Girls to women, keeping it real

Girls to women, keeping it real

Cassy Herkelman, Iowa High School wrestler

Joel Northrup, a talented young high school male wrestler forfeited his match in Iowa’s state championship tournament rather than face his female opponent, Cassy Herkelman, one of two young women who met the qualification criteria to participate in the tournament, the first young women to do so in the state’s history.  In a written statement quoted in an article from, Northrup noted that “as a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner,” further stating, “It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa.”   A more in depth account in the Des Moines Register notes that Northrup who fights for Linn-Mar High School had declined to fight Herkelman in a match on January 13, 2011, however, given that it was not a state tournament, the team put in a substitute to fight Herkelman.  Articles can be found here and here.

All right, so much for the facts, that include statements from the Herkelman’s father  saying that it “takes a lot of guts,” to follow religious convictions.  From where I sit, admittedly comfortably ensconced in my Brooklyn, NY living room — the entire episode is an outrage.

What, the first young woman to qualify in a state championship tournament gets the win ’cause her opponent thinks “combat” with a girl is inappropriate!  Yes, Cassy, you get the win, the first win for a “girl,” but  there’s also the tiny asterisk forever associated with that honor — won by forfeit.

Where are we living???  What year is this???  I’m sorry but as mother and the mother of A GIRL, I find this beyond the pale.  Forfeit??? I don’t care how talented Joel Northrup is or the depth of his convictions, the sport of high school wrestling in the state of Iowa is open to qualified boys AND girls and if that is too much for him, he SHOULDN’T PARTICIPATE at all.  That his coaches and his school continue to enable this behavior because he’s got some talent in the ring is no less outrageous.    What’s the message to the young women in that school and in the community at large — oh, it’s okay to dis’ girls in the name of some “holier than thou” convictions about a women’s place in the world?

Any if you read the news and the blogs on this story (just google the story under “google news”) the contortions to be all PC are funny if it weren’t really, really sad.  And let me repeat this is sad, a very sad statement on where we are when a young woman who has trained her heart out and fought hard to earn her place at the state level has to stand alone in the ring to the cheers and jeers of a crowd because her opponent can’t face her.  Give me a break.

4 thoughts on “Girls to women, keeping it real

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Girls to women, keeping it real « Girlboxing --

  2. ybsteam

    Quite a few elements to this suituation, if this was a matter of faith on his part, it should be respected, but if he knew she was in the contest and their was a chance of meeting her to pull out was wrong,
    To say ” this sport can get violent” what does he mean, im sure the young lady knows the score and was ready to give as good as she got.
    maybe this just came down to a fear of losing to a girl, i understand your fustration but i don’t thnik it takes any gloss off her achivement,
    The plain fact is we still have a way to go befor Boys will feel ok about fighting girls, be it Wrestling, Boxing or anyother fighting art, im not saying it’s right, just that it’s far from black or white.

  3. girlboxing Post author

    Thanks so much for your comments — and your right it’s not all that clear-cut, and goodness knows where talking about 16 year olds still, if the family has an issue with the sport being coeducational then take it up with the legislature, not as one’s opponent is walking into the ring. The boy knew he’d drawn her a day or to before so to do it that way was and to complain about “having to be put in that position,” is unfair to the young women who worked so hard to get their and deserved their chance to compete. Thanks again!

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