Wrestling brings father and daughter closer together
MEXICO - It's a loud and rough sport, but at least now, it's a level playing field.
The Missouri Folk Wrestling Tournament in Missouri was open to female wrestlers up until 12th grade.
"The numbers in Missouri are phenomenal," Don Schreimann, Women's Director for Missouri USA Wrestling said. "I'm seeing the dandelions start to blossom."
He said the numbers are there in the high school level, but said the numbers in the elementary and upper elementary levels are growing.
One of the girls competing Saturday in Mexico was Kaylee Gross, who is part of the G-Force team. The team's coach is Vonn Gross, Kaylee's father, who said it is good to finally see girls wrestling girls.
"I've watched my daughter wrestle nothing but boys," he said. "I finally introduced her to wrestling girls and it's phenomenal."
Vonn said seeing the transformation of some girls as soon as they hit the mat is very cool for him.
But, Vonn does not just sit back and watch and his daughter and the other wrestler grapple. He is passionate, and pretty much everyone in the gym can hear him as he motivates his daughter and the other girls he coaches. He paces back and forth, crouches and the yelling never stops. Not everyone, however, is a fan of his style.
"I've got a lot of parents that are kind of, eh about it, but once they get out there and see what's going on, they love it," he said.
His hat gets the brunt of it. Vonn clenches it with his hands, grips it tightly and occasionally throws it on the ground.
Vonn said his loud style is just proof of how much he cares about the sport and the girls he coaches. He said female wrestling is growing in the state and the little league program is having success.
"I, by no means want girls to stop wrestling boy tournaments," he said. "It makes them tough. It makes them strong."
He said wrestling teaches girls how to defend themselves, gives them self-confidence, self-discipline and the sense that they can take care of themselves.
Gross' style works, since his daughter, Kaylee, was state champion this year.