By Elizabeth Cayouette-Gluckman
This is not the traditional path for most Salem High girls, but senior Wally Martinez has paved the way for girls in traditionally male sports since freshman year, when she joined the football team.
When asked why she chose to come out for wrestling Martinez explains that it was not much of a choice in her case.“The football coach sat me down and was like, ‘You’re wrestling’,” she explains. “I was already on the roster, but I really liked it, and I have no regrets”.
Senior Amina Babic, a transfer to Salem High from Lynn Classical, says with a grin that she joined her senior year, after three years of doing winter track “because Wally made me,” though is quick to add that she “was afraid to (join) but with the support of Wally being the
other female wrestler I decided to.”
These young women both come off as confident and charismatic, as well as extremely athletic. Though participating in a male dominated sport seems daunting to many female athletes, Martinez and Babic have both embraced the challenge.
Martinez notes that “the boys have an advantage just because of biology” but she relishes the challenge the sport gives her, and enjoys being treated “exactly the same as any of the guys.”
She asserts that “we joined because we wanted to be part of the team” and says they were not looking for any sort of special treatment.
“Yeah” adds Babic “I feel like they’re my brothers”.
These girls have worked their way through a season full of challenges. On a team of 10 there is no room for slacking off, and the girls have muscled through brutal workouts, limping through school the next day. Babic proudly shows off her bruises, and offers to demonstrate her favorite move, the cross face.
When asked if there were any particularly noteworthy wins Wally immediately pipes up.
“The win against that Saugus girl is in the books” she declares.
“Yeah, she really destroyed her,” agrees Babic.
The bond between these two athletes is obvious, as they tag team their answers off each other, finishing sentences and making sure the other remembers the peaks of her season. Though they entered the season already friends, it is clear that the sport has strengthened their bond.
As the interview winds down Wally brings up how sad she is that the season has ended.
“I’m really going to miss it” she admits “Amina,can we slay at banquet?”
“Absolutely!” Babic exclaims. “Can we cry at banquet?” she adds.
These girls are full of pride for their sport, and it is this pride that is notable throughout Salem High’s sports teams. They come ready to work hard every day, so that they can represent their school and show the community that Salem High is level 1 in the classroom and on the wrestling mat.