Wrestling: An Inclusive Sport

CRLS Team Fights Misconceptions


Photo Courtesy of Henry Goodman

CRLS wrestling created wrestling clinics for middle schoolers.

Andrew Mello, News Editor

While it might not always be the first sport one would think of here at CRLS, the boys wrestling team has made it their top priority to move up that list and take center stage. Helmed by Coach Sam Novod, CRLS wrestling hopes to climb up the ranks of CRLS sports but changing the public’s perception of their team.

Many misconceptions have hung over the sport of wrestling at the high school level for decades, as illustrated by Coach Novod: “It’s not WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment]. You’d be surprised how many kids come in expecting punches.” Novod doesn’t feel that the lack of understanding most newcomers originally hold is a hurdle to the team’s performance. “New kids coming in here have never seen a wrestling mat before,” Novod told the Register Forum. “Everybody on the team now besides Zach [a co-captain] had never wrestled before high school.” With more modest expectations of newcomers, the sport seems to be far more accepting of beginners than many others offered at CRLS, as the main challenges become the commitment and making small improvements with every meet rather than keeping up with the rest of the team. As an individualized competition, wrestling requires an athlete to work on their own goals, no matter what skill level they happen to have.

One of the more welcoming aspects of the sport comes with its inclusivity, as a wrestler’s mentality can often be more important than natural ability. Where wrestling becomes most accessible, however, is in the separation of weight divisions between competitors. This ensures that no athlete has to go into a match with someone entirely beyond their capacity. John Doughty ’21 speaks to the ease of access for wrestling, and how there is no better time to join than right now: “I joined halfway through this year, and I was surprised by how big of a commitment it is—how much time it takes every day. But after all [the time] I’ve been here for, it’s definitely my favorite sport.” 

In their latest push to bring in new numbers, Team Captain Zach Donnelly ’20, and Coach Novod have put a lot of time into what they’ve dubbed “clinics,” sessions hosted with the intention of introducing middle schoolers to wrestling. Donnelly stresses the personal importance of these clinics: which take place in the same room that the high school team meets. “I first found the team through the clinics [in 7th grade], and it just seemed right.” These clinics were so successful that in the last year they have been expanded to their own space for middle schoolers at Putnam Ave Upper School.

The best summary of the community the wrestling team strives to create comes at the end of every meet. With all hands in the middle, a call and response begins: “1, 2, 3, Cambridge!” before punctuating with “4, 5, 6, family!”This close dynamic is born from a shared love for the sport. As Will Kaufman ’22 puts it, “You can join other sports because you like your teammates, and while team dynamic is important here, you have to wanna do it for the appreciation of the sport and yourself.” This need for personal motivation means that while every competitor may be there for their own reason, they’re all together in a shared appreciation for wrestling.

This piece also appears in our February 2020 print edition.