It would be quite impressive for any high school student to have already been a member of two state champion wrestling teams and ranked No. 6 in their state during the winter of their junior year. Yet those striking accomplishments hardly tell the story of Danielle Coughlin of North Andover High School in Massachusetts.
This young lady has been wrestling against male competition -- and excelling -- for years. Opening her junior campaign with a 9-1 record in the 106-pound division, Coughlin earned the distinction of being dubbed "King Of The Ring" in her weight class by the local Eagle-Tribune. If she keeps up this level of performance they might need to think about amending the title of that honor. Coughlin, who began wrestling in fifth grade, is treated like one of the guys when she's on the mat.
Andover coach Carl Cincotta says Coughlin isn't the first female wrestler who has been on the team, adding that he's open to more girls joining the squad. "As long as they come in and work as hard as the boys and it's not a distraction, it's not an issue," Cincotta told the Herald. "We treat her exactly the same, there's no difference, and that's why she does so well."
Coughlin has not only competed with boys, but she's thrived against them. In December, she won her first tournament, pinning all three of her male opponents in the process. Coughlin isn't the only notable female athlete garnering attention for her success alongside her male peers in high school sports. Monique Howard from Pershing high school in Detroit lined up at right tackle this autumn for the Doughboys, helping lead the team to the state playoffs. And Brianna Mat from Pinckney Community High School was named homecoming queen during halftime of a game in which she booted the game-winning field goal.
With so many girls enjoying success among the boys, Christopher Vito of the Deleware County Daily Times actually feels that students, coaches and the media should stop acting so surprised. "Enough is enough. How many times do we have to laud a female athlete playing a man's sport?" he wrote on Thursday. "Is it being done simply out of shock value? When can these female athletes be treated just like everyone else?"