What's it like to be a Girl on the Wrestling Team?
An Interview with Mariah Saunders
By Ashley Clifford '18
I sat down with junior Mariah Saunders to find out about her experience this past wrestling season. Mariah is believed to be the only girl who has wrestled at the varsity level in Severn School’s history.
Question: Why did you decide to wrestle this year?
Mariah: Since Severn doesn’t have an indoor track team, I wanted to do something to stay in shape for the upcoming track season.
When exactly did you make the decision to join the wrestling team?
For years I’d actually joked about it. During freshman and sophomore year I thought, “Haha, I could definitely wrestle and stay in shape for track season.” And then junior year came around and I thought, “So, my time [for track] didn’t go anywhere and I kind of need to improve.” So I ended up talking to my mom and Mr. Lagarde and with the coaches and some of the guys on the team.
What did they say?
Mr. Brant was pretty much in support of it because he’d had girls that wrestled on his team back in Tennessee. Mr. Lagarde was the one that brought it up in the first place. Not in the very beginning, but one time we were both sitting on the stationary bikes [in the workout room] and he asked me, “Oh, are you doing a winter sport?” I was like, “No, I’m not really cut out for basketball (just look at my height). And swimming has morning practices and I’m kind of lazy.” And he said, “Oh, then you should definitely join the wrestling team!” And I was like (sarcastically), “Oh, yeah. Sure, Mr. Lagarde, I’ll definitely do that.”
When did you have this conversation with him?
My sophomore year, so I was still in the joking-around phase of joining the team at that point.
How did your mom respond to you wanting the join the wrestling team?
I don’t think my mom was completely on board. She was really worried about me getting injured and being out for the whole track season. And also, I think it’s just uncomfortable for a parent to see their daughter wrestling with some random guy.
Do you feel like you missed out on anything since you started wrestling your junior year and not your freshmen year?
I definitely feel like I missed some of the moves and I don’t really have all of the same experience. But there are new wrestlers like Rehman and Darian that are just starting off too, so they were in kind of similar positions.
Do you think the techniques are different for girls and boys who wrestle?
I think it’s pretty much the same because we’re separated into weight classes.
So how have you been doing in your matches?
So, I’m not that good [laughs]. But I feel like I’m picking stuff up– slowly but surely.
How have you and the boys on the team interacted?
At first it was kind of awkward, not going to lie about that. But I think they’ve slowly started to accept me.
How many matches/meets have you gone to?
I’ve gone to almost all of them besides one or two because I had an injury halfway through the season, so I wasn’t able to compete in those two.
When did your injury occur?
I hurt my I.T. band during track season last year and that’s why I decided to wrestle (because I didn’t get anywhere with my times). Then the knee [injury] was late December when we went to an Old Mill practice and some kid that was like 106 pounds tried to pick me up, but it didn’t really work out well and I fell on my knee and was like, “Oh, no. I have to heal.”
How long were you out?
A few weeks, but I’m back now.
Were/are you intimidated because you are the only girl? Why or why not?
Before I joined the team, I was definitely feeling intimidated. I thought it was gonna be awful, but I don’t know, they were all pretty accepting.
Why do you think this is?
You know, we’re a small team, so it’s not like they could choose to ignore me.
Were you inspired by Molly Seaton, the freshman girl who played football?
I actually did have a conversation with Molly right before I decided to join the wrestling team. I just wanted to know about the social piece. I wasn’t really worried about if I was going to be able to keep up with the guys or anything like that, but just if everyone was accepting. She just said, “Yeah, it was fine!” I think that now that I’m on the team and if a girl was like, “Oh, I want to join [the wrestling team],” I would say, “Yeah, do it! I need someone else!”
What has this experience been like overall?
I’m really glad that I did it. I think it’s been a very interesting experience and it’s something that I never thought I’d do.
Do you plan on wrestling again next year?
Yeah, I think I will end up wrestling next year. Unless all the sudden [Severn] decides they’re going to have an indoor track team, because [wrestling] really kept me in shape and I made some new friends!