BUFFALO, N.Y. — “Wrestle like a girl” is a phrase that has evolved into an entirely different meaning than it used to.
This development of the phrase and sport of women’s wrestling has changed so much over time due to girls like identical twin sister duo Hannah and Brenna McCarley.
The McCarley sisters are junior wrestlers at North Tonawanda High School, and they have both been in the sport long enough to notice a difference in female popularity over the past few years.
“My sister started in eighth grade,” Brenna McCarley said. “Then I decided to come up and try it because she wouldn’t let me for a while, because it was her sport. I talked to the coach, and he wanted me on the team, and then it all just started from there.”
Hannah McCarley added: “I would go to all the varsity tournaments, and it would just be my one teammate, and then like two other people would be wrestling guys. Not that many girl tournaments. Then this year it’s just like so many more people.”
In fact, there were so many more girls wanting to get involved this year that the league held its first all-female state championship, along with the fourth annual intersectional championship.
However, prior to this breakthrough of popularity, some girls who started a while ago only had one option.
“You had to wrestle with the boys,” said Albert Baker, the father of Doris Baker. “If you wanted to play tackle football, you played tackle with the boys. Baseball, with the boys.”
Now the McCarley twins, along with their teammate and friend Doris Baker, are just three high school female wrestlers getting the opportunity to be some of the first members on an all-girl collegiate wrestling program.
“I think there are a lot of girls that have the ability to do this sport, and the more we spread it and the more people join, I think it’s just super exciting,” Doris Baker said.
These girls are not only having major success in the sport they love, but they are also paving the way for younger girls to come.
“Any girl can do anything,” Hannah McCarley said. “Girls can wrestle too. It’s just really great.”