Kimber had not developed a formal proposal yet, but he wanted the board to know that one was headed its way. He said that he’s had between 7 and 15 girls in his wrestling program each of the last eleven seasons – girls who compete against boys during the regular season, but who don’t often get a fighting chance in the regional or state tournaments.
Kimber suggested that the state was in the position to demonstrate leadership in the issue.
“Alaska has a long history of female wrestlers. We were represented in the first Olympics by Tela O’Donnell.”
Tela O’Donnell is from Homer. She was one of four US women wrestlers to compete in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Two years later, Kimber was able to field a team of thirty when the United States Girls Wrestling Association held its state tournament in Sitka.
In news coverage at the time, the competitors’ attitude about their sport was pretty high. This is Jasmine Simein of Aniak, who was wrestling for Kimber’s Mt. Edgecumbe team.
“Some of the guys at school when I was little said I couldn’t do it. I can do it. The experience is awesome. I’ve learned a lot from wrestling. Builds character, I guess.”
But there was not universal support for separate girls teams or divisions in at the 2006 Sitka tournament. Leslie Thomas wrestled for Wasilla.
“I think it’s absurd that we should have an all girls team because then we don’t get the experience of the strength. Girls use technique while guys use strength, and it conditions us for both if we do both.”
Kimber told the ASAA board that he was not out to segregate wrestling. In fact, Alaska’s coed programs made the state’s female wrestlers that much more competitive in college.
“The reason they find Alaska’s female wrestlers attractive to recruit is because they wrestle against the boys. In Texas, they’re not allowed to compete against each other, and they’re not so well-recruited.”
Kimber submitted a three-page rationale to the board for its review. He said he did not expect action, even as soon as next year. All he hoped for, Kimber said, was timely action when he did submit a formal proposal, instead of “seeing it kicked around for a couple of years.”
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