Author: Ryan Graff
The Los Angeles Unified School District did not include
coaches or stipends in new legislation when it added all-girls wrestling this season as an
official sport. This will require boys’ wrestling coaches across the district
to inherit an extra team without additional funding, according to John Aguirre,
Assistant Commissioner for the California Interscholastic Federation’s Los
Angeles City Section.
“The biggest issue in the sanctioning of all-girls’ wrestling
teams has been the absence of the addition of another coach,” Aguirre said. He
further noted that a Title IX case could result in order for schools to demand
Title IX celebrated its 40th anniversary on June 23 of this year.
It asserts that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be
excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal
Many athletes around the district have generally
welcomed the LAUSD’s landmark decision to sanction all-female wrestling with
open arms as a Title IX victory. However, the lack of funds allocation is posing a real
crisis, especially at some local schools greatly affected by budgetary issues. “Putting a team together has
been challenging so far, and only getting one stipend is a little unfair,” said
Franklin High School Head Coach Santiago “Santi” Velasquez.
Velasquez revitalized the FHS Panthers wrestling team last
year, as the school fielded a team for the first time since the 1987-88 season.
Velasquez said that he tried several times over a four-year span to restart the
program, but was told the school could not afford a boys’ team let alone a
girls’ team due to its “low-income” status.
He decided it was time to bring
back a wrestling team at FHS, and began rigorous fundraising to come up with
the $11,000 necessary to put last season’s “Resurrection Team” on the mat.
Roughly half this funding came from the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood
Council, which unanimously approved Velasquez’s request for $5,000 on April 7
of last year.
FHS’ all-female wrestling team consists solely of senior
Maggie Amaya and sophomore Pamela Molina. Amaya, who also plays on the school’s
softball team, competed in the 170-pound division at both the junior varsity and
varsity levels last season and is a prospective captain this year. Molina
competed in the 140-pound division at the junior varsity level. Both qualified
for Regionals last season and are eager to see female wrestling earn legitimacy
“Our goal is to get other girls on board and eventually be able to have a
full girls’ team,” Molina said.
Velasquez said that since Amaya and Molina comprise the
entire female team, it is difficult to secure a full teams’ funding from
private organizations. He feels that Title IX-supported federal funding is
necessary, as it would require the financial backing of an all-female team
regardless of roster size. The extra money would also allow the school to hire
a female coach to work specifically with female wrestlers.
Amaya, who felt “backlash and lack of support from parents
and some other coaches” when she decided to become a wrestler, believes that
girls would benefit from having a female coach.
“It’s not to say that Coach Santi focuses too much on the
guys,” she said. “But since there are only two of us [girls] on the team, it
makes it difficult for him to teach us moves and techniques that are more
specific to the female body.”
suggested the slim turnout of girls is due to the mentality that female
wrestlers create a taboo. “A lot of people who are really conservative are
concerned about guys touching us in weird ways. If we got a female coach,
people wouldn’t have to worry about that,” she said.
To combat the worry that males will inappropriately touch
their female opponents, the LAUSD’s sanctioning specifies that female wrestlers
are no longer permitted to wrestle against male opponents at any stage of the
regular season or playoffs. “Personally, I think [girls exclusively wrestling
girls] is applicable,” said Aguirre. “Wrestling is a sport with a lot of
physical contact that is probably otherwise inappropriate.”
Additionally, the new rules will
result in female wrestlers’ own state qualifying procedure since the CIF
started recognizing an official female state champion last year. While seniors
are subject to a grandfather clause that will allow them to qualify via the old
open-tournament format, freshmen through juniors are subject to the same state
qualifying procedure as the boys.
Velasquez and his squad have earned full support from FHS
Principal Deborah Madrigal, who also serves
as one of the school’s Title IX Complaint Resources. Madrigal said she
intends to push for equal funds distribution and increased involvement in all
sports. “In any sport, females can be just as strong as guys. We will do
whatever we can if an athlete wants to participate,” she said.
As per CIF rules, the Panthers held their first mat practice on Nov. 5 and will participate in several preseason competitions before traveling to Roybal High School for their first-ever Eastern
League match on Jan. 10.
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