Panorama (Panorama City, Calif.)
has formed the first all-girls wrestling team in the history of the Los Angeles United School District, according to the Los Angeles Daily News
. The team consists of 21 athletes, most of them Latinas and most from low-income families, according to 30-year-old coach Abby Herrera.
Herrera told the newspaper, "I'm blessed. These girls work hard. For me, this is my dream job. This is such a release for them. It's the best place to feel they can let out their aggression. A lot of them don't want to be at home. Some of their home situations aren't that great, so at times this feels more like family for them."
Herrera works in campus security and does not get paid for her coaching duties.
The girls, who gradually are winning over their parents' support, already are giving each other playful nicknames. One is "Hippo" and doesn't mind the moniker. Another is "Cauli," because she's afraid of getting cauliflower ear, a somewhat-common condition that wrestlers can develop.
They are not allowed to wear makeup during practice sessions or matches because it smears on the mats. They also have to share the boys' uniforms because the money is not yet there to purchase their own uniforms.