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Senior Profile: Wrestling against faulty perceptions
Telling most high school wrestlers that they wrestle like a girl is a quick way to find yourself on the receiving end of a takedown, but Los Molinos' C.C. Wabs will take it as a compliment — because she is one.
Candace "C.C." Wabs is a three-sport athlete for the Bulldogs — with softball and volleyball her other sports — but it is when she steps onto the wrestling mats that she really stands out, as she is one of the few girls who wrestle in the Northern Section.
Not only does she wrestle 152's for Los Molinos, but she has also grappled with people's pre-conceived and sometimes unfair notions of what it's like to be a female wrestler.
"Some (male) wrestlers are skittish, and one even forfeited instead of wrestling me," Wabs explained. "It wasn't for religious reasons; his parents told my coach they didn't want their son to possibly lose to a girl."
Wabs said when she takes the mat it is not as a "female wrestler," but as a wrestler who happens to be female. "There are some who don't really change the way they wrestle," she said of her opponents, "I'm appreciated as a wrestler."
She is also a wrestler who has recorded four pins, although she has no idea of where her won-loss record stands.
Her interest in the sport is familial. "My brother-in-law wrestled, and he got my little brother into it. When coach (Jim Maxwell) asked if I could wrestle, my mom was reluctant at first but eventually gave in," Wabs said.
The reactions she gets from people when she tells them she wrestles vary, but she laughed, "It's not something they hear a girl say. Some think I'm the stats girl. I like being unique."
While she's inadvertently learned a few tough lessons about some people's views of female wrestlers, she's also learned some valuable lessons she'll be able to take with her when high school and wrestling are behind her.
"I've learned to have a lot of discipline," she said of her in-season weight management that includes lots of water, no soda and lots of healthy food. And of course, there is the intense conditioning work that is a vital part of the sport.
"You have to put yourself into it, and you need to do things wholeheartedly," explained the 17-year-old. "I've learned how to stay disciplined and work around other people."
She was a defensive specialist for the Bulldogs' volleyball team, and on the softball diamond has played every position but pitcher, but wrestling provides her the opportunity to switch from defense to offense in a matter of seconds.
The ability to stay in control while being offensive is one of the parts of being a female wrestler Wabs feels gives her an edge.
"My coaches said a lot of the best wrestlers are females," she said, elaborating, "Guys tend to be aggressive, and get mad when they lose, women don't take it as hard." It is because females may not have the brute strength of their male opponents that they need to rely more on their technical proficiency.
While she's all business when wrestling, Wabs is able to leave it all on the mat when the match is over.
"I'm usually very outgoing; I like to have a lot of fun and enjoy being around my friends and family," she said.
She's sure to face some tough moments and situations in life as we all do, but with the unique experience she has gained as a wrestler, Wabs should be able to take them down and put them on their backs.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.