Female football player tackles wrestling

December 8, 2017 — by Kaylene Morrison and Sandhya Sundaram

Freshman Nora Sherman is carrying on a family transition as wrestler.

After being the first female football player at the school and playing center for the JV team, freshman Nora Sherman is once again a minority in her next sport: wrestling.

Sherman joined wrestling knowing that it would condition her better for football and help with her technique and form since both sports are very physical and strenuous. Although there have been girls on the wrestling team previously, of the 16 wrestlers this year, Sherman is the only female.

Prior to joining the team, Sherman had wanted to try wrestling for years, but her main focus had always been on other sports.

I just haven’t really had a chance to get involved in it, but now I’m here so why not?” Sherman said.

Sherman was inspired by her grandfather, Gary Stensland, a former wrestler whose Olympic dreams were dashed by a cartilage tear in his knee. Stensland wrestled for the USA team and was a USAA heavyweight national champion several times in the 1960s. After his injury, he began coaching wrestling at various clubs, high schools and the University of Oregon.

Although Sherman was inspired by her grandfather, he and Nora’s grandmother, Ardith Stensland, both insisted that it was Sherman’s own decision to pursue wrestling.

“I think we both tried to not encourage her, so it was kind of exciting when she came upon it and didn’t get pushed into it,”  Mrs. Stensland said.

Gary Stensland is also enjoying witnessing Sherman’s wrestling skills improve day by day.

“It’s kind of interesting that she did get involved with it and I’m having fun watching what’s happening,” he said.

Wrestling coach Daniel Gamez said he is enjoying having a girl on the team again since it gives them a more diverse look.

“It helps the men become gentlemen, and I like to see that,” Gamez said.

Freshman JV wrestler Trevor Green said that the team has adjusted well to Sherman’s participation. Having also played JV football with Sherman, Green said that he is used to playing sports with a female teammate.

According to Gamez, girls’ wrestling has become one of the fastest growing sports in the nation.

“It’s always nice to get girls to try out and see the sport, see what it’s like and if it’s for them,” Gamez said.

The rising popularity of the sport for girls has made breaking barriers easier. In the past, girls’ tournaments would often be held in distant locations and often on the same day as boys’ tournaments. The few girls on the team would then often have to compete in tournaments aided not by their own coach but by the coaches of specifically all female teams. Nowadays, many JV tournaments in the area provide both girls’ and boys’ competitions.

Though the season has just begun, Gamez has already noticed traits in Sherman that will make her a successful wrestler and allow her to possibly win matches at some of these tournaments.  

“She’s very mentally tough and she doesn’t give up,” Gamez said. “Those are two of the best qualities a coach could look for.”

Other than her long hair, Sherman blends into the team and receives no special treatment. Gamez said that even though she is the only girl, Sherman is treated no differently and must compete with the boys like anyone else.

“We’re all one team. We’re all one family. There’s no boys’ wrestling or girls’ wrestling. It’s just wrestling,” Gamez said.





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