Black isn’t your average wrestler
Baldwin High School has two graduates who are athletes at Neosho County Community College in Chanute. Andy Breedlove (class of 2001) wrestles for the Panthers. Also there is Emily Black (class of '00). Black started out on a tennis scholarship and then made an athletic change that was very unexpected and also very unique.
While Black was competing in tennis, NCCC canceled the women's tennis program due to funding, leaving Black without a scholarship. To make up for the loss, NCCC offered her a golf scholarship.
"After a few embarrassing golf tournaments, I decided golf was not my sport and would never be my sport," Black said.
So with some thought and reconsideration, Black made a move that, today, is a very talked about sport for women.
"Since most of my guy friends were wrestlers, I was convinced to join the women's wrestling program," Black said. "I showed up for conditioning and that was the beginning of my wrestling career."
Women's wrestling is growing nationwide and the men are going to have to move over and share the spotlight with the girls, because it doesn't look like it's going to fade anytime soon.
"At first the guys teased us and would yell things at us as we ran. Now some of them stay after their practice to work with us," said Black, who competes at 136 pounds for the Panthers.
And the NCCC men know what they are doing. The Panthers were the 2000 national champions.
The womens team is in its first year of existence at Neosho County CC. There are now approximately 15 colleges in the United States offering the sport. The team has already traveled to Arizona, Las Vegas and Minnesota for competitions. Black placed second at a tournament at the University of Minnesota-Morris.
The girls are different than the guys as far as wrestling technique, but other than that they are very similar as far as difficulty and talent.
"We can't practice together because the guys are wrestling folkstyle and the girls are wrestling freestyle. It is too difficult to coach two different styles of wrestling at the same time," Black said.
"The coaches treat the women the same as the guys same rules, same consequences. The mens and womens wrestling team is like a big family, we take care of and support each other. We have developed a strong bond," Black said.
Competition for both men and womens wrestling has already begun but they are far from finished and have many more meets to come. Black will be next competing on Jan. 26, in Marshall, Mo.
Right now womens wrestling is a big topic not only at the college level, but also for the International Olympic Committee. On Sept. 19 the committee gave womens wrestling its approval to be added into the official program of the 2004 Olympics.
When asked how she felt about the womens wrestling being approved for the 2004 Olympics, she replied "YOU GO GIRL!"