Nashua, NH, March 18, 2016 --(PR.com
)-- In 2006, then Nashua Catholic 7th grader Angelica Levesque made a decision to join the wrestling team, a decision she says changed her life.
The former cheerleader first became interested in wrestling while attending practices with her father, Coach Paul Levesque. The decision to become the first female on the wrestling team did not come without angst. She worried about what her friends would think and if her teammates would treat her differently. After talking with her Cheerleading Coach, who was also her mother, Angelica knew the decision to follow her passion for wrestling was the right decision.
Angelica went on to wrestle both years at Nashua Catholic, win a state middle school championship, wrestle at Nashua High School South, take third-place in a national girls’ tournament, and receive a scholarship at Lindenwood University in St. Joseph, MO, for her wrestling prowess.
Miss Levesque is now the head wrestling coach at Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High School, the same place her wrestling career began. Nashua Catholic’s wrestling squad is technically co-ed; it is still a male dominated sport.
Until this year, that is. When sign-up sheets went out this past fall, Coach Levesque was both pleased and surprised to see a girl’s name among those interested in joining the wrestling team. Evangaline Rockwell, a 7th grade student at Nashua Catholic, was the first girl to sign up since Coach Levesque joined the team in 2006.
On the first day of practice, the boys on the team were taken aback to see a girl walk in to practice, but they soon came to accept her as part of the team. What started as hesitation from her fellow teammates when practicing against Evangeline, soon turned into respect as she honed her skills and learned the intricacies of the sport. Coach Levesque added that other teams have also been supportive, and the only challenge they face with having a female on the team is the need to have a separate locker room and weigh-in room. Evangaline was not the only girl in the Tri-County League who wrestled; other teams had female wrestlers, and Evangaline competed against both boys and girls in a similar weight class.
Having Miss Levesque as a coach and mentor made the decision to join what is traditionally a male sport more reachable. While many opponents would first be a bit surprised to shake hands with a girl on the mat, once the match began it became a question of skill rather than gender. Evangaline said the best advice she received from Coach Levesque was “There is no gender in wrestling, only wrestlers.”
While still new to the sport, Evangeline feels that she will continue to wrestle next year and possibly into high school and college. She smiles when she talks about sharing the news of joining the team with her friends. She adds, “They were surprised, but most thought it was pretty cool.”
Evangeline, a Nashua native, feels that participating in the sport made her tougher both physically and mentally. She continues, “The pre-wrestling me was not as tough as the post-wrestling version. Things that would have upset me in the past, I now can just shrug off.” Her advice to other girls interested in wrestling or participating in other things a bit out of the norm is to “try it and not to be afraid because you just might find you love it.”
Coach Levesque hopes that Evangaline and other girls will continue to participate in the sport that she loves and has helped her become the driven, successful woman she is today.
About Nashua Catholic:
Nashua Catholic offers 7th and 8th graders a rigorous, Catholic-based curriculum, a commitment to service, championship athletics, student leadership, and extracurricular opportunities that range from drama to chess, Matchcounts to writing, skiing to Minecraft. We offer leveled classes and an expanded S.T.E.A.M. program. We are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. We are now offering busing from surrounding towns.
A vibrant and exciting Christ-centered school, Nashua Catholic is now accepting applications for the 2016-2017 school year and serves communities in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. Nashua Catholic will hold an Open House on Thursday, April 14, 2016.