Inaugural Girls Wrestling Team Grows this Year

Coaches and Team members speak to the power of wrestling
Inaugural Girls Wrestling Team Grows this Year

Girls wrestling has been rapidly growing from 31,654 participants in 2021-22 to 49,127 last year. It was the highest increase since 1993, having a 55.2% growth in participants. This has led the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) to deem girls wrestling in the state as an “emerging sport” with the possibility of becoming a sanctioned sport within the next two years.

Seymour High School for the first time ever, now has enough girls to be considered a full girls team. Credit for this goes to the eight girls participating this season. The new participants this year are all freshman: Kayla Martinez, Mareli Hernandez, Isabella Doyle, Kelsie Napier, Greydis Chub, Ana Rodriguez, and Megan Stout.  AnnMarie Shuler is the only returning girl wrestler this year as a sophomore. To lead this brand new girls team, SHS has brought in John Shuffit, who previously coached for Seymour Middle School. In addition to Coach Shuffit, assistant coach Nate Bannister has also been recruited to help train the girls team, and assist with coaching at their meets.  With these new additions, the girls wrestling team is ready for their season. 

Kayla Martinez has been wrestling for three years. She started wrestling because of her 7th grade world geography teacher, Mr. Wilson. His encouragement helped her decide to do it. She told him how she though about joining and he convinced her to try it. Wilson was not only her teach but he is also the head coach of the Seymour Middle School wrestling team. When asked who her favorite wrestler was Martinez said that “My favorite wrestler is AnnMarie Shuler. She is a hard worker and I look up to her every day.” Martinez’s least favorite part of wrestling is running, however, though she doesn’t like it she knows it worth it in the end. Nevertheless, her favorite part of westling is Coach Shuffit and the team. She plans on wrestling all through high school, but doesn’t plan on wrestling in college.

If a girl was interested in Wrestling, Martinez said that she would tell them that “it’s hard in the beginning but it gets fun.” 

Mareli Hernandez, has also been wrestling for three years. She wanted to get out of her comfort zone and try something new. With the help of motivation from some girls on the team now, Hernandez was inspired to join back in 7th grade and has been wrestling ever since then. She claims that her least favorite part of wrestling is the work you have to put in order to progress ad get the results you want. However, what she really dislike the most is running, but she knows that the work she puts in will benefit her later in a match. In comparison Hernandez’s favorite part of wrestling would “be the feeling of knowing you’re progressing and being more successful in the sport. The friendships that are made during as well.” 

Unlike Kayla and Mareli, Isabella Doyle is new to the sport of wrestling. Although being new to the sport, it is something that she has always been interested in. Doyle hopes that the hard work she is putting in on the mat throughout high school will help her catch the eye of college recruiters, ultimately paving her way to a collegiate wrestling career. She loves the ¨live wrestling” aspect of the sport. She really prides herself on being a fast paced wrestler. Isabella recently took home a second place finish at Jeffersonville Holiday Classic with her impressive skills that she has learned this year.

Kelsie Napier, like Shuler is a veteran wrestler. She has been wrestling since elementary school. Napier took home second place at Middle School State last year. It was a huge accomplishment for her. Napier said jokingly that she really loves the sport and being able to walk away from the mat with a pin for a win, but that she really dislikes sometimes having to cut weight to be able to wrestle in a certain bracket.

Gredis Chub is another product of Coach Andy Wilsons encouragement. Chub began wrestling in middle school as well, helping to make the team one of the largest to ever go through SMS. Gredis is a strong wrestler and always has a smile on her face, win or lose. Gredis always puts 100% in during practices and it shows on the mat during her meets. Gradis also wrestled at the Jeffersonville Holiday Classic, her skills brought home a 3rd place finish overall.

Ana Rodiriguez has been been a dominating force on the wrestling mat for four years now. She owes all her successes out there to her father, who she declares is her biggest supporter and inspiration. Rodriguez was adamant when asked what she would tell other girls that were considering trying wrestling. “Try it, if you believe you may enjoy it and don’t try it, you will for sure regret it later in life!” Ana’s favorite athletes are a tie between Felicity Taylor and Lilly Tuft. When asked what was her favorite food to eat after weigh-ins, her response was adamantly: Danielle’s (AnnMarie’s mom) peanut butter sandwiches! 

Megan Stout is another first year wrestler on the team, she decided to join to help become stronger. Stout is one of the quietest on the team, but do not let that fool you, she is tough out there on the mat. Megan does not plan on wrestling through college, but she is sure she will continue wrestling throughout high school. Stout admits she doesn’t like the running and cardio part of practices, but that she knows that is what it takes to become stronger on and off the mat.

The last member of the team is AnnMarie Shuler.  “I have been wrestling since I was in 5th grade. Last year as freshman I qualified for IHSGW State. Although I did not place, it was an amazing experience being acknowledged as one of the top female wrestlers in the state of Indiana. I decided to try the sport of wrestling when I was the only female football player in the SAYFL. During that time, my brother said to me, ‘Ree, it’s pretty cool that you play football, but it would be awesome if you tried wrestling too!’ I was nervous at first, but after a few practices I was hooked. There is no doubt in my mind that I want to continue wrestling in college. My hope is to be accepted into the United States Coast Guard Academy where I can continue my wresting career while working on a degree in engineering.”

Although each of the girls on the team are very different there is one thing that they all have in common; each girl is very thankful for Coaches Shuffitt and Bannister. When asked what was it that they liked most about them the girls all responded with how he believes in them. Each girl, including myself say without a doubt that the support we receive from Shuffitt and Bannister is something that you don’t get from all coaches. They truly care, and want the girls to become great athletes and good human beings, not because they have to, but because they want to. Neither Shuffitt, or Bannister work for Seymour Community Schools, but both are familiar with SHS and the SHS wrestling program. They both are former wrestlers turned coaches, who better than that to lead the first ever SHS girls wrestling team.

When Coach Shuffit was asked what he thinks the biggest difference between coaching boys and coaching girls is, he responded that, “boys are more confident before matches, while girls are more confident during them.” Coach Bannister also explained that if he could tell a potential girl wrestler one thing that it would be, “to not be afraid of this sport, it’s so good for girls. It takes so much to say that you are a girl wrestler, because not everyone can do it. Be the one that can.”

Both coaches give credit to their parents as their biggest supporters and motivators. They both said with great conviction that they decided to coach to give back to the community what was given to them.  

Halfway through the season, we can honestly say, as a team, that these two coaches have done just that. They have believed in us when we didn’t believe in ourselves. They have taught the team discipline and hardwork always pay off, and most importantly they have shown us what it is like to be a part of a team that is more like a family. How could anyone not want to be a part of something like that? 

There are athletes, and there are wrestlers. Only those that have been a part of this sport will understand. It is not just a sport it is a way of life. Just like the great former folkstyle / freestyle wrestler and coach Dan Gable once said “ Once you wrestle, everything else in life is easy!”

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