Ever since I can remember, wrestling has been a central part of my life and my identity. My brother started wrestling when I was a preschooler, and I joined him on the mat when I was five. My relationship with the sport has impacted so many other aspects of my life and development — it’s made me mentally tougher, physically stronger, and more resilient.

When I enrolled in college at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the wrestling coach and the wrestlers, all of whom were men, warmly welcomed me because they knew I could help the team win. But right now, as the wrestling season begins, I have to sit on the bench the entire regular season — simply because I am a woman.

Tell NCWA to update its gendered rules

That’s because the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA), which governs club wrestling in college, has a discriminatory rule banning women from wrestling against men in either competitions or practice. Because there are no other women who wrestle in the entire Great Lakes Conference, the NCWA’s rule means I have no opportunity to compete during the entire regular season. The only time the NCWA allows me to wrestle is in the national championships at the very end of the year, where women’s wrestling teams — mostly from the east and west coasts — participate.

mytubethumbplay
%3Ciframe%20allowfullscreen%3D%22%22%20frameborder%3D%220%22%20height%3D%22315%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FVa5NN1o_Adc%3Fautoplay%3D1%26version%3D3%22%20thumb%3D%22%2Ffiles%2F2017-10-25-marina-goocher-560x315_0.jpg%22%20width%3D%22560%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E
Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube.com.


I have competed against male wrestlers my entire life because there are so few female wrestlers in the Midwest. I can remember wrestling tournaments in middle and high school where there were over 400 male athletes and me, the only girl. So what’d I do? I wrestled. And a lot of the time, I won.

As the wrestling season begins, I have to sit on the bench the entire regular season — simply because I am a woman.

In high school, I surpassed 100 varsity career wins, all against males — a rare accomplishment for high school wrestlers, regardless of gender. And when I have been able to wrestle against women’s teams at the end-of-year national championships, I have won, earning four girls’ wrestling titles in my weight division from high school or younger and two women’s titles so far during my freshman and sophomore years in college.

The NCWA’s rule is simply unfair. High schools across the country allow women to wrestle men when there is no women’s wrestling team, and so does the NCAA. So I could fight in the military to defend our country side by side with men, but I can’t compete against them in collegiate wrestling? There is no excuse for the NCWA to keep me off the mat while I watch my male teammates compete.

The ACLU, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Women’s Sports Foundation recently sent a letter to the NCWA on my behalf, arguing that preventing me from competing also violates the law. All I ask is to be permitted to wrestle during the regular season against my male peers.

Learn more about the case

I have proven that I’m just as talented and dedicated an athlete as any man in my weight class. I deserve an equal opportunity to compete in the sport that I love. So, NCWA, please let my coach put me on the mat — not just for me, but for the future of all women in this sport.

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.

Add a comment (36)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

There are several schools that offer engineering and Women's wrestling ...

Anonymous

There are several schools that offer engineering and Women's wrestling ...

University of Jamestown (https://www.uj.edu/academics/engineering )
Ottawa University (https://www.ottawa.edu/academics/school-of/arts-and-sciences/ouks/degree/bachelor-of-science-in-engineering-ottawa)

Anonymous

How about the boy who would not be chosen for the team if she is? Can a boy do the same for the girls swimming team? This is the kind of "selective" victimhood that ruins the true meaning of civil liberties. After a few more jaws are broken by MMA fighters who are "transgender" males fighting as women, maybe all of this nonsense will start disappearing. How about men trying out for women's volleyball where many schools have no men's volleyball? Think people.

Boudica

The only reason that boy wouldn't be chosen for the team is because he can't beat her

Mother of Wretl...

I'm so glad to see ACLU support on this subject. As the mother of an 8th grade daughter who wrestles (along with 11 & 17 year old sons also dedicated to the sport); I remain regularly stunned at the discrepancy in opportunities for female wrestling, especially at the college level.

Anonymous

So based on statements in the story above and the other story in the ACLU tweets on this I would assume that the ACLU would be fine if we just did away with all mens and womens sports and just had sports in which both men and women were participants. No men's and women's basketball teams just a basketball team. Have tryouts and the best (man or woman) make the team. Same for swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball, etc. Everything is gender neutral and the best athletes are on the team.

Anonymous

maybe if some metric like BMI was used to develop classes to compete, like, ironically wrestling. Team sports could field teams using a max team weight, height, or other measure that addresses stature. That might make even baseball more interesting

Anonymous

There are women's wrestling programs at many colleges. If she wanted to wrestle in college, she should have gone to one of those programs. A man can't join a Women's volleyball team. They go to a school which has a male volleyball team.

noel peterson

There is a place for her to wrestle. Her college does not have any other women willing to field a team. Their rules are in line.

Anonymous

I think you should change schools or go to an area where there is a womans team. You dont belong on a MENS team. Seriously you might want to look into maybe starting a womans-girls wrestling club.

Pages

Stay Informed