WHS wrestling adds another girl to a male-dominated team


Credit: Courtesy of Mia Djafari

Freshman Mia Djafari wrestles at a meet in Lowell. Djafari is one of two female wrestlers on the team and started wrestling this season. “[Girls are] just as good as all the guys,” Djafari said.

Hailey Robinson

Wayland wrestling recently brought in freshman Mia Djafari as the second girl on the team, joining junior Emma Sheehan, who is in her second year of wrestling. Wrestling is a historically male-dominated sport, but Djafari doesn’t let the stereotype stop her.

“I have a background in Taekwondo, and I’ve been doing that since I was four,” Djafari said. “Getting into high school, I really wanted to do a school sport, so I just thought wrestling would be a good balance to that.”

Djafari’s background in martial arts helped her grow accustomed to being one of few girls participating in the sport. To her, it’s second nature, despite what her critics may say.

“A lot of my friends and my parents were really confused why I wanted to be in a sport with all boys, and a lot of my friends tried to convince me to do a different sport,” Djafari said. “I just told them ‘It’s my life, it’s my environment, it’s what I want to do.’”

Last year, Sheehan joined the team. Sheehan used her experience to mentor Djafari.

“[Djafari] comes to me with questions, she’s more comfortable talking to me and it’s easier to talk about normal ‘girl talk,’” Sheehan said.

Despite wrestling being a typically male sport, wrestling coach Sean Chase views his female wrestlers the same as any other member of the team.

“You’re wrestling just another person at the end of the day,” Chase said. “It’s not a girl, it’s just another wrestler who happens to be a girl.”

According to Chase, wrestling has become a more popular sport for female athletes,

“Having a girl on your team is no longer something unusual,” Chase said. “I think for every four teams in Massachusetts in high school wrestling, you’re going to find at least one girl.”

Wrestling often provides for a change in pace from other sports girls may be involved in. Generally speaking, male athletes are more exposed to contact sports, while girls teams usually aren’t permitted contact by rules of their traditional sports.

“They don’t have opportunities to be involved in contact sports in the sense that guys do,” Chase said. “There isn’t something similar to [wrestling] that women have the opportunity to get involved in unless they’re doing martial arts.”