All This National Champion Wrestler Wants Is a Chance to Compete

UPDATE: On March 10, 2018, Marina Goocher won her third collegiate national championship and seventh national title overall, defeating Kendal Davis of Colorado State University at the NCWA National Wrestling Championships in Texas.  

Marina Goocher just wants an equal opportunity to wrestle in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association. The NCWA’s response: Build your own women’s team.

Goocher, a national champion college wrestler in her junior year, is a favorite to win another national championship in a few days. Yet she has been benched for the entire last three regular seasons in her wrestling league, the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA). Despite the male team at University of Michigan-Dearborn having abundant opportunities to train and attend NCWA competitions throughout the season, NCWA rules prohibit Marina from wrestling.

The problem: Not only are there no other women on Marina’s college team, there are also no other women wrestlers in the entire Midwest conference. The NCWA says women in Marina’s position can’t compete or practice with men on her team — even if it means she has to sit out the entire season.

All Marina wants is a chance on the mat. So she called on the ACLU and its partners for help. Along with the National Women’s Law Center and the Women’s Sports Foundation, the ACLU wrote a letter in October last year to the NCWA urging it “to change the rules of the college-level club wrestling association” so Goocher can compete against male wrestlers during the regular club wrestling season.

The letter explains that the NCWA deprives Marina of an equal opportunity to wrestle, which is both discriminatory and opens up NCWA member schools to liability. The NCWA’s response: too bad. It then NCWA accused Marina of laziness.

“It seems as though Ms. Goocher has been content to do nothing,” the NCWA wrote in November, “instead expecting the competition to come to her, and demanding other individuals do the hard work it takes to build a competitive clubs team program.”

The NCWA’s response to Marina deflects attention away from its mission as a national organization founded to create equitable opportunities for all of its wrestlers regardless of their gender. Instead, it blames one of its star athletes for her predicament. It is simply unfair to say women collegiate wrestlers bear the sole burden of ensuring women have equal opportunities as men in a wrestling association with such broad reach and resources.

And even if Marina could recruit, train, and develop a full women’s team at her university, who would this hypothetical women’s team compete against? There are no other women’s teams in their conference, and the NCWA rules prohibit them from wrestling male teams.

To be clear, Marina’s case is not about women wanting to wrestle men. It is about having an equal opportunity to compete against the competition available to you. None of the opportunities the NCWA puts forth as alternatives for Marina is actually equivalent.

For example, the NCWA listed nine events which Marina could have chosen to attend. None of them are NCWA competitions. Rather they are open competitions where anyone can attend regardless of age or ability. Marina, remember, is a national champion.

Furthermore, only two of the open tournaments are located in Michigan and the remaining tournaments would require her to travel as far as Minnesota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin. Essentially, if Marina were forced to pursue these alternative “opportunities,” as the NCWA puts it, she would have to expend exponentially more resources and time than her male teammates to travel across the country every weekend. This is not exactly the definition of equal.

The NCWA has even gone so far as to criticize Marina for choosing to attend UM-Dearborn instead of other institutions that may have larger women’s teams. Again, the NCWA can’t wiggle out of its obligation to provide equal opportunities to both men and women by putting the onus on individual students to attend schools that have women’s teams. Marina had plenty of reasons to attend U-M Dearborn, like its engineering program, and the NCWA should ensure that female athletes have equal opportunities to wrestle no matter where they choose to attend college.

As the ACLU, WSF, and NWLC have explained in response, Marina’s objective is to ensure that women and men have equal time on the mat until the sport of wrestling recruits and engages more women. But until there are enough women’s teams to create equal opportunities for women wrestlers, Marina, and women like her, must be given a chance to compete against men for a spot on the school wrestling team and compete in matches against men during the regular season. Anything less is discriminatory and wrong.

You can stand up for Marina and the rights of all women athletes by telling the NCWA to change its discriminatory policies. Join us in telling the NCWA to update its antiquated, gendered rules and stop denying Marina Goocher her right to compete in wrestling this season.

View comments (37)
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Anonymous

I'm willing to bet you have not given one dime to the ACLU

Anonymous

Why would you donate to the ACLU anyway ?

Anonymous

I'M SORRY BUT WOMAN CANNOT COMPETE ON THE COLLEGE LEVEL, MEN HAVE TO MUCH STAMINA AND STRENGTH SHE CAN COMPETE ON THE WORLD TEAMS, AND OLYMPICS, THERE ARE OTHER WOMEN HELEN MARGOLIS IS ONE OF THEM, LEARN FREESTYLE AND GRECO THEN COMPETE WITH THE WOMAN ON THAT LEVEL AND THE ACLU SHOULD KEEP THERE BUSINESS OUT OF SPORTS AND EVERYTHING ELSE THERE COMPLAINERS AND I CAN'T STAND THEM

Anonymous

Men have stamina and strength? She'd have to compete and win to make the team, just like men. She's a national champion, for God's sake-do you really think she sucks? You're complaining when all she wants is a chance. This woman can't compete at the college level because she's not allowed to-has nothing to do with her abilities. [Btw, *women, *too, & don't you believe in periods? Guessing you did not go to college yourself.]

Ryan

Use your Greco Roman skills to click the Caps Lock off.

J

1. It’s impolite to yell
2. The word is “they’re”
3. The other word is spelled “too”
4 . As a national champion, I would assume that means she also has strength and stamina.
5. Plural adult females are “women”
6. As you may have read, there are no women near her to compete with. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Anonymous

If she really is inferior to the men, then what's the harm in allowing her to compete against them? She'll lose, no harm, no foul. The only reason to be worried is if you think she will win. It might bruise a few fragile male egos. Talk about snowflakes!

It make sense to keep sports separate most of the time. Men would have an unfair advantage in many sports. But why not let women play sports with men? It doesn't put the men at any disadvantage.

HollyAnne

You sanctimonious prick, world and Olympic teams are *made up* of collegiate level participants! Are just stupid or did you take too many steroids, MR. CAPS LOCK? You have some serious anger management issues going there.
I had the same problem in the Air Force, dealing with insecure men line you, when I made Honor Graduate at basic training as one of only 4 people with expert marksman, graduated 5 weeks early from Air Traffic Control school as 1 of 2 honor grads (the other guy graduated on time), I was the first person from my graduating class to get facility rated, and I made E-5 in under 5 years (tied for shortest in peace time). Yup. Really pissed of the men. A LOT! And received the Air Force Medal *and* Commendation Medal in 6-1/2 years. Guys like you just hate when "girls" compete directly. Oh, did I mention 1st class on every single PT test I ever took? Or my ability to speak English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, and French?
Yeah, it was guys like you that hated me being the only female on my base's Mobile Operational Battalion in Germany.
Of course when I went back to college nobody seemed to mind my help studying in electronic engineering. Or my math and physics classes since I made A's.
You are such a frustrated little man!

Anonymous

If you have to type in caps to try and make a point, you don't have a valid point to argue. Also you aren't sorry, that's passive aggressive bs. She does have the stamina, because shes already a champion. The only thing that's stoping her are some little boys who are scarde of girl cooties.

Anonymous

*their

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