Wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports for women and the Lady Devils Women’s Wrestling Club is leading the charge here at ASU.
The club was started last year by current president sophomore Emme Velasco, with the hope that women who wrestle can come to ASU without having to give up their sports careers.
There are only four schools with NCAA Division I varsity women's wrestling teams if an athlete is good enough to continue on at a D1 level. But if those schools are too expensive or the wrestling is too high level, there is often a lack of options.
Now, with opportunities like this club, schools that are more affordable or have an athlete's desired field of study can also offer women wrestlers the chance to continue competing.
When the club was just getting started last year, the goal was to "get some chances to compete, to bring some girls in, make a team, and be able to practice and work out together," Velasco said.
But this year, the goals are bigger.
"This year we really kind of honed in on some mission statements and some goals," she said. "(We hope) to not just grow women's wrestling opportunities at ASU, but also to just grow women's wrestling in Arizona for future generations."
The goals that the club has set can be accomplished with funding, but they only received $1,000 last year from the University for being a sports club. With more funding, the club can go to tournaments across the country to represent ASU and build a program that will hopefully impact future generations of girl wrestlers, according to Velasco.
Velasco said that just a few months ago, a budget was passed allowing the team to get more funding. Unfortunately, the club has still not received this money, and they are not sure when they will.
Currently, the team cannot afford to pay a coach. Velasco said they have a coach, but she is a volunteer and works two other jobs so she can only come in on her own time.
Through this adversity, the club is still creating a safe space for girls who are brand new to wrestling and also giving more opportunities for women with previous experience.
"In the club, we are all at different levels," freshman Jessica Mendez said. "No one is better or worse than anyone else, we are just at different levels."
The Lady Devils Women's Wrestling Club holds practice from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every day at the Sun Devil Fitness Center in Tempe.
Trinity Bouchal, a freshman in the club, said that a typical day at practice begins by warming up on the field, then going to the SDFC and starting with light drilling. The athletes then move onto faster-paced drilling, live situations, and then finishing with a workout circuit.
The club hopes to have a long-lasting effect at ASU, and on girls wrestling in general.
"I know we are working towards something bigger than ourselves, and something that we can leave at ASU that could impact girls wrestling for a long time to come," Bouchal said.
She enjoys "just being a part of a movement."
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.