Only female on wrestling team prepares for CIF

Jocelyn McGuinness and Emma Califato

It’s a bright and early morning, the room is crowded and wrestlers are warming up. Teams are coming to weigh in and are patiently waiting in the staging area to be assigned to their competition. The buzz of nerves is running through the wrestlers as they wait their turns to get onto the mat. 

This is the setting that sophomore Gabby Doran, the only female wrestler on the Varsity Wrestling team, describes as a normal tournament day. 

Doran began her wrestling journey in second grade. She started off by learning Taekwondo and focused on that for about seven to eight years. In sixth grade, she then started to take Jiu-Jitsu and wanted to continue with it as a sport during high school. But she decided to stay in her comfort zone and joined the wrestling team. 

“I like wrestling because I was never really into the whole like peppy thing,” Doran said.“I played basketball for a little bit, but I never really liked all the ball sports and having to look really nice and stuff… so I like doing wrestling because it gets you in really good shape and it gets you really strong and it also is something that just builds my confidence.” 

Being in a male dominated sport, Doran wanted to wrestle, but the fact that she was the only girl was hard mentally. However, she now uses it as an advantage and motivation to work harder to be able to keep up with the boys.

“[The boys] push me to do better and strive to be good,” Doran said. “It works really well and I have a lot of fun with them…”

Her position on the wrestling team has brought out many different types of reactions from people. 

“People are very surprised,” Doran said. “Especially when I tell people I don’t really know. Also, when they hear I’m the only girl too, it’s an extra surprise for them. It’s a growing thing now and I [tell them] because I like to do it.”

To be a girl on the wrestling team doesn’t mean she’s only going to compete against other girls. Doran usually wrestles boys during duels but wrestle girls during tournaments and individually. 

“Everyone is pretty happy afterward and you meet a lot of new girl friends,” Doran said. “Everyone is very supportive [since it’s both] a team and individual sport. You go out there individually but everyone kinda works as a team… It’s really cool when you are at a tournament with no [other teams] and everyone is cheering you on. It’s nice to see that there are people who are always there to support.”

Luis Renteria, the Head Coach for the Varsity Wrestling team, describes Doran as “very focused, and driven”. Renteria has coached girls on past wrestling teams.

“[We] don’t treat her [differently] and she never complains,” Renteria said.

Junior Jaden Eun, Gabby’s teammate, didn’t see much of a shift in the team after she joined, because of her gender. 

“It really didn’t have much of a change but she was a new member last year, which always changes the team dynamic slightly due to someone we didn’t know before joining,” Eun said. “It is nice to have her for the team diversity and hopefully more girls will be inspired by her and join.”

According to Eun, Gabby is a hardworking, focused, and kind teammate. As the season progresses, Eun says she is competing well in the female tournaments and always working hard to improve. 

“She is a good teammate because she works hard, she hardly complains, and she helps out with the newcomers to show them the ropes as she has been involved in our program for two years now,” Eun said.

Unfortunately, last year Doran suffered an injury and tore her ACL, causing her to be out of the whole 2018-2019 season, her freshman year. 

“It was really upsetting and it really kind of put me down a lot because I just want to do the sport and I really wanted to [wrestle against others],” Doran said.“Honestly, at times I [felt] like I didn’t want to do it anymore. In the end, when I came back, I was really happy that I [did].

Doran has since recovered and is now on the varsity wrestling team. Her record, as of February 12th, 2020, is now 21-3 in the girls division and 25-8 in the boys and girls division. She is now preparing for CIF where she will compete at El Toro High School on February 12th, 2020, preparing to make it to the next round of CIF. 

“My words of wisdom are to not be afraid because they’re guys,” Doran said. “I mean, there are so many girls and women who are in sports and do stuff like this who have beaten guys, like I’ve beaten guys, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’d be something to work up to and to strive to beat guys.”