Amaya McLaren represents women’s wrestling community by competing outside of Marian

By MalloryConnealy

Women’s wrestling was officially sanctioned as an Olympic sport in 2004. It was available to female high school students in some states starting in 2011. It was introduced to Marian athletics one year ago, in the winter of 2021 as an official NSAA sanctioned sport.

Amaya McLaren ’25 poses with her medal at the national competition. She was blessed to have a support system at the competition. Photo courtesy of McLaren.

The sport gained the interest and attention of several Marian students, creating the first ever Crusader wrestling team. The team this year is made up of 16 students coached by weights and conditioning trainer Ms. Lauren Barefoot.

Amaya McLaren is a sophomore this year and is looking forward to participating in her first ever Marian wrestling season. “I am most looking forward to getting to know the team, since I am new this year and don’t know the girls super well yet,” McLaren said. Due to NSAA transfer rules, McLaren cannot compete as a varsity wrestler until Jan. 13. There is a 90 day waiting period for transfer students partaking in athletic programs.

McLaren began wrestling just last year at Millard West, making this her second year of being a competitive wrestler. She has a strict and intense weekly training schedule with her club team and now she is shifting into her high school season. “Wrestling takes up a lot of time, I practice six times a week which makes my schedule really busy,” McLaren said.

She has already encountered a tremendous amount of success in her early career. A couple of months ago, McLaren received an invitation to nationals for women’s wrestling. She traveled to Des Moines, Iowa for the competition and she ended up placing fourth overall. “It was really exciting but overwhelming, I was pretty nervous because I was competing against people who were the best of the best,” McLaren said.

She credits her positive experience to her teammates, coaches and parents who along the way have shown her an abundance of support. “My parents go to all of my tournaments and cheer me on while being on the side and they always try to show up to every event,” McLaren said.

In an extremely male-dominated sport, it can be difficult for young women to gain the confidence to participate in wrestling, but for McLaren, wrestling has offered her the opportunity to explore her potential and learn some very vital life lessons.

“Wrestling has helped me get through things that are hard. Before I started, I was used to giving up when things didn’t go my way but I learned that giving up doesn’t really get you anywhere and so you have to keep working hard and pushing forward,” McLaren said. She learned how to persevere and stay determined even when things get tough.

The life lessons can be applied to any part of her life and McLaren is thankful that wrestling has helped her find a new passion that she hopes to continue through the collegiate level and use her experiences as a tool for the rest of her life.

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