March, 2013 Archives

No Mat Maids Here

March 1st, 2013 Permalink

A couple of weeks ago while the International Olympic Committee decided to drop the sport, I was shooting the Washington State Wrestling Tournament at the Tacoma Dome.  After orienting myself in a very chaotic environment of screaming, multiple matches and refs whistles, I walked by one of the center mats and everything suddenly seemed to [...]

A couple of weeks ago while the International Olympic Committee decided to drop the sport, I was shooting the Washington State Wrestling Tournament at the Tacoma Dome.  After orienting myself in a very chaotic environment of screaming, multiple matches and refs whistles, I walked by one of the center mats and everything suddenly seemed to be in slow motion.  I saw this muscular, very tough wrestler crying and joyfully hugging a coach.  Then, I saw huge tendrils of curly red hair spill out from the wrestler’s cap as she removed it.  I looked around and there were hundreds of girls preparing to wrestle in the state meet.

I stood with my mouth open and looked around.  I was sent to shoot one girl (which I thought was unusual), but I had no idea so many in this state participate in the sport. When I ran cross country in high school I remember my mother telling me how girls who played any sport in the 1950′s were seen as “strange”  or “outcasts”  and I couldn’t believe it.  There with my mouth hanging open,  I felt like I was the one from the 1950′s.  Why would I be surprised by this?  I was sent to many wrestling meets in Illinois and I don’t remember seeing one girl.  It turns out that Washington is only one of 5 states that has its own  tournament for girls.  And it’s no fringe sport, it’s growing every year.

Wrestling has always been one of my least favorite sports to shoot.   But the next day, I drove back to the Tacoma Dome to focus on the girls.  All of a sudden wrestling was a whole new thing to me.  These girls were beyond passionate about their sport and even though they fought like warriors, they weren’t afraid to cry like babies – win or lose.  They brought a certain elegance and emotion to wrestling that I’ve never seen.   I think this article by Bob Cook of Forbes may be right.   Girls may just be the ones to save the day for wrestling.  But I’m not surprised by that now.