Fierce first female

Sophia Tran makes history as school’s first female wrestler


Douglas West

Sophia Tran wins her first match on December 5th against Fort Zumwalt South. This was the first win by a girl in the school’s history.

Jacob Edwards, Staff reporter

Wrestling is a physical and mental sport. It takes every ounce of strength possible to be successful, and even then there is no guarantee of success. For the longest time, wrestling was known as a purely male sport. But times are changing, and so is the sport. This winter, Francis Howell Central introduced its first female wrestler to their program: junior Sophia Tran. While she is completely new to the program, she is quickly learning and developing her skills, and becoming a better wrestler in the process.

“I’m learning and having a new experience,” Tran said. “I still push myself and I actually enjoy it, too.”

Although Tran is the first girl to join the team here at FHC, she is not the first female wrestler in the district. In fact, many have come before her, prompting the state to create a girls’ division for wrestling. While Tran is the first female wrestler at FHC, most other schools have at least two girls on their wrestling teams.

“Other schools are actually surprised,” Tran said, “I’m the only girl, while there are other girls at different schools that have more than two people.”

This is something that looks like it will be changing in the coming years, though. Girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in the state, and it’s not just the girls that are opening up to the idea. According to senior wrestler Austin Smith, Tran has been a perfect fit for their team, and the boys have taken to her well.

“She is just like another teammate,” Smith said, “It’s fun.”

“Fun” is just the beginning of it for Smith and his teammates, though. They get to watch Tran every day in practice, working just as hard as the rest of them, growing her skill set all the while. When Tran got her first win in a match, her teammates were ecstatic.

“Everybody went crazy,” Smith said, “The whole gym did. I was screaming.”

Her teammates aren’t the only ones excited to have a female wrestler at the school. While there are those who oppose it, most of the school has come together in support of Tran.

“Everybody is really proud of me, actually,” Tran said. “And I’ve gotten a lot of support from them.”

While this may be her first year of wrestling, Tran is no stranger to physical contact sports. She also does martial arts, when she is not wrestling for the school. Head wrestling coach Steven Cross credits this to her ability to learn and adapt to wrestling so quickly.

“She’s mixing her wrestling training with her martial arts,” Coach Cross said. “She does a little bit of both.”

The girls wrestling program is one that many hope to see grow in the coming years. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular new programs in the state, and many are excited to see how the program continues to grow. Tran has opened the doors for other girls to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m hoping it’ll open up the floodgates; I hope we get more girls out for the team,” Coach Cross said. “Girls wrestling in Missouri has really taken off, and I’m hoping that there’ll be a lot more that want to get involved next year.”

The wrestlers are excited for where the sport is going, as well. Many of them have never wrestled with a girl before this year, so they are excited to get more involved in the program.

“I think it’ll be good for the program if we get more girls on the team,” Smith said.

Tran is perhaps the most excited, out of everyone, to see where the future of girls wrestling will go, and she is excited for more girls to join.

“Oh yeah, they should totally join, so I don’t have to be lonely,” Tran joked. “But seriously, even if it’s supposedly a ‘boy’ sport, a girl can still do it and you can still move with it. I suggest that a lot of girls join the sport and get outside their comfort zone, because you never know what you like until you actually try it.”

Tran has done more than just open up the doors for other female wrestlers, though. She has changed the way many at FHC have thought of wrestling and other male-dominated sports, as well as changed the future of the wrestling program.

“The goal is to have the girls basically as a separate program,” Coach Cross said, “I think that’s what everybody is moving towards.”

Overall, this season has been a great learning experience, both for Tran and her teammates.

“I’m still learning, I’m still really new at it.” Tran said. “And there’s still more to learn.”

This willingness to learn is only part of the reason for her success this season; attitude has a lot to do with it.

“Her attitude stands out in particular,” Smith said. “She’s passionate, strong, hard-working, focused, and tough.”

She seems to be a fast learner, though, as both her teammates and coaches have nothing but good things to say about her, both as a wrestler and as a person.

“She is courageous, tough, intense, and determined,” Coach Cross said. “I think she has earned a lot of respect from all the other wrestlers.”

“Her attitude stands out in particular. She’s passionate, strong, hard-working, focused, and tough.””

— Austin Smith