Female Wrestlers Break Barriers at SHS

Amelia Stone, News Editor

CT Insider listed Stamford High School senior and long-time wrestler Samantha Yap as a wrestler to watch in an article about last year’s Girl’s Wrestling State Finals. It’s no surprise; Yap has been a trailblazer at SHS and across the state, becoming the first female wrestling captain in Stamford High School history last year after winning the Connecticut State Championship in 2020. 

And just as CT Insider predicted, Yap was definitely the wrestler to watch at last year’s finals, placing 4th in FCIAC and defending her title for a second year in a row before going on to represent the state as a member of the Connecticut Women’s National Wrestling Team at the Girls’ High School Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota.

Now, Yap is joined by juniors Jasmine Whitfield and Frank Bear, and has already led the team to success this year, setting a precedent that has changed the future of the program here at Stamford High. 

Whitfield said she would never have started wrestling last year if it wasn’t for Yap. “I didn’t even know we had a team,” Whitfield said. “If it wasn’t for Sam and I knowing each other and bringing friends from cross country, I would not have even considered wrestling.” 

After just one day of trying indoor track she was unenthused, pivoting to the other sport of her cross country teammate Yap: wrestling. Inspired by Yap, Jasmine became just the second female captain in school history. Whitfield said, “Sam is my role model at every practice and I look to her for guidance and support.”

But despite the successes of Yap and Whitfield and the fact that there are two female wrestling captains at SHS this year, the lack of girls involved in the sport at Stamford High and in the whole state has proven to be a challenge.

“There are still many teams who don’t have any girls and I know for a fact that the boys see me and think less of me because I am a girl,” Whitfield said. She went on to explain that it’s not just the boys on the teams she competes against, but even the boys here at Stamford High. 

“Boys at school think it’s crazy or a joke when a girl says that she wrestles,” Whitfield said. “There is less respect all around.” But Whitfield doesn’t let this stop her. After being named captain this year, she has already dominated at matches, helping to lead her team to victory in the first match of the season against New Canaan. 

When talking about the future of girls’ wrestling, Yap said, “female wrestling is growing fast in the state of CT, and my name – along with many other amazing female athletes – is becoming very well known. Nobody ever wants to lose, especially to a girl, but girls are simply dominating.” 

Whitfield had a similar outlook, saying, “The future of Stamford High wrestling is looking really good thanks to our past captain. All [the] other schools have to watch out because we are up and coming and they don’t know what’s going to hit them.” 

Luckily for her, the team this year has the record to back up these claims. Already, Stamford High wrestling has started off with a bang, defeating division rivals New Canaan in their first match of the season December 21 and the girls on the team have prepared for the “Queen of the Mat Tournament” January 29 at Foran High School. Stamford High School Athletic Director Chris Passamano explained that he is so proud that SHS will be sending four girls this year. In fact, Passamano is proud of all that Stamford Girl’s Wrestling has accomplished so far. 

“I love the fact that we have this program that is growing like this… I would love to get to the point where we have a designated women’s team ” said Passamano when talking of the future of the program. “We have five girls on the wrestling team… I don’t know if anyone else in the FCIAC does.”

Passamano also had some words of warning for Stamford’s FCIAC competitors, and he said them plain and simple:  “Yeah, there’s a freight train coming for them; it’s called Jasmine and Samantha.”