Team Georgia girls wrestling for the future

News 12 Sports
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Nov. 18, 2013 Women's wrestling is not a common sport in the spectrum of athletics.

It's back in the Olympics and it's slowly gaining momentum in Georgia.

One group wanted to do more. Team Georgia girls wrestling has set out to make sure the sport keeps its place on the mat.

When asked why wrestling? Teenager Emberly Debuck had a realistic answer.

"I thought it would be cool to be a girl to actually be strong and beat people up. I know it's silly, but the fun part is being a strong girl."

Following a new path, sometimes you have to be strong. In Augusta, the world's oldest sport has a fresh look-- women's wrestling is staking a claim.

"We drove down here from Atlanta to practice because the more times we can get the girls together to wrestle the other girls. It just grows the sport that much more," Team USA liaison for Georgia Robert Horton said.

Team Georgia, the state's team for Olympic wrestling, started three years ago. From small beginnings, a small group emerged, traveling across the state to build a new kind of female athlete.

"It's a whole different mindset that you get when you go to wrestle. When you're on the mat, someone's in front of you and the whistle blows, it's like 'ok, here I go'."

A fitting philosophy for a team that fights for recognition.

Currently, less than a handful of states offer girls sanctioned high school wrestling. Around 20 colleges offer women's wrestling scholarships. Yet, the opportunities still exist in 2013.

"Last year, there were 240 scholarships available. Only 178 scholarships were taken, so there's 40 that were left out," Horton said.

In 2014, Marietta's Life University will begin a women's wrestling program. It will be the first school to offer the sport in Georgia at the collegiate level.

"College-- that's my number one goal. It's not to build state champions and national champions. I think that's a byproduct," head coach Brandon Cunningham said.

College is the motivation, but not the only one. The chance to get out of the stands and compete means just as much.