbol for female empowerment. Would you agree?
I wouldn’t really agree. I’m just a girl who does a sport that happens to be male dominated. For me it’s normal and does not really make me a symbol of anything.
Would you like to see more females competing in the sport?
Definitely. It is becoming increasingly popular for girls to wrestle. The sport is definitely changing and the more girls that participate the more opportunities there are for us.
A word from Glenelg's Head Coach Matthew Bichner about Davis:
Overall, I was very impressed and pleased with her first year on the team. She was the only athlete who could make the 106 weight class, so, although not ideal, she was forced into the Varsity line up right away. This is a tough task for any new wrestler as most Varsity wrestlers have had some experience. She battled every match and although lost a majority of them she never quit. I think this really prepared her for the end of the season where she was able to compete in the female postseason and end up placing 4th in the state. If she continues to stick with it and learn, she has a bright future in this sport and hopefully will open the door for other female Glenelg athletes to come out for the team next season.