Olympian stops at Wyoming Sem for girls-only wrestling clinic

By John Erzar - [email protected] | October 11th, 2017 10:34 pm

Sean McKeag

Adeline Gray visits with Wyoming Seminary wrestlers

To see video related to this story, go to timesleader.com

KINGSTON — Natalie Tucker was succinct about her reason for being at the Wyoming Seminary Upper School on Wednesday night.

“I like beating up boys,” said the 9-year-old from Vernon, New Jersey.

Best of all, she does so without being sent to the principal’s office.

Tucker and several teammates from the Venom Girls Wrestling Club were among the 25 participants, along with members of the new Seminary girls wrestling team, attending Girls Only Wrestling Night. The event featured three-time world champion and 2016 Olympian Adeline Gray.

Rebecca Brennan took up wrestling for another reason.

“All other sports are too easy,” said the 10-year-old from New Paltz, New York.

Steve Simpson’s 11-year-old daughter, Rhayna, an elementary student in the Delaware Valley School District, was less talkative but also got hooked on wrestling.

“I took my older two to a wrestling match. One of my friends was coaching it,” Simpson recalled. “My older two didn’t want anything to do with it. And her, at 6 years old, was tugging on my shirt saying ‘Dad, I can do this.’ And the next year, we signed up.”

About a dozen girls participated this past season in junior high and high school wrestling in District 2, which encompasses the Wyoming Valley Conference and Lackawanna Conference. Few ever got to wrestle, often only getting wins via forfeit.

Gray’s high school experience at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, Colorado, was quite different. She wrestled on the boys team, and in 130 matches she received only 10 forfeit victories.

“The ratio is definitely about the culture,” said Gray, who started wrestling at age 6. “I had one school who consistently forfeited to me. And it was really because the leadership in that room was about not wrestling against women. So when I got to see it from the other side where so many teams treated me as an athlete, it was just someone stepping up and saying ‘Hey, they worked hard at this sport, they have experience, we’re not going to make this about losing or beating a girl. You’re an athlete when you step out on that mat.’

”And they gave me that respect to step on the mat and wrestle me.”

Girls wrestling has grown dramatically over past five years, according to the National Federation of High School Associations. There are 2,091 high school girls programs this year, up from 1,441 in 2012. Nearly 6,000 more girls are wrestling than in 2012, with the NFHSA listing the number of participants at 14,587.

Still only six state high school associations — California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington — have girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport and hold state championships. Female wrestlers have to be on boys teams in other states.

“The biggest thing is about coaches being opened to the idea of coaching women and about having them on the team,” Gray said. “We’re in this limbo period where we don’t have the numbers to have our own programs yet, but we still have opportunities that are tangible for us.”

Those opportunities opened at Seminary, where Erin Vandiver runs the fledgling girls wrestling program. A coach for the women’s world and Olympic teams, Vandiver graduated from Grove City High School where she was the first female to place at districts and win a regional match in an event sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“We have 14 girls on the roster and it’s taking off quickly,” Vandiver said. “They are blending in well with Wyoming Sem culture and community. They are working out with the boys even, we have our structured practices and have our full schedule lined up.”

Wednesday’s clinic started with the Seminary girls demonstrating moves to the youngsters. Then after some tumbling, which seemed more popular with the younger wrestlers, the girls paired off for some first-hand instruction from Gray. The Olympian emphasized proper technique and form in a step-by-step manner.

Wrestling champion Adeline Gray performs a move on Wyoming Seminary wrestler Sophie Smith, 15, during the wrestling clinic in Wyoming Seminary's Great Hall in Kingston on Wednesday, October 11. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_TTL101217WrestlingClinic1.jpgWrestling champion Adeline Gray performs a move on Wyoming Seminary wrestler Sophie Smith, 15, during the wrestling clinic in Wyoming Seminary's Great Hall in Kingston on Wednesday, October 11. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Rhayna Simpson, 11, of Matamoras, Pa., practices a wrestling move on Alyssa Reed, 11, of Port Jervis, N.Y., during a wrestling clinic at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston on Wednesday, October 11. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_TTL101217WrestlingClinic2.jpgRhayna Simpson, 11, of Matamoras, Pa., practices a wrestling move on Alyssa Reed, 11, of Port Jervis, N.Y., during a wrestling clinic at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston on Wednesday, October 11. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Wyoming Seminary girls wrestling coach Erin Vandiver talks to students during the wrestling clinic at Wyoming Seminary. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_TTL101217WrestlingClinic3.jpgWyoming Seminary girls wrestling coach Erin Vandiver talks to students during the wrestling clinic at Wyoming Seminary. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Rhayna Simpson, 11, of Matamoras, Pa., Alyssa Reed, 11, of Port Jervis, N.Y., and Madison Czaja, 10, of Clarks Summit, get into the fighting stance during the wrestling clinic at Wyoming Seminary's Great Hall in Kingston on Wednesday. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_TTL101217WrestlingClinic4.jpgRhayna Simpson, 11, of Matamoras, Pa., Alyssa Reed, 11, of Port Jervis, N.Y., and Madison Czaja, 10, of Clarks Summit, get into the fighting stance during the wrestling clinic at Wyoming Seminary's Great Hall in Kingston on Wednesday. 10/11/17. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By John Erzar

[email protected]

To see video related to this story, go to timesleader.com

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar

VideoID: bNkcUS1oIg8
VideoType: YOUTUBE
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNkcUS1oIg8
Video Embed String: <iframe width=”560” height=”315” src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/bNkcUS1oIg8” frameborder=”0” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Video Caption: Adeline Gray visits with Wyoming Seminary wrestlers

Video Credit: Sean McKeag

Video Position:

(use the “for files…” link above to associate attached files with this source)


NATIONAL VIDEO
POLL