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Chapter 9 of your textbook discusses the search for gender equity in sport. Efforts to promote gender equity have been complicated both by long-held biases and by challenges related to the development of just policies. At the center of the discussion lies one basic question: Does organizing women and men into separate sporting spaces make sense?


Read Corey Kilgannon’s article in the

New York Times

entitled, “New York High School Wrestlers Break Stereotypes in Coed Division” (PDF under this week’s “Reading” tab). The piece profiles wrestling in the New York City Public Schools Athletic League, where boys and girls feature on the same teams.

Then, in a one-page reflection (double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12 pt., Times New Roman font), please respond to the following questions: What are the benefits of having co-ed wrestling teams according to students and coaches interviewed? Do you think there are any potential drawbacks with co-ed teams? Does the wrestling model serve as a useful one for other sports? Why/why not?

New York High School Wrestlers Break Stereotypes in Coed Division
By Corey Kilgannon
Feb. 3, 2016
At a typical high school wrestling match, boys compete on the mat while girls cheer them on in the stands alongside other
But things were different at a New York City public high school match on Tuesday night, as the Bronx High School of
Science took on the Seward Park Educational Campus, whose wrestlers had traveled to the Bronx by subway from the
Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The wrestlers’ benches were crowded with boys and girls warming up and cheering on one another as competitors of both
sexes took the mat to compete, making it hard to tell initially whether these were boys’ or girls’ teams.
In fact, they were both.
It was a playoff match for a new coed wrestling division of the city’s Public Schools Athletic League, in which boys and
girls are part of the same teams, practicing together and competing in matches. Individual bouts are same-sex — boys
wrestle boys and girls wrestle girls — but the matches contribute to a team’s overall score.
In the playoffs this week for the new 12-team division, four teams advanced to the finals on Thursday, which are to be held
at Bronx Science.
The new division creates an official space for girls in a high school sport that is still male-dominated and in which girls
seeking to compete typically have to practice with boys and crack an all-male starting lineup, despite often finding
themselves at a strength disadvantage.
Amanda Rodriguez, 17, and Samee Buccellato, 14, of Bronx Science practice before the
match. Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
This does not mean that girls cannot defeat boys. Rachel Koltsov, 17, a senior captain who wrestles in the 149-pound weight
class for Bronx Science, has beaten a few boys this season in individual competition. But her success against girls in the
school’s team matches has helped propel Bronx Science to the top of the new league, with an undefeated record of 11-0.
Rachel attributes the team’s success largely to the chemistry between boys and girls, both in practice, where they work
out together, and in matches, where they seem to complement one another.
“The boys are intense, but the girls are more calm, so we balance each other,” she said, eliciting a nod from her teammate
Eliot Giannoni, 17.
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“They’re the secret to our success,” Eliot, a junior who competed in the 182-pound weight class, said.
Chris Smith, their coach, said, “Having girls on the team definitely changed the boys’ outlook.”
“Before, the boys were just about themselves, but now they’re more encouraging,” he added. “Now, there’s more
excitement on the bench.”
By focusing on learning technique, Mr. Smith said, girls also set a better tone at practice.
“Sometimes guys tend to feel they know it all,” he said, “where, with the girls, you have their undivided attention.”
The new coed division is the first of its kind in the state, and perhaps the country, Ken Bigley, the commissioner of the
Public Schools Athletic League, said.
Benny Chan, 17, and Rachel Koltsov, 17, captains of the Bronx Science team, warm up
together. Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
The league started a girls’ wrestling division three years ago, and the number of teams has grown from 16 to 21, with a
total of 300 girls who participated in the girls’ season last spring.
Still, that number is small compared with the roughly 1,670 boys who are wrestling on 78 public school teams citywide.
But girls continue to push their way into public high school wrestling rooms across the city, increasing to more than 250
from fewer than 100 over the past four winter seasons, Mr. Bigley said, a figure that includes the integrated league and allmale teams.
Of the integrated division’s 250 wrestlers, more than 100 are girls, said Eric Goldstein, chief executive of the New York City
Department of Education’s Office of School Support Services, which oversees athletics.
The rising interest in wrestling among girls spurred Mr. Bigley to push for incorporating them into this year’s winter
season in some schools by establishing a coed wrestling division.
“We’ve been ignoring half the students by not opening the winter wrestling season up to girls,” he said. “This is a way of
growing the sport of wrestling in a gender-neutral manner, without an increase in budget.”
Mr. Bigley called the new division “a model to grow wrestling in the rest of the country” and added that the coed lineup
helped solve the problem many boys’ teams had in filling weight classes.
Boys and girls shake hands at the end of the match. Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
With boys and girls sharing a team, Mr. Bigley said, “There’s a new level of respect they’re showing for each other.”
“Now it’s not boys cheering for boys, or girls cheering for girls,” he added. “They’re all cheering for their team.”
Jacque Davis, director of women’s wrestling at Beat the Streets, a nonprofit that promotes wrestling and that worked with
the Public Schools Athletic Leauge to start the coed wrestling division, said she hoped increased access to the sport would
help expand opportunities for girls. The integrated division, she said, could put more girls on the radar of the growing
number of colleges that have girls’ wrestling programs. The popularity of women’s wrestling has grown, in part, as a result
of the sport’s being added to the Olympic Games in 2004.
On Tuesday night, the Bronx Science Wolverines steamrolled the less experienced Seward Park Bears, whose wrestling
program, which has a squad of 13 boys and 11 girls, is in its first year of official competition.
Still, two Seward girls, Tiffany Vargas, 17, and Princess Diaz, 17, won their bouts, which they partly attributed to the tough
practices and workouts run by their coach, Sean Coffin. His routines include 6:30 a.m. practices and runs over the
Williamsburg Bridge and through school hallways and stairwells.
The girls did have to contend with what they said were minor annoyances, including having to take off jewelry and trim
their fingernails, said Princess, who had to remove a dozen metal studs from her ears before competing.
Mr. Coffin said he recruited wrestlers for his team by posting fliers in the school.
“The fliers said boys and girls were both welcome, so they never knew if it was a boys’ or girls’ team,” he said. “I thought
about running separate practices for them, but I saw I could push the boys and girls exactly the same, so I combined
As Daniel Freidmutter, 17, a senior wrestler at Seward Park, put it, “It’s not about gender; it’s about the love of the sport.”
A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 18 of the New York edition with the headline: Meeting Their Match in a New Coed Division

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