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Episode 80: Copper Hills High School Girls Wrestling Team Makes History on the Mat

They are considered pioneers in their sport, making history throughout the state of Utah. Girls high school wrestling became a sanctioned sport for the first time this year and at Copper Hills High School it is a season filled with success.

On this episode of the Supercast, we stop by the wrestling room at Copper Hills High where the girls wrestling team is still talking about their first-ever state tournament. Several of the girls walked away with state championships and the team placed second overall.  They are girls in a league of their own - literally making history during Women's History Month.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. They are considered pioneers in their sport, making history throughout the State of Utah. Girls' high school wrestling became a sanctioned sport for the first time this year, and at Copper Hills High School, it was an exciting season filled with success. On this episode of the Supercast, we stopped by the wrestling room at Copper Hills High, where the girls wrestling team is still talking about their first ever State Tournament. Several of the girls walked away with State Championships and the team placed second overall. They are girls in a league of their own, literally making history during Women's History Month.

We're here at Copper Hills High School with the girls wrestling team coaches. I'm going to let them introduce themselves, and we're going to talk about this sport that was just sanctioned this year by UHSAA.

Coach:
Hi, my name is Coach Hatch. I've been a coach in here at Copper Hills for 12 years. This is my first year with the girls, as expected, because it's the first year they've been sanctioned. It's been a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

Coach
Hi, I'm Cheryl Flowers. I'm the Assistant Coach here at the girls wrestling team and I've coached other sports here a couple of years. My daughter wrestles, so I joined this team.

Coach
Hi, I'm Scott Post, Head Coach here at Copper Hills High School. I'm excited to be here and to share our excitement for the sport with our girl wrestlers.

Anthony Godfrey:
Cheryl, tell me, what other sports do you coach?

Coach:
I coached basketball a couple of years back, but I stopped doing that because I was a mom first. Now my kids have all grown more and I've got my last two in the high school here. So I decided to help with the wrestling team when my daughter decided to wrestle.

Anthony Godfrey:
How does it feel to coach your daughter in wrestling the first year that it's sanctioned?

Coach:
Oh, it's an amazing experience. These girls are amazing. And to have my girl on the team, it's been fun. She's watched her brother. She's had four older brothers that have wrestled here at Copper Hills and to watch them, she kind of came in with a little bit of an advantage, you know, watching her brothers wrestle.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's exciting. What were some of the hesitations you had going into it and how do you feel about those now?

Coach:
Well, in the past, it's been a real male dominant sport, right? And watching these girls start to go up the lines in the State of Utah, some of these girls that have been amazing throughout the State. She's watched them do it, because we've gone to all these tournaments, watching these girls wrestle and she's like, mom, I just want to try it. And I said, okay, let's try it and see where it goes. And she actually is pretty good at it. So we thought, okay, why not? You know, but it's a hard sport to be against boys with. And now that it's sanctioned for girls, it's opened it up for these girls that wouldn't want to wrestle boys.

Anthony Godfrey:
Her older brothers are big fans .

Coach:
Very much so, very much. They love her and they support her one hundred percent.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say to parents who are thinking about encouraging their daughters to be part of this or whose daughters have asked to be part of it?

Coach:
Just come try a practice, right? Let them roll around on the mat, see how they like it. See if it's something that they'd be interested in. It's been really interesting to watch the different kinds of girls that are coming out. Like they said earlier, they'd come from all walks of life, different sports, dancers and everything. I would encourage any girl that wants to even try it to just to come try it, roll around on the mat. We're welcomed. They're welcome at Copper Hills at any time. We'll take anybody just to show them. We want to build a sport statewide.

Coach:
Of course, up until this year, my oldest daughter, who's a senior on the team. She wrestled on the boys team and was competitive, did a really good job wrestling on the boys team. But  with that being sanctioned, they gave them a whole new opportunity to share their love for a sport with a bunch of girls that weren't used to it yet. So that's been fun. Let's start running fireman's, so hit that lead leg, right? Heavy hand as you're coming in on that, and let's start running four or five fireman's in a row and then switched back over. And I don't care if we're dumping it or launching it, but I want to go fireman after fireman, after fireman and we'll come around and help you guys out as well as we're running through those.

Anthony Godfrey:
Will you describe a fireman now as you've told them to do that?

Coach:

Yes, they run in and grab them. So traditionally, if you think about a fireman and there's a fire, that poor fireman has to put your listless body over his back and carry you down a couple flights of stairs and save you from that burning building. And so essentially that's what it is. You get a good tie up, and we shoot the opposite hand underneath, grab those legs, pull down on the other side, just like you're carrying them. But as opposed to pick them up and running around, you throw them to their back. The reason we're working this focused on today is girls actually in college and in the Olympics wrestle was called freestyle, a slightly different version of what's wrestled in high school, which is called folk style. And so we're actually now going into our freestyle season. There are a handful of girls here that have had some opportunities and offers from colleges to go wrestle. And and so as we're going into freestyle season, we want to focus on moves like this in folk style. If you hit this move, it's worth two points. If we do this in freestyle, because you take them from their feet to their back, it's worth four points.

Coach:
Go for the hip. Yeah, no, it's fine here. Right? We've captured the arm here on this other side. We always want to make sure we keep that arm and never let that go.

Student:
Fireman's my least favorite moves.

And why is, Fireman's your least favorite?

Student:
Love fireman. Love them, but I don't like putting people over my shoulders.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. So yeah, I could see that at first it's a little uncomfortable, but then you - I just don't even know how I would start to do that. That's impressive that you guys can even do that. Tell me your name. I

 

Student:
I'm TT.

Anthony:
And you are Kara. How have you enjoyed wrestling? Did you just start or how long have you been wrestling?

Student:
My first year, so it's all new to me. I think it's pretty fun. It's amazing.

Student:
This is my first year too. I joined because I thought I needed to do a high school sport. Can't get into high school, not doing anything. And I love it so much. It's just phenomenal, such a fun year.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's fun to be involved. And you've got to find something to connect with school. I've heard that there's a real family feel and that happens really fast. Tell me about that.

Student:
I love to talk, but I don't get like sister close with people. But when I met these girls, the first day I walked in, our coach's youngest daughter was like, mom, and she starts whispering to Mrs. Pace. And then Mrs. Bass comes over. She's like, your hair looks one of our Barbies. And that moment I was like, this is family. Like, I love you girls so much. They're all funny. They're all protective. You know, they'll make good choices. They're great girls.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's awesome. Have you guys had a good support from the school? From the student body?

Student:
Oh yeah. All those things. I think most everybody knows who we are.

Anthony Godfrey:
It is Women's History Month and you ladies have made history. How does that feel?

Student:
Every day I walk into the high school, well, every other day, and I look at the trophy case and I'm picking out which trophy case should be ours because we, this is our first year and we've done so much. Like it's the practices, it's the new varsity jackets that are going to be passed down forever and ever. It's going to tournaments and walking out First Place. It's standing up to other people who are like, oh, girls wrestling is weird. And you know, it's big, it's a lot of pressure on our shoulders. And I think we've made a lot. We've made too much history, like too much for us to handle. So we need more girls to come. So they can help us blaze the trail.

Anthony Godfrey:
You are blazing a trail. There's no doubt about it.

Coach:
However, if we have one more circle on that, that angle is going to be there. And what that hand up with, pull on, pull that right. Create that angle. Half the body, attack the weak side. Let's go High C and then let's leave it in that low leg lace. And if you want to walk them through what we're doing out here and we'll get after it. That's what's unique and different about it is in folk style. There's a lot of stalling. You're staying in that position. Nothing's happening. There's no scoring. It kind of comes a little bit slower.

Anthony:
I've observed that.

Coach:
Whereas in freestyle, there's a lot more action. It's a lot more consistent. And that's why we only wrestled folk style down in the United States.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah.

Coach:
Everything in the Olympics has Greco or freestyle. And free style really benefits those that are being aggressive and that's what's made Copper Hills actually really unique this year is all of our girls learned from the moment they walked in the door is we're going to attack. And everything that we are going to do is going to be through the whole idea of attacking you. Look at some of their wrestling gear. We put attack on everything because we're going to be aggressive. We're going to dictate the match. And we want our opponent responding to us. Someone's got to react to someone who's reacting to who? We want to make sure the word dictates that action.

Anthony Godfrey:
So with certain athletes, some muscle groups may be better developed than others. And with wrestling, you pretty much have to have it all working for you, don't you?

Coach:
Absolutely. And I can attest that my daughter's on the team and she's a competitive volleyball player and she also does track. And after about the first week of wrestling, she said dad I am using muscles I didn't even know I had.

Anthony Godfrey:
So among many other good reasons for being a part of the wrestling program, it prepares you well conditioning and and toughness and all of that  for any other competition you might be involved in.

Coach:
Oh, absolutely. And I'll be honest with you, and this is going to sound funny, but girls are more willing to learn. I think boys come in with, Hey, we already know what we're doing. And these girls have been like sponges. I mean, you teach them or show them things and they literally just soak it right up. They've actually been easier to teach and coach than the boys now, they don't have that pride side, right? There's a mental difference, right? When we're guys, you teach a move.

Yeah. Coach, I'm doing that, you go over to the corner and try to just fake it. Whereas girls ask questions that, they are different. Why, what angle? And at first, when we first started coaching girls, years ago it was, are they stalling? Why are you asking all these questions make jokes? You know? And then I started realizing they really want to know the exact points to what really makes that move unique.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a genuine desire to know, not just what to do, but why am I doing it? And how can I do it?

Coach:
Exactly.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back with the team, find out how wrestling is having a positive impact outside of the sport for the successful.

Break:
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Students:
I'm Brooklyn Face. I'm Emma Williams. I'm Anya Hat, I'm Meridian Grand Prix, Bradley Graham, PT Onsot, I'm Karen LLloyd, Kimberly Flours. I'm Alyssa Pace.

Anthony Godfrey:
I am so impressed with what I've seen and I just think it's awesome. And maybe people picture girls wrestling and they wonder what that's like. Well, I can tell you is it's a lot of toughness and a lot of learning and man, a lot of hard work and you guys are doing great. Let me ask you this right off. Have you had some injuries this year? Tell me about some of the injuries you've had right here.

Student:
I started off the season kind of with an injured hip and throughout the year it kinda got worse. And then there was this one move that Brooklyn really, really likes and it messed up my shoulder. So that was fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. That's good. Tell me about competing in State. The first year that girls wrestling was sanctioned at the high school level. I know this isn't the first year wrestling for all of you, but tell me how that felt, being part of that.

Student:
Pretty weird going from knowing every single girl wrestler in the entire State of Utah to showing up to State and just seeing so many like new girls, so many girls I'd never seen before. It was just as big as the boys tournament. And it was awesome. I was so excited to be there.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you were surprised to see so many from around the State participating, right?

Student:
It was a lot different than it had been in the other years. So it was different, but I wasn't surprised. I love wrestling so much. So why wouldn't every other girl love it so much?

Anthony Godfrey:
How many years have you been wrestling?

Student:
Six, I think. I don't know, a long time.

Anthony Godfrey:
You all seem to be having a great time at this. Tell me, what you love most about wrestling.

Student:
Honestly, it's the confidence boost. I walked in here and I thought I was pretty confident. And then you start doing the practices and learning new things and you're like, oh, this is really hard. But then you get the hang of it and you start getting in the mentality, I can do hard things and it just completely changes how you see yourself, I guess.

Student:
I really liked making friends with season. I talk a lot. And so when we got to go meet other teams. I was like, okay, well we'll have two options. Be rude or go make friends. And I made a lot of friends this season. I know there was probably a girl on every team laughing. That's a really good thing that when we were on like a big family, we're like cousins, even though we're all different teams and we all like our competition, but we're all playing for the same goal.

Student:
Before there weren't as many girl wrestlers, until this year, and so they put a little side tournament of three or four girls wrestling. And so this year it's really fun to see lots more girls joining the sport. There's just more people to wrestle and so it's really fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you think it will continue to grow?

Student:
Yeah, for sure. I think this year was a good jumpstart and it was a little tricky with COVID and some parents were like, Oh, I don't know what are girls wrestling?  What's that? But now that it's kind of a real thing. I think next year everyone will be like, Oh yeah, girls wrestling is a thing. That's awesome. I want my girls to be a part of that. So I think it will just keep jumping and growing as it goes on.

Anthony Godfrey:
Can I ask you if that's a wrestling black eye?

It is. It happened last weekend at my tournament.

Anthony Godfrey:
That looks like it was a little bit gruesome. Tell me what happened at your tournament.

Student:
So I went up to Logan for Showcase Qualifiers Tournament and I got the take down and it was freestyle. So I was working for the gut. The girl tried to defend it and hit her head up super hard and right into my eyebrow. And it like instantly blew up. I won the match though.

Anthony Godfrey:
So I'm just going to say, you kind of had an Incredible Hulk kind of thing happen after that. And she got to the mat pretty quickly, I'll bet.

Students:
I didn't get the points that I wanted to, I was a little flustered, but I did end up winning, like 16 to 6.

Anthony Godfrey:
Watching the practice that does not surprise me. Tell me, what do you love about wrestling?

Student:
The competition and the confidence boost I got. It really helps with softball and wrestling.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. So you play softball as well?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
What's harder?

Student:
Wrestling.

Anthony Godfrey:
What else are you involved in?

Student:
So my last two years of high school, I'm a senior this year, my last two years I was on Dance Company so I did studio dance. I was on dance club and then this year I just quit dance and I was like, well, I gotta do something else. So then on the side I do dance and then wrestling is my main thing.

Anthony Godfrey:
And this is kind of improvised, full contact dancing, right? What other sports have you guys played?

Student:
Volleyball.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what's tougher, wrestling?

Student:
Wrestling, the toughest stuff.

Anthony Godfrey:
Does wrestling prepare you for track and volleyball?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. How about you?

Student:
Like Emma, I grew up dancing. I danced for 13 years. And I'm actually still doing it at the same time I was doing wrestling. So I would miss one practice a week just to go dance.

Anthony Godfrey:
What kind of dance do you study?

Student:
I do everything. Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary Tap, anything you can think of.

Anthony Godfrey:
Does your brain ever switched to the wrong sport and you do a take down instead of a pada beret and now suddenly you're in real trouble?

Student:
There's been a couple of times. I mean, let me say splits really do help in wrestling.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Fair enough. I could see that maybe balance as well? Besides sanctioned high school wrestling, there's also a lot of other wrestling, even preparing for scholarships. And it's a different type of wrestling as we've talked about with your coaches. How many of you are talking to colleges or preparing for wrestling in college perhaps?

Student:
Yeah, I've had a few different offers and I've been talking to a couple of different colleges, just trying to figure out where I want to go. I love the sport and so I want to continue wrestling in college for five years and then coach and just keep it a part of my life.

Anthony Godfrey:
Congratulations on having scholarship offers. The black eye can't hurt with that.

Student:
Yeah, for sure.

Student:
We have Women's Nationals coming up in a week and a half. So we've just been working hard for that to prepare. They didn't do Women's Nationals in 2020 because of COVID. So this is going to be really big. And then if you do make it onto the World Team, you wrestle all around the world. Not only do you wrestle with Olympians, you get to travel and represent America through freestyle wrestling.

Anthony Godfrey:
There are a lot of opportunities and I don't think everyone would realize that necessarily. That's new to girls wrestling, so that's really exciting. What would you say to girls who are thinking about participating or have wondered about doing it now that COVID is not going to be an obstacle next year?

Student:
For the wrestling, I've done karate and boxing  and a lot of theater. And I saw this and I thought, I'm not doing this. When you don't know what it is and you don't understand it, it looks weird. It looks like, why are they wearing Tyson Gluts? Why are they doing that? And you're just like, okay, maybe not. But I think a lot of girls like, okay, well this may seem really rude. Everybody is so nice. On the mat, we're very mean, but that's because on the mat, we don't see faces. It's just competition. You want to win because there's only one person coming off of that mat a winner. Right. And so I think for a lot of girls, think about it. Come look at our pictures, come look at our videos. They're pretty cool. And not just our team, but every other team, you know? So just do it. Like you were kind of saying earlier, you have this image of your mind image in your mind of wrestling, where it's like spitting and super buff kids. You don't have to be the super buff kid. You could be the 108 who's as big as a pinkie and still take State. You could be a 124 who is really 120 and you somehow manage to not only surpass your goals, but everyone's ideas of you. So you could take a look at me and you go, Oh, I could see that she dances, but you wouldn't picture me as a wrestler.

Coach:
When the season was starting and I convinced you guys to come in the door and try and practice one time. How many of you girls were a little bit embarrassed to tell your friends and family that you were wrestlers?

Anthony Godfrey:
A few of you? Yeah. How's it feel now? Yeah.

Coach:
How many of you girls are still embarrassed about it? I think she's going to do a few more firemen now.

Coach:
I think that shows, you know, kind of that difference in that confidence, and that perception and how the sport was at first, even this year. It being sanctioned almost looked at are they really doing this or, yeah, I'm a girl wrestler. Right? And now, from what they've accomplished, from the family that we've built within this room, everyone's proud of it. And they've accomplished great things. These girls are very unique. They've worked incredibly hard. They've given their heart and soul to it, as you can see. And through that confidence, through that attack and through the efforts that these guys have put in. They've been very, very successful. We won almost every tournament we went to, as they get off the bus and walk into the gym, all the other girls take notice. And we're be able to do that with these girls, being that family, taking care of one another and truly caring and loving and helping one another out. And so it is something that they're proud of now and they're excited about, and they want to represent the sport and they've absolutely done it in the right way.

Student:
I wear my varsity jacket every day to school. And I go to a charter school, which means that's not dress code and I should not be wearing that. But I wear it every day to school because it's not only just like a confidence boost for me, but I love it. There's big boys that I go to school with, you know, football players. And I look at them and I'll go, I'll wrestle you. And they're like, I'm a 190 and I'll go, I'll wrestle you. I'm a 145.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're learning how far skills can get you.

Student:
Exactly. And like coach was saying, talking is such a big thing. Not only like wrestling, I do that, but in my entire life now. I'd work hard and go and get what I want now.

Anthony Godfrey:
Love that. Don't get what you want. Go get what you want.

Student:
Depending on what you have, you can use it. If you're stronger, you can use your strength. If you're longer, you can use your length. Wrestling is literally for everybody. And I think it's such an important skill to have to know that you don't have to adapt to the social norms or you don't have to adapt to an ideal body. You just have to use what you have and succeed with it.

Student:
Yeah. Kind of to go with Brooklyn. Wrestling is such an individual sport.  There's a high crotch, but there's a million different ways to do a high crotch, depending on your length, your strengths. However you wrestle, you can turn a simple high crotch into your move and make it your your top dog, your exact perfect move for you. You don't even have to be an athlete to wrestle because you'll become an athlete and you'll gain those strengths.

Anthony Godfrey:
Skills. I love that I don't have to be an athlete. You'll become an athlete. That's right, right. You guys are super impressive. I can't tell you how excited I am to see your enthusiasm and to see what a positive thing this has been for you. So thanks for letting me spend time with you. I'm going to keep watching this sport and I know great things are ahead for you guys. So congratulations.

Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Supercast. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see out there.

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