Kim Takes Down Wrestling Stereotypes


Mikhail Vasilyev, Staff Writer

In just her 1st season wrestling, Arine Kim is the only girl on the varsity team. So far, she has won 4 matches this season.

Kim decided to join the wrestling team after seeing promotional posters around campus.

“I was still a bit skeptical after seeing the posters because I thought it was going to be really strict and demanding, but the demonstration showed me how fun and even, kind of, how ‘laid-back’ it was,” said Kim.  The demonstration was a special visit to her PE class by several veterans of the team who demonstrated various techniques during an exhibition match.

Being a novice wrestler at the beginning of the season, Kim had much to learn. “All of the crazy jargon such as ‘sprawl’ and ‘pin’ really confused me. I didn’t know how the point system worked at all, and I had no clue what was legal and wasn’t. I just felt really intimidated by all of the new things,” she said.

The beginning of her season was tough, and she debated giving it up. “Wrestling became more of a chore than a hobby for me. It began taking up more and more of my time and took away my ability to participate in other activities. I had to wake up at 5 am every Saturday and I hated that, and all of that just made me want to quit,” admitted Kim.

Luckily, she decided to stay, and her love for the sport developed.

At the start of the season, Kim wrestled on the junior varsity team.  However, team policy allows a JV wrestler to challenge a varsity member at any time, and if the JV wrestler beats the varsity member, the JV wrestler is moved up to the varsity level.

Varsity coach Sam Sotello said, “I think that this system is really great. It gives anyone a chance to move up at any time so they don’t feel deadlocked in a position. It also promotes more equality with the wrestling divisions and keeps the varsity on their feet!”

Taking advantage of this system, Kim challenged varsity freshman Noah Hammon, and after an intense match, Kim was victorious. According to Kim, she was losing to Hammon in the early stages of the match but managed to pin him in the end.

Being a girl in a male-dominated sport has its drawbacks. According to Kim, at the start of the season, male wrestlers didn’t put in as much effort when facing her compared to when they wrestled other males. They also said things like, “I’m scared to wrestle her because she’s so fragile.”

Kim’s progress changed those attitudes. “As the season went on, the guys realized that I was just like them and was just as capable. Afterwards, they began to actually try hard against me and weren’t scared about hurting me. This was when I really felt accepted on the team,” explained Kim.

Some of Kim’s classmates were also slow to accept her wrestling prowess. “It was actually pretty funny when people didn’t believe that I wrestled. They probably thought I was too fragile, or that wrestling was for guys only because so many people denied that I wrestled. I know that if I was a guy, then everyone would have believed me, so I just felt that I had a chip on my shoulder and had to prove myself more,” said Kim.

Varsity teammate Connor Finnerty like the other guys on the squad, didn’t think much of Kim until he saw her wrestle. “She was a whole lot better than I thought. She definitely deserved that varsity spot,” he said.

Sotello admires Kim’s tenacity and commitment to the sport. “Girls’ wrestling is the fastest growing sport in America, but wrestling itself is still seen as a male-only sport by most. I really gotta respect Arine for stepping up and being a part of the team. It takes a lot of bravery and we’re grateful for her being with us,” he said.

Kim plans to continue wrestling throughout her high school career, and hopes to promote the sport and work to make it more socially acceptable for girls to participate. “I’m trying to have wrestling be more popular for girls. I just want them to stop seeing it as an guy-only sport, and I want them to know its really fun. In the mean time, I will continue trying to promote it to my friends.”