GREENSBORO, N.C. — When you go to a wrestling meet, you expect to see some takedowns, reversals and maybe even a few pins.
That’s no different for Greensboro College, except this year, they’re changing what the world of wrestling looks like.
“I saw an opportunity to seek history, and we took it,” said Head Coach Kevin Birmingham.
Looking at his team, you may notice two athletes on the mat who stick out from the rest.
“I’ve been the only girl since middle school, going into high school,” freshman wrestler Ariana Wolkerstorfer remembered.
Ariana is no stranger to being a woman in a man’s world.
“In middle school, people like bullied me,” she mentioned. “I’ve had a few people forfeit matches because they didn’t want to wrestle me.”
From a young age, she knew she could break boundaries.
“A lot of people thought I would quit within the first few weeks,” she said. “And then I stayed in.”
For Lexie Chase, her journey to the mats has looks a little different.
“I’ve never in my life wrestled. I’ve never even seen a wrestling match until like last summer,” she laughed.
Always a soccer player, Lexie decided to jump in with Ariana and join the first women’s wrestling program in North Carolina.
“I tried to recruit as many as my teammates as I could. And no one wanted to do it,” she mentioned. “So I said, ‘well, I’m not going to give up on this dream.'”
A dream that may seem far fetched to some. But to Greensboro College, Ariana and Lexie are just like everyone else on the team.
“This is not a gender sport. I’m going to hold everyone to a high standard,” Coach Birmingham emphasized. “I’m going to hold everyone to the expectations of our program. When you’re wrestling, you’re wrestling. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrestling male or female. You’re wrestling.”
That mindset has paid off. In a brand new program, Ariana has already become the first female to ever win a college wrestling match for a North Carolina institution, showing she can pull off what any male can.
“It’s hard being with all the boys all the time, but it’s really rewarding,” she said. “It’s a real confidence booster most of the time.”
“If I were to put either of those girls against any of the guys on our team, they’re gonna scrap and do what they need,” Coach Birmingham added.
Now, the focus shifts towards growing the sport. And to that, the team offers just one bit of advice.
“Go for it,” Lexie said with confidence. “Have no fear.”
“If you believe in it, then we’re gonna do it, and I believe in it. And obviously the proof is in the pudding,” Coach Birmingham added.
From believing to becoming, Greensboro College has become the first to pave ways in the state but not the last.
“They’re sparking the revolution of women’s wrestling,” Coach Birmingham concluded.
With a winning program, the Pride is showing female wrestlers all around that the future for the sport is already here.