The wrestling program this year has seen some changes members hope will benefit the team as the season goes on. The team now has female members and a new JV coach.
“I’m really excited, especially for the fact that the sport can begin expanding, not only around our school, but throughout the country– more so truly demonstrating that anyone regardless of their gender can be a wrestler if they’re willing to put in the work,” senior Jason Guadarrama said.
According to the Athletic Department Office, the mid-2000s was the last time girls wrestled on the MHS team.
This year, there are five girls on the team, and many of them have never wrestled before.
“I needed something to do to stay in shape, so a friend made it aware that he wanted more girls to join wrestling, and I thought, ‘Why not?’” said first year member Lauren Young, senior.
Since the start of the season, the girls on the team have expressed excitement about learning the fundamentals of the sport and to apply what they learn at the meets.
“Having girls on the team adds another layer of diversity to the wrestling community,” Young said. “It also gives the girls a chance to show their strength and power. The expectations are still the same for the girls as the guys– same warm-ups, same drills, same moves, rules, etc.”
The girls have the opportunity to wrestle both males and females when they go against someone at practice or during a meet. Who they wrestle depends on the weight class they are currently in.
“This sport is growing more and more every day, and the women’s side of the sport is really starting to excel at the highest levels of the world right now,” JV Coach Travis LaSchiava said. “Having the girls on our team is great for us because it allows us to expand our sport to more than just the guys and guys’ tournaments.”
On top of more girls joining the team, the wrestling program has obtained a new JV coach to help teach and monitor the athletes in their training.
Coach Travis LaSchiava replaced a former JV coach who no longer works at the school. Additionally working at MHS as an instructional aid in the Science Department, LaSchiava said he is excited to get to know the athletes and to help them physically and mentally.
“Having new coaches can be a tough change to adjust to at first, but our coaches are very supportive, especially when you begin to build that friendship, trust and relationship,” Guadarrama said. “Also having certain coaches for certain levels and sizes has helped individualize and pay more attention to detail in the learning process of practice.”
LaSchiava said he plans to stick with coaching styles that he has used from other wrestlers he has coached. As it isn’t always the same for each wrestler, he plans to focus on repetition for the drills and skills the wrestlers need for their training.
“Each kid is so different from the next one that they all handle either criticism or encouragement differently,” LaSchiava said. “I try my absolute best to make everything as fair as possible for each kid, but sometimes that’s not always the case. Practice and drilling are such huge parts of our learning system for wrestling that sometimes the kids do the same move over a hundred times a practice.”
With an interest in coaching at the high school level, LaSchiava talked to Head Coach Craig Stocker about helping the coaching staff of the wrestling program. He said he hopes to continue to grow in his knowledge of discipline and respect. He added the sport is very tough, so it takes more than just one’s body to make it through the season.
“Wrestling has been so good for me,” Young said. “It is structured, intense and vigorous. It is also fun and beneficial to me in several ways. It keeps me motivated to get stronger, keep my grades up and just put myself out of my comfort zone.”
Not only do new members of the team see the program’s changes as beneficial, but so do the returners.
“The program since my freshman year has experienced many changes, but overall, a lot of people have begun to learn the value of being together and supporting each other throughout the demanding season,” Guadarrama said.
Therefore, the wrestlers and the new JV coach showed an eagerness for how the season will play out with the changes.
LaSchiava said, “This sport has such an important mental side to it, that if the kids can make it through a whole season with all the ups and downs that it brings, then they will be better off when real life presents difficult times. Yes, the wins are important, but that’s not all that matters; I’m hoping that as the season moves on, the kids will want to push themselves harder and want to learn more.”