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GHS students promote women in wrestling

Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2023 —

UPDATE: Two additional young women, Taliyah Jackson and Chi Chi Delvalle, joined Katie Thibault on the wrestling team after the original information for this article was submitted. They finished the season as powerful role models for young women in sports and continue to believe more women should join the team.

When Katie Thibault attended her first wrestling practice as an elementary school student, she had no intention of signing up for the male-dominated sport. She was just there to watch her cousin, William Hand, wrestle.two girls pose for photo inside

“It was interesting, I liked how competitive it was,” said Katie, explaining that single practice was enough to convince her to join the youth wresting team. At that time, there were a handful of other girls on the team.

Now in her first year at Geneva High School, Katie is again wrestling — this time as the only girl on the Geneva High School wrestling team. There are a few other female wrestlers at other Finger Lakes schools, but in general Katie trains and competes with male wrestlers. “At first it was kind of awkward,” Katie admitted, but her teammates and coach James Lyons quickly made her feel like one of them.

“We all got to know each other and we got really close because we’re with each other all the time; I didn’t feel left out; they didn’t see me as an outsider,” said Katie. 

two people post for photo inside

Despite that, Katie would like to encourage more girls to join the team. “It’s a physical and a mental sport,” she said. “It’s a team sport and also an individual sport.”

Katie also plays girls lacrosse and girls soccer, so she knows what it’s like to be on a girls team, and there are certainly a few differences, she says. Conversations, for example, tend to be a little more natural with girl teammates. “They go through the same things you do,” said Katie. She also says she notices subtle differences between how girls wrestle (she wrestled at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Girls Wrestling Championship in January) and how boys wrestle. In the end, though, it’s about being part of a team that challenges and supports her. “I like how close we are,” said Katie.

Katie says she doesn’t care who she wrestles, but she would like to see more girls join the team.