A year and a half ago, she stepped on the mat. She just wanted to get tough workouts in. She pushed herself through the reps. She learned moves. She fell in love with the sport, but the love was always bitter-sweet.
She has been a varsity starter for two years on a team that needed her points. She has had her hand raised, but only when the other team was missing her spot.
There has been frustration. There have been buckets full of tears. There have been times where I thought she just might quit. Not her. Why would you put yourself through something that only brings you pain? In pain, she found pleasure. She told the naysayers nay, every time she put up the straps regardless of the outcome.
She is not the first girl to wrestle for me, and won’t be the last, but she paved the way for other girls at Fort Defiance in this era. She put girl-power on her back.
It’s not easy being the only at something. It’s not easy to go against the norm, but she did, and she endured.
Last night she found herself on a different mat, one across from another like her, a beauty going against the norm, someone else who fought the naysayers, someone who had traveled in her shoes.
She remembered the pain. She remembered the long evenings. She remembered the stand-ups, the push-ups, the tears. She had all of it bottled inside, and in a moment, she let it out. All of it.
The time slowed down as she spun to get two. It was the first time the ref had ever shown deuces her way. The clock stood still as she sunk in the half. She drove. With every ounce in her being, she drove. With hundreds of disappointments, she drove. With thousands of tears, she drove. With a million words from my mouth, the stories she had listened to and wanted to be a part of, she drove. The ref slapped the mat. She wrote her story.
She got up the same way she normally did. She shook her opponent’s hand. She came over to me with glossy eyes. Mine were glossy too. This time, there was something different. This time, her lips curled upwards. Cordelia won the first real match of her career. All of a sudden, it all made sense.
People may tell you things are impossible. Remember Cordelia. She heard it too. She heard the whispers. She heard the sighs. She conquered them all in one evening when her hand was raised.
By TWI Contributor Gary Kinzer