School Desk

Girls to grapple at Bx Science


As a member of the Bronx High School of Science boys’ wrestling team for the past two years, senior Amy Furusho captured the state freestyle championship against other girls in her weight category.

But in March, Amy will wrestle for Bronx Science’s new girls’ wrestling team.

The Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) and Beat the Streets, a non-profit that works to bring wrestling to schools as a means of empowering students, have teamed up to bring girls wrestling to schools around New York City.

“I’m really excited to have a girls wrestling team at our school,” said Amy, who previously traveled over an hour to Beat the Streets’ facility during girls wrestling season, where she practiced with the “catch all” team for wrestlers without teams at their schools. She was one of three girls on Bronx Science’s co-ed wrestling team, and the only girl to continue into the females’ season.

Last year, PSAL and Beat the Streets formed 16 teams around the city. This year, the groups plan to add between six and 10 new teams, including the one at Bronx Science.

Bronx Science boys’ wrestling coach Chris Smith will manage the new girls’ team.

“I think it’s great to expand sports for both genders,” said Mr. Smith. ”It gives girls and guys different opportunities in life.“

Bronx Science co-athletic director Melissa Bertsch said about 12 girls at the school have expressed interest in joining the team. She said Amy went around the school with a sign-up sheet, recruiting girls for the team.

Practices will start March 17, and team members will compete against other girls’ teams in the PSAL league.

Justin Hoch, the director of operations and development at Beat the Streets, says wrestling provides an opportunity for kids to develop skills and grow in a team setting.

“It’s really exciting, and particularly for girls, because there’s a lot of aspects of it that culturally have been frowned upon or suppressed in terms of female empowerment and strength,” said Mr. Hoch. “It’s exciting to be able to provide that opportunity.”

As for critics who say argue that wrestling is a dangerous sport for girls, Mr. Smith said wrestling is no more dangerous than karate or judo, which many girls are already involved in.

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