My 12-year-old son, Danny, started seventh grade this fall. That meant meant he was old enough to try out for a team sport at his school, Harris Road Middle.
He chose wrestling, a sport neither of us knew much about. But I said yes.
The rigorous daily practices began. During the first week my son came home with lots of sore muscles. As time went on, however, his soreness decreased while his love and knowledge of the game grew.
Going to the matches, as a mom of one of the players, was an adjustment for me. It’s not easy watching your child getting grabbed and thrown around. At times I wanted to get out there and yell at my son’s opponent to leave him alone. Fortunately, for the team’s sake, and especially my son’s dignity, I never succumbed to that desire.
But then when I saw my child (or one of his teammates) regain his strength and quickly pin his opponent, I was amazed and full of pride. Surprisingly, I am really learning to love this sport.
It was at these matches I learned of a particular teammate who really caught my eye. Her name is Caelyn Davis, and she is breaking more barriers then she realizes.
Before the matches, she is a cute, petite middle-schooler with a very pretty face and long blond hair. But come wrestling time, her hair is hidden in a hair cap, her headgear is on, and she is warmed up and ready to pin anybody who stands in her way.
So far I have seen her wrestling only against boys.
She comes from a family of wrestlers. Caelyn’s father, James “Ryan” Davis, explained how her wrestling career started.
“I signed the boys up for Team Cabarrus, and we started attending tournaments,” he said. “There was a little girl named Heaven that moved in. Caelyn asked if she could wrestle like Heaven, and I told her no.
“So Caelyn would stand on the side to cheer and watch. About halfway through the season, she begged me to start wrestling. So I let her practice. A couple of weeks went by, and she started to beg to wrestle in a tournament like her friend Heaven.”
“I was really worried about my daughter, who has asthma, wrestling boys. So I basically gave in and let her wrestle in her first tournament with about two weeks left in the season. Caelyn put on a show, going 3-1 and winning in the consolation finals in triple overtime. The whole gym was going crazy.”
Caelyn and Heaven recently won gold medals at the War of the Roses’ Girl’s Southeast Championships in Atlanta.
Harris Road head coach Zack Dutch said he personally didn’t feel any different about a girl trying out for the team.
“I have not wrestled a girl in my career, but I have coached a few of my kids against girls. You have to have the same mindset as if you were wrestling a boy,” he said. “When they step on the mat, they are accepting the challenge and saying that they are ready to beat you in every aspect of the sport. I think Caelyn has that mindset.”
Caelyn and her brother Conor are both stars on the Harris Road wrestling team and are the only ones still undefeated.
“She is a vital part to our team, and she has a very bright future if she stays on this path,” Dutch said. “Behind every successful wrestler are a group of drill partners and teammates. They are the ones that prepare you for battle. Caelyn is truly a great talent and character.”
Today, along with her three brothers, Cade, Conor and Cooper, Caelyn spends most of her time entering wrestling tournaments and winning medals. Caelyn has won quite a few silver and bronze medals against the boys but not a gold one … yet.