Johnstone is trailblazer as female wrestler


Aleah Watkins, Chelsea Buzz Reporter

As a whole, wrestling has always been considered a male dominated sport. However, recently the population of female wrestlers has begun to grow. This, of course, includes Shelby County.

At the moment, the Chelsea Middle School wrestling team has three female wrestlers, but the Chelsea High team only has one. Her name is Haley Johnstone.

Haley is a freshman at Chelsea High who decided she wanted to try out wrestling. In a recent interview, she told us why she decided to participate in the changing of the sport. 

“I started wrestling because I’ve tried just about every other sport,” Johnstone said. “I knew a lot of the wrestling coaches and members through my older brother. I felt comfortable around them and thought it would be a good opportunity for me.”

Haley has experienced a few difficulties since beginning wrestling.

“At first I was definitely an outsider, no one really talked to me and they didn’t believe in me much,” Johnstone said. “It kind of got better once workouts started and I surpassed their expectations, they expected me to be weak. But they started to respect me more and talk to me. That definitely improved things for me. Wrestling isn’t much fun when no one talks to you.”

Johnstone talked about one particular incident she remembers.

“The first time that we did our auxiliary workout, we had to do buddy carries (one person carries the other on their back). The coach put me with the second lightest guy on the team,” she said. “When it was his turn to get on my back, I fell. I scraped up my knees and hands really badly. All of the guys told me to go to the nurse or sit down, but being the stubborn person I am, I did the entire workout with my injuries.” 

This incident demonstrates the difficulty of being a female wrestler and the challenges Haley faced when she decided to do this. She showed perseverance and bravery in her decision to begin wrestling.

“When I tell people that I am a female wrestler, they think I’m joking,” Johnstone said. “Most people are supportive and say ‘good for you.’ But some girls have been odd about it and consider it not very ladylike. But generally I haven’t gotten many bad responses or overreactions about it.”

Although she has been doing very well this season, Johnstone recently had an accident at practice and is currently on crutches. She doesn’t expect that to keep her down long.

“I feel very confident in my ability to wrestle so far,” Johnstone said. “I intend to continue wrestling next season so I can learn more and continue to enjoy this sport.”