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March 9, 2005

Learning to wrestle across the world

by Diana Frey, Page Editor
The typical wrestler with his muscles bursting out of skin-tight suits, is not what one would find when looking at junior Monica Maher, Blair's single dedicated female wrestler, who weighs in at a mere 109 pounds.

Wrestling in Athens

Maher's wrestling career began four years ago in Athens, Greece, where her family moved after living in the Silver Spring area for years. Maher was the first female to join the wrestling team at her school in Greece, the American Community School of Athens. Maher's brother, who was also a member of the team, discussed with his coach the idea of his sister joining, and the team willingly accepted Maher. During her years on the team, Maher greatly influenced the school's wrestlers; four more females joined after she broke the male-only barrier, and Maher's dedication to the team earned her a captain's position.
Maher participates in a team huddle during a practice. Diana Frey
Maher participates in a team huddle during a practice.

At the end of the season, Maher's school competed with other American Community schools in nearby countries in a tournament. Maher's team practiced for an entire season without formal matches, which is not desirable for athletics. However, Maher's team was given the opportunity to see Egypt and meet other American students experiencing life in other countries.

Wrestling at Blair

When Maher moved back to the United States, she continued her wrestling career at Blair, where she was the only female member. Maher began working out with the team during pre-season so the boys got the opportunity to know her before the season even started, she says. Maher explains that the team realized that she was a serious and experienced wrestler and quickly accepted her into the wrestling family. "I'm not some wimpy girl," says Maher defiantly.

Captain Andrew Wallis agrees wholeheartedly. "She knows what she's doing," says Wallis. "We chose not to see it as awkward."

Teammate Mike Street recalls that Maher always attended study hall with the team and became more talkative and involved as the season progressed. "She's one of the guys," says Street.

Although Blair had a rough season this year with a 2-12 record, Maher enthusiastically awaits next year's season. "I think it's a great sport," says Maher.

Being the only female

For Maher, the reasons for wrestling are simple. Wrestling is the most appealing winter sport. She believes that most girls do not wrestle because of the old idea that it is only for boys. "Traditionally, it is considered a guy's sport," she says. "Stereotypically, girls wouldn't think to try out."
Maher works hard at practice. Diana Frey
Maher works hard at practice.

Because it is harder to find girls that wrestle in the wrestling world, Maher wrestled three girls above her weight category and five guys in the 112-weight category this season. Maher's final record was 4-4, winning against two girls and two boys. To her, no matter what the gender of her opponent, it is just another match. Luckily, Maher has not faced or been aware of any sore losers after a match. "I don't see the guys after matches," she says simply.

Throughout her time here at Blair, the team has supported Maher through wins and losses. "Since it's individual, you push yourself a lot, but there's still a lot of team camaraderie," explains Maher.

Although she has beat male teammates in practice to earn a varsity spot, one must win the wrestle-off in practice before the meet each week. Scott explains that although Maher has never wrestled on varsity, she is a very skilled wrestler who plans to continue enhancing her skills for the next season. "She's one of our better wrestlers," says Scott, who adds that "one disadvantage is that she is not as physically strong as the guys are." According to Scott, Maher would be willing to wrestle even the heaviest member of the team during practice if she was told to do so. "'If my coach thinks I can do it, I can do it,'" says Scott, imitating Maher. She is ultimately "a coach's dream," Scott explains.

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  • anonymous on March 9, 2005 at 11:58 AM
    i'd like to know more about what the team thinks of it awkward when they're wrestling? do the boys go easy on her? afraid to touch her in certain ways? this is a really interesting topic, but it feels like some of the interesting stuff is missing
  • wrestler on March 9, 2005 at 2:32 PM
    it isn't awkward at all. no one goes easy on anyone in practice. the article is right, she really is one of the guys.
  • just a thought on March 9, 2005 at 6:57 PM
    interesting topic to write about, but overall i think the articles poorly written.
  • hmm on March 17, 2005 at 1:21 PM
    monica is awesome.
  • wrestling blazer on May 26, 2005 at 10:01 PM
    to "anonymous"
    monica is gonna go far. at first it was awkward but after a while we all stopped caring and we wrestled her just like anybody else
  • Priscilla Parker (View Email) on December 8, 2005 at 4:39 PM
    Monica is learning about hard work, competition, and how to win. she is challenging herself and learning about who she is. i like all these things but wonder if she is crushing the egos of the boys she beats. I know it does not make sense but boys do feel humilated in losing to a girl and i hope they are not damaged too much.
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