Lady Barons duo takes the mat


Provided by BVH wrestling

After a long day of wrestling, the two BVH girl wrestlers, senior Kanoe Lopez-Griggs (left) and sophomore Tiana Alanis (right), celebrate their achievments with their coach, professional wrestler Phil Davis. Lopez-Griggs won third and qualifies for Masters, and Alanis won fifth, just short of qualifying.

For girl athletes on Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) wrestling team, experiencing the heavy stigma surrounding a male-dominated sport is common. Due to wrestling’s association with masculinity, it can discourage a lot of aspiring female wrestlers from participating.

“A lot of girls don’t get the support and showtime or as much attention as the guys do. We [girl wrestlers] don’t get the same amount of respect that guys do,” Girls’ Wrestling Captain and senior Kanoe Lopez-Griggs said. “[This is] because everyone thinks that girl wrestlers [are] boyish, or [the spectators] think we’re a certain way just because we like to wrestle.”

The lack of recognition can affect the girls’ team on how they are perceived and the way their community views girl athletes as a whole. Additionally, in BVH’s wrestling team, there are only two girl wrestlers amongst them. Because of this, the girls are almost always overlooked and deal with the fact that they are the minority.

“We have a really small program compared to Olympian [High School]. For example, they have a very large team where they have completely separate practices. We have girls practice with the guys because our team is so small,” girls’ wrestler and sophomore Tiana Alanis said. 

Although only Alinis and Lopez-Grigg are on the wrestling team, this doesn’t stop the boy members on the team from viewing the girl wrestlers as equal teammates. 

“Our girls are really competitive and I would say that they can work with the guys just as anybody [else],” boys’ wrestler and sophomore Kelly Brown said.

For girl wrestlers, it is assumed that they have to act masculine, and change their demeanor to fit in with the rest of the team. But in fact, this idea is the total opposite. In fact, there is still a family-like connection between the whole team, despite the differences. 

“There is 100 percent a stigma against [girl] wrestlers [acting] like a tomboy. [People say] ‘she acts like she’s one of the guys’ and I could see where [people are coming from] but I mean, [the whole team is] family,” Alanis said. “It’s like any other sport where your team [is always there for you].” 

Considering that there are so few girls and the rest of the team are boys, the girls’ feel more confident when going to tournaments. The majority of the time the girls only practice with the boys on the team, as opposed to other schools who practice with their girl teammates more. 

“I’m more dominant, I wrestle like how the guys do, and if I were to wrestle a girl I would be like, ‘Okay, I’ve already been here before.’ It’s the same thing as always,” Lopez-Griggs said.

In light of the fact that there are so few females on the team, it could be perceived as stressful for the girl members to push themselves even harder. But fortunately, these two girls, both having previous experience in jujitsu, helped a lot with the ongoing challenges they currently face.

A lot of girls don’t get the support and showtime or as much attention as the guys do. We [girl wrestlers] don’t get the same amount of respect that guys do.

— Kanoe Lopez-Griggs

“Even when I did jujitsu, I was used to [competing with] guys. So going into a sport that mainly had guys, I felt fine. If anything, it makes me become a better wrestler because [the boys are] bigger than me, they’re stronger, so it pushes me to my limits.” Alanis said.

When it comes to how they got started with wrestling, both female wrestlers have comparable interests. The girls both began their careers in jujitsu and have subsequently moved on to wrestling.

“For the past seven [to] eight years I did jujitsu before wrestling. So when I got to high school, I thought it would be something that I could include with jujitsu and still save my physical activity,” Lopez-Griggs said.

Both girls have mentors who are former wrestlers in their family who give them advice on how to enhance their talents on a regular basis; along with coaches who are always there to assist them while also pushing them to their limits in order to motivate them and cheer them on at their contests.

“[Some] of my mentors are my brother of course and then coach, Phil [the girls coach], then coach Anthony [the JV coach]. He came and started coaching our team right out of his high school experience, so we all picked up a lot from him,” Alanis said. 

These girl wrestlers have a similar bond with their mentors, and while they have different ones, they are both consistently supported by those around them.

 “My parents, they’re very supportive of what I do. And then I had my papa whose dad was a wrestler, so he always supported me and tried to come out to every tournament as much as he could,” Lopez-Griggs said. 

Given the small number of females on the male-dominated BVH wrestling team, the team encourages and would highly recommend for boys and girls to join the team. Brown, a former football player, enthusiastically advises the sport to people who aren’t already involved in any sports and sees how it may help you enhance your talents. 

“I would recommend it for a lot of people, it’s a really good sport to get into, and especially for football players. It’s really good just to get more mobility, faster, quicker, stronger [and] a lot of agility,” Brown said. 

For girls who are interested in a new sport and have no prior experience, girls wrestling captain Lopez-Griggs and Alanis think they should take the leap and “go out and do it, you won’t regret it.”

“You can always come in even if you don’t stay, it’s always good to try out something new. Maybe you will turn out to be really good at it, but you never know if you don’t try,” Alanis said.