By Brenda De La Cruz
East Los Angeles College will have its own women’s wrestling team.
Beginning in spring semester, women’s wrestling will be an official sport on campus.
Women have been allowed to join the men’s wrestling team since 2000 as club members but not as competing teammates.
Despite having women show continuous interest in the sport, it simply has not come to fruition.
One to two women each year join the men’s team as club members, including six to eight who joined three years ago.
After more than 20 years, wrestling is now an official women’s sport at ELAC.
Wrestling coach Miguel Soto credits ELAC’s athletic director Bobby Godinez with seeing the value in making the women’s team official.
“It’s the number one growing sport in high schools for the past ten years. We have all these girls graduating and loving the sport of wrestling. My A.D. (athletic director) is the one to have the discussion with the Dean of Athletics, the President and the Vice President and got them to see the value in wrestling for women,” Soto said.
Being recognized as an official ELAC sport, the team will now be funded.
The coaches will need to develop a budget for approval.
As of right now, 12 women plan to join the team in addition to possible recruits.
The ultimate goal is to have 25 women wrestlers by this summer.
Soto and assistant coach Jorge Guerrero believe wrestling is beneficial in general.
They believe it helps students grow as athletes and individuals through competition and being a part of a team and picking yourself up after you fall.
The current women wrestlers at ELAC are motivated knowing they are now able to compete for state championships.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to stay local as many programs that offer women wrestling are out of state. Some families in this area don’t have the economic status to send their kids off to follow wrestling. [Here] they can continue growing as a wrestler and get two years of free tuition before they transfer,” Guerrero said.
Prospective wrestlers will train in tumbling, gymnastics and learning the fall on the mat to avoid getting hurt.
Soto said his aim is to help athletes with little to no experience develop their talent. This is specifically important for beginner high school athletes.
Practices during the off-season are held two days a week for two hours. During the active season it is Monday through Friday for two hours a day.
The men’s team will compete in the fall, while the women’s team will compete in the spring.
While there are no tryouts, those interested in joining should email Soto at SOTOM2@ELAC.EDU or at 562-972-0607.
Editors note: Photos for this story can be found on elaccampusnewscom.