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Acorn Newsmagazine

Acorn Newsmagazine

The Student News Site of Royal Oak High School

Acorn Newsmagazine

Being a Girl on a Boys Team 

The Hopes and Challenges of Girls Wrestling

Sophomore Abrialla Shamoun has been actively involved in wrestling since the previous year when she joined the boys’ wrestling team at ROHS, which historically has been dominated by males. Wrestling is a sport that has not traditionally had a girls’ team at ROHS. In an effort to address this, Head Coach Jason Palazollo and Abrialla attempted to create an all-girls team. However, the initiative did not succeed, with only two girls signing up. As a result, Abrialla and her fellow female teammate, Sami Gittenger, continued to be part of the boys’ team.

Despite the initial setback, Abrialla and Sami find a positive experience on the boys’ team. According to Abrialla, the boys treat them as equals and focus on encouraging them to improve their skills rather than viewing them as weaker due to their gender. She states,

“They definitely don’t look at us differently, they don’t look at us like ‘oh, the girls are a little bit weaker, they look at us like, you need to get faster. We want you to be stronger.”

The sense of teamwork and camaraderie within the team is evident, with the girls feeling seamlessly integrated into the wrestling community, where performance is based solely on weight. Coach Palazollo observes,

“Abrialla’s work ethic has gotten a lot better this year to last, now she’s working on things and able to set goals for herself. She has a plan.”

Reflecting on the challenge of recruiting enough girls for a separate team, Abrialla suggests that the perception of wrestling as a male-dominated and potentially hazardous sport might discourage some girls from participating. She emphasizes the importance of being careful and attentive to safety measures, stating,

“I think there’s a lot less girls in wrestling because it is such a male-dominated sport and a lot of people just see all of the disgusting things that can come out of it. You see the bleeding, the ringworm, and it’s very contact and people get worried.” She adds, “It’s all about being careful and paying attention.”

Abrialla embraces the challenge of wrestling alongside boys, using every opportunity as a chance to learn and improve. Coach Palazollo noted,

“Abrialla did a really nice job trying to promote the team. She hung up many signups all over the school. She really did a great job. She really tried. I feel like it really takes a certain type of person to do this.” Despite her solo commitment to forming a girls’ team, the lack of participation prevents its realization.

When discussing the limited female participation, Coach Palazollo notes that Royal Oak has a strong soccer community, and sports like wrestling were not as emphasized in the early years. Palazollo specified,

“We live in a community where you have to take into account when the first time you hear about wrestling is versus when the first time you hear about soccer. That’s the thing that makes Royal Oak unique as opposed to everybody else is that Soccer is a huge thing. This is the only community where kids play soccer so competitively when they’re so young. It’s hard to get that mentality to switch from soccer to such a physical sport.” He adds, “You’re asking someone to put their hands on someone and hold them there for 2 seconds.” Palazollo experienced the same issue with the boy’s team 5 years ago when he took over the program.

Looking ahead, Abrialla remains hopeful for the future. She envisions forming a girls’ team by her senior year, aspiring to become a captain and share her knowledge with future female wrestlers. Despite the challenges, both Abrialla and Coach Palazollo express hope for a more inclusive and diverse wrestling community in the future.

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Lilliana Heline
Lilliana Heline, Web Editor
Hi! My name is Lilly Heline and I am a Senior here at ROHS. This is my 2nd year on the Acorn and first year as web editor! I'm super excited this year for the start of the Acorn website. Outside of school, I love reading, travelling, and spending time with friends. I also play softball for the high school and am the starting varsity pitcher. My favorite movie is Fast and Furious, and my favorite flowers are Blue Hydrangeas. I am super excited for my last year at ROHS!

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