Autumn Darling (11) makes her debut as the first female wrestler in White Station history for the 2017-2018 season with one question on everyone’s mind: who will she compete against? Traditionally, many sports are not mixed-gender; there is usually a male team and a female team. What many thought was an all-male sport at White Station became co-ed this year due to Darling’s interest.
Darling hopes to promote female equality in sports as well as show people that she is just as capable as any male athlete. To join, she had to decide whether or not she would want to compete in the girls or the boys division. In Memphis, the girls wrestling division is limited; therefore, Darling decided she would take her opportunity to have more playing time in the boy’s division. However, this came with a few challenges regarding the social stigma regarding girls wrestling.
“Convincing the boys to go rough on me is hard. I have to try harder to get them to take me seriously,” Darling said.
Darling hopes to break the social stigma regarding women playing in male dominated sports or teams by challenging her male opponents to treat her as they would any other player. She has no objection to facing the boys.
“I’m willing to take down anyone,” Darling said.
Making White Station history, Darling hopes to inspire and encourage other females to step outside of their comfort zone and join the wrestling team. She has been working on recruiting more female members; Darling is persistent on making wrestling an all-inclusive sport for both genders.
“Hopefully girls that come after me will be like, ‘hey this is something I can do,’” Darling said.
“I want to open wrestling up for girls.”
Darling looks forward to seeing her growth and accomplishments within the sport and hopes to expand the female presence in the wrestling team even after she leaves.