By: Abigail Post, Contributing Writer ‘26
What are the first images that come to your mind when you hear the word ‘wrestling’? Is it aggravated, sweaty boys fighting each other? Actors in costumes breaking chairs over one another’s heads? Most likely, you probably did not imagine anyone who wasn’t male.
Samantha Goworek is the first girl on Indian Hill’s wrestling team. Her coach, Owen Ross mentions that joining the wrestling team “says a lot about Sam, of who she is and how determined she is.” Sam is among a growing number of women and non-binary athletes who are breaking barriers and entering male-dominated sports.
For years men have been in the vast majority throughout wrestling with little to no non-male athletes in the leagues. It is seen as a harsh, tough, and rough sport; which it is. These characteristics give people the idea that it is only for men, which is completely wrong. Ideas like this are deeply rooted in misogyny and the idea that men are expected to be strong and masculine while women are expected to be dainty and feminine. However, these ideals are changing.
Samantha Goworek made the decision last year to join the Indian Hills wrestling team. It was both surprising and impressive to a large number of people when Sam decided to join the team. It takes an exceptionally strong and independent person to enter a male-dominated sport and not back out. Sam made the decision following her past in boxing, “I heard there was wrestling and thought it couldn’t be that hard and different from boxing.” She soon found that it was extremely different, but nevertheless, she fell in love with the sport and the community.
It may have been difficult at first, but quickly Sam adjusted. Sam soon found her place on the team and describes her relationship with her teammates as a sibling bond, “the boys saw me as a little sister.” Some of her goals this year are “to win 5 or 10 matches, qualify for states, and place in regionals.” These goals may sound overwhelming, but Sam is determined to be the best athlete she can possibly be. According to Coach Ross, this is true Sam fashion, “she’s a very highly motivated person.”
Samantha is among thousands of girls around the country who are wrestling. The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA), the main resource for wrestling coaches, parents, and wrestlers, reported, “Since 1994, the number of women who wrestle in high school has grown from 804 to over 31,654.” One cause for this increase would be the shift in modern parenting style. Children are being taught to stand up for themselves, to be confident, and to be the truest form of themselves. This is notable because it teaches them to stand out and do what makes them happy no matter the barriers.
Other male dominated sports that are increasing in female participation include football, ice hockey, and rugby. More non-male athletes will feel more comfortable joining as these sports continue to expand and become less male-dominated. Samantha hopes to encourage more women and non-binary athletes to join the wrestling team in the future. One of Sam’s long-term goals for her wrestling career is “to start a girl’s team.” Sam also mentioned the impact she hopes she will have on the school, “I don’t just want to do well, I want to create a legacy.”
Sam is just one example of many women and non-binary individuals who are making waves and breaking barriers in male-dominated sports. As years go by, more and more non-male athletes will join male-dominated sports. Maybe the next wrestler is reading this article right now. These players will need support from everyone in the FLOW district as they change the game in our communities’ sports.