By Tim Gardner
The board of directors of the state’s preparatory sports governing body – the North Carolina High School Athletics Association (NCHSAA) – has announced that women’s wrestling will officially become a sanctioned high school sport in North Carolina, beginning in the 2023-2024 season. .
North Carolina had a record 594 women participating in high school wrestling for the final 2021–22 season, making it the 19th-largest state in America by total female participation.
Matthew Dunn, who has coached Avery County High to various Class 1-A state championships, praised the NCHSAA’s decision.
“The sanctioning of women’s wrestling is exciting and incredible news, although the decision is overdue as we follow many other states that have had women’s wrestling for many years now,” he said. “In past Olympics, our women’s wrestling teams have shown incredible dominance with multiple gold medalists and placers. At this point, women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in terms of participation and offers as much or more scholarships (to compete collegially) than its male counterpart.
“In addition to the opportunities this creates, it also allows girls to compete in a sport for women only. It removes some of the awkwardness inherent in co-eds participating in such a contact sport.
Dunn noted that Avery currently has multiple female wrestlers in his programs, particularly in his college program.
Since 2017, the NCHSAA has been working with the NC Wrestling team to offer an NCHSAA Invitational Women’s Championship. The event started with 33 women in 2017 and grew to nearly 250 participants in 2022. Nine women also qualified for the Men’s State Championships in 2021, and Heaven Fitch became the first woman to win an NCHSAA title. in 2020.
The NCHSAA and Team NC will continue to partner to offer the women’s invitational event for one final season in 2022-23 before it becomes a fully sanctioned championship sport.
Dunn acknowledged and thanked a coach from Avery’s biggest rival school and member of the Western Highlands Conference for being instrumental in establishing women’s wrestling as an individual sport in the NCHSAA.
“Coach Ed Duncan of Mitchell County High was a driving force behind the addition of women’s wrestling. He has played a huge role in the growth and sanctioning of the sport.
Dunn said wrestling provides a tremendous education for all involved, men and women.
“Wrestling is an incredible sport,” he proclaimed. “It teaches independence, discipline, provides unparalleled conditioning and is in itself a very effective form of self-defense. If I had a daughter, I would want her to participate in wrestling. I think, fortunately, we now live in a time when one can be both ‘tuff and feminine’.
North Carolina becomes the 35th U.S. state to sanction women’s wrestling, which is one of the fastest growing scholastic sports in the nation.
The NCHSAA announcement comes just two months before the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
Title IX is a federal civil rights statute in the United States of America that was enacted under (Title IX) the 1972 Education Amendments. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any school or other educational program that receives federal government funding.
The introduction of Title IX was followed by a dramatic increase in the number of women participating in organized sports within American academic institutions, followed by growing interest in initiating and developing programs that would pursue feminist principles in relation to issues related to girls’ and women’s issues. equality and equity in sport.
(Certain information in this article is used courtesy of the North Carolina High School Athletics Association (NCHSAA).