The Harrisburg High School Girls Wrestling team kicked off their season this winter with high hopes. Regina Stosser, an eighth grader, started wrestling in sixth grade, but in her seventh-grade year joined the new girls wrestling program and faced some of the challenges in women's sports. Stosser voiced, “Girls high school wrestling was sanctioned last year... I immediately joined what is now recognized as the first class of high school women’s wrestlers from South Dakota.” Even though the season does not end for another month, many Harrisburg girls wrestlers, including Stosser, hope to participate in the state tournament.
Paige Storm, the head women’s wrestling coach for Harrisburg, has wrestled since kindergarten. Becoming a coach and relating to girls who never competed under a female coach allows her a chance to give back to the sport she loves. Unfortunately, the limited opportunities for the girls to wrestle in South Dakota compelled the team to locate competition elsewhere; luckily, they have found tournaments in neighboring states that have sanctioned girls wrestling. However, matches at these tournaments do not count for the records that will help qualify the wrestlers for state. Storm and other coaches must “branch out if we truly want the sport to grow.” Even though boys wrestling teams draw a higher number of participants, she wants to make girls wrestling a priority, not an afterthought.
Adjusting to a new program brings much adversity, but the wrestlers and coaches learn many life lessons along the way. Storm anticipates this process showing the girls that “things are earned, not given,” and believing in themselves improves their game the most. While learning all of these valuable lessons, the team still makes time to have fun and belong to the fastest-growing women’s sport in America.