COLUMN: For DeShaw, Anamosa girls wrestling is working out

Monticello High School graduate Shania DeShaw (right), head coach of the Anamosa girls wrestling team, watches as Blue Raider freshmen Maggie Wagner (left) and Ava Scranton work on their skills. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     The fears Shania DeShaw had when she agreed to coach the first-ever Anamosa High School girls wrestling team this winter have not come to pass.

     DeShaw, a 2014 graduate of Monticello High School, has instead encountered an enthusiastic group of girls, and supportive parents and administration.

     “There’s a lot of positivity,” said DeShaw, 24. “A lot of people really like the idea, because there were so many girls that were wrestling with the boys. Just to have their own (division) is really awesome.”

     The idea for a girls’ team in Anamosa came about a year ago.

     “I coached volleyball last year and this year at Anamosa, and I was questioning some of the girls as to what they were doing for winter sports,” DeShaw recalled. “A few of them said they weren’t going out for basketball.

     “They’re athletic, and I just wanted to keep the girls involved in something, keep them in shape and out of trouble.”

     DeShaw, who is originally from Hopkinton, is a paraeducator in the Anamosa school district, working in the same room with special education teacher Trevor Greene, who is the Anamosa boys wrestling coach.

     “He had talked to (athletic director) Bret Jones about having a girls’ team last year,” DeShaw said. “(This year) we kind of spitballed the idea around, and got some girls talking, and we decided to hold a meeting, just to see how many girls would be interested.”

     DeShaw said they were hoping for four or five. Instead, 16 girls showed up.

     “We were shocked,” she said. “For some of them, it didn’t turn out to be what they thought it would be, which was fine, because they at least got to know about it. So we started with 11, and then we had two more girls join.

     “I’ve tried to instill in them that this is the beginning; this is the perfect time to be joining. Everybody is still learning. I’m just trying to let them have fun and get involved.”

     To DeShaw’s delight, the boys’ team has been supportive. The Blue Raider teams often work together, with Greene organizing the practices.

     “The girls are not scared to go and ask one of the boys and say, ‘Hey, can you help me with this?’ I was a little nervous having the boys wrestle the girls to help them, but they’ve done a really good job of just being helpful,” DeShaw said.

     “It’s amazing to see them in the high school, walking past each other, and they’ll talk about wrestling, or their weights, or things that happened at tournaments.”

     Parents and administrators, too, have climbed on board.

     “A lot of the parents have really come around, now that they see that the girls are not actually getting hurt,” DeShaw said. “The girls are definitely not as aggressive as the boys, but they still get after it.

     “(The administration) has been very supportive. They’ll come up to me in the hallway and tell me how the girls are talking about it in class, how they like it.”

     The girls are mostly inexperienced, but doing their best, DeShaw said. While DeShaw comes from a wrestling-loving family – and has a wrestling tattoo on her wrist – she had never coached the sport prior to this year.

     “We’re all on the same page,” she said. “Everybody has won a couple, and everybody has lost. I always tell them that when you lose, that’s when you find what you need to do to get better.

     “At this age they’re really like sponges. They soak in all of the information. For me to learn with them is really great.”

     Because there are so few girls’ teams in Iowa, the Anamosa team has had to travel up to two hours one way for a meet. There are three meets left before the state tournament, which this year is Jan. 24-25 at Waverly-Shell Rock. Girls wrestling is not yet sanctioned by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, but is definitely growing across the state.

     “The girls do not have to qualify to go to State,” DeShaw said. “However, only one girl can go from each weight class, which means we will have to have wrestle-offs since we have multiple girls at the same weight.

     “Some of our girls have wrestled last year’s state champions and state place-winners, and have held their own.”

     Most of all, DeShaw and the Blue Raiders are getting the opportunity to try a new sport, and meet new people.

     “They’re actually making friends in other towns, so it’s just really awesome,” she said. “The wrestling community is really just one big family.”



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