Coach resigns after a Catholic high school refuses to allow a girl to wrestle

While wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the Olympic games, women’s wrestling first became an Olympic sport in 2004.

But considering how prominent wrestling is in the US – it’s a big surprise to find out there are still high schools that don’t allow girls to wrestle.

One such case recently attracted a lot of attention. Coach Michael Sprague of St. John’s wrestling program had a female student interested in joining the team. He didn’t think much of it then due to the fact that Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schools and plenty of the Cadets’ nonconference opponents have girls competing.

But he was quickly refuted when the school administration stepped in. Athletic director informed him that the school president would not allow it. As per Washington Post:

“According to notes that Sprague took from that October meeting with President Jeffrey Mancabelli and Athletic Director Dennis Hart, the administrators told the coach that coed participation would cause potential issues with other sports. They also brought up a viewpoint from a school board member that it could hurt the school’s ability to recruit “alpha males.”

Sprague subsequently quit – due to the school’s resistance to change.

“I told the AD that if the rule didn’t change, this was going to be my last year coaching,” said Sprague, 25. “It’s against my core values.”

Athletic Director Dennis Hart issued a statement saying:
“Decisions about the composition of teams, including issues like team size, gender, class-year eligibility, etc. are made at the level of the Athletic Director,” the statement said. “For obvious reasons, they are not made by individual coaches.”

“Wrestling is a community,” Sprague said about his decision. “The sport has given me so much that I feel like this is something that I should try to do to help so that other people — especially the people that wanted to join and couldn’t — could get those same positive experiences and lessons out of it.”