I was brought into the world of wrestling by my stepdaughter (I will use the term daughter from this point forward as I do not see her as anything less than that) when she was in the fifth grade. She had been watching an episode of one of her favorite TV shows at the time and on that particular episode, a girl decides she wants to join the wrestling team. For whatever reason, that same idea grabbed hold of my daughter’s imagination. As I write this, it’s been nearly five years since that occurred. In that time I have watched my daughter develop not only as an athlete but also as a strong, confident and amazing young woman. I know that these qualities come from inside her and that her family upbringing plays no small part but I know wrestling has also played a huge role in cultivating a lot of the positive attitudes and qualities I have witnessed emerge in her.
Our family’s adventures through the world of youth wrestling (ages 5 to 14) were less than stellar. We were clueless and frustrated most of the time. We were fortunate enough to be part of a team where the coach appreciated my girl’s work ethic and enthusiasm for the sport. He helped us navigate through a lot of the unfamiliar territory we found ourselves in. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. If I could do it all over again, I would have taken a much more active part in educating and informing myself about this amazing sport earlier on. I realize now that I relied too much on those with more experience than me and that may have hindered my daughter’s development a little. This brings me to the first goal for this site: to provide new wrestling parents with tools and information that will give them the confidence to support their girls in ways they had not previously thought they could.
When my girl entered high school, I was expecting her to warm the bench the majority of her high school career. She had solid fundamentals but her last year of youth wrestling had shown me what she had to look forward to: boys whose strength seemed exponentially greater than hers. When she told me that girls participated in their own tournaments I was more than just a little excited. Then, after her first all-girl tournament, I was struck with the realization that there are schools that are powerhouses in the world of female wrestling; that there are also schools that have a single athlete but that they support 100%; that there are schools that, whether it’s due to financial limitations or because of the school’s culture, have a difficult time getting their girls to most if any tournaments. It was difficult for me to accept, especially when I saw so much heart out there on the mats, for those girls to be handicapped; whatever the reasons might be. I knew I couldn’t possibly make a difference for every girl out there but I could try to do it for the girls of the league my daughter’s school belonged to. I began to believe and still do, that there is amazing undiscovered talent out there and that it needs to be embraced and encouraged so that it can reach its true potential; for the benefit of the sport and the world of wrestling.
I started the San Gabriel Valley League Girls’ Wrestling Connection Facebook page dedicated to spreading information and news about and pertinent to the San Gabriel Valley League. I never really expected to have a lot of followers; maybe 20, all of them wrestlers wanting to find out when the next free clinic was going to be offered or when the next post-season wrestling tournament was going to be held. Well, I was right about the small following (as am I writing this it’s at 84) but I was wrong about who would do the following. I have parents, coaches, some very good organizations and wrestling supporters in general. This made me start thinking that I might just need to expand the scope of the information I was delivering not only beyond the SGVL but beyond the confines of Facebook as well. And so, this site was born. My second goal is to spread even more information while curating it for Southern California and serving it up on a platform that is easier to navigate. I must warn you, I’m only one person and I will sometimes make mistakes, other times I will miss some important information. Any mistakes and/or oversights are purely unintentional and corrections will always be welcome.
So, in closing this poorly constructed and rambling introduction, I want to share what I have learned about this sport in the short time I have been involved. This sport teaches its participants to dig deep when there seems to be nothing left in their tank to give. It expects the athlete to stand on their own two feet and face their opponents with no help beyond their own skills and determination. It will not be forgiving of mistakes but it will always reward tenacity when it’s coupled with an indomitable spirit. And these things do not stay on the mat but follow the athlete off it because, to quote the legendary Dan Gable, “Once you have wrestled everything else in life is easy.”