Cinnaminson Wrestling Makes History with the Addition of Two Female Wrestlers

For the first time in CHS history, the high school wrestling team has two females on the roster: sophomore Danielle Villanueva and freshman Dazire Dowell. 

This begs the question: what made them want to join? According to both Villanueva and Dowell, they said they decided to join because they enjoy it, no matter what others may say.

Villanueva said she has always been involved in some kind of martial arts, having tried jiu-jitsu when she was younger. “So I’ve always been into it and I just figured, why not?”

Dowell said she joined because she wanted to prove to others she could do it. “The main reason that stood out to me is because somebody told me that I could not do it,” Dowell said.

Coach Robert Murray expressed his excitement and delight in having Villanueva and Dowell join the team. 

“I think it’s definitely improved the team,” Murray said. “I think it’s been pretty cool with the girls joining. Cinnaminson traditionally has not had female wrestlers, so the two of them making the commitment to come out and be a part of it has been really cool for us.”

Although the adjustment seems scary, Villaneuva affirms that the environment during wrestling season is calm and welcoming. 

 “When I first got there it was kind of like ‘oh you’re doing this, that’s so cool,’” Villanueva said. 

Though breaking barriers does come with some difficulties. Dowell describes some unfair treatment from opponents of other teams.

“Some boys will not wrestle you because you are a female,” Dowell said. “If you beat them, they cannot handle that.”

However, both girls are defying odds by continuing to wrestle, despite what some people might say. Coach Murray said he thinks that just making the effort to step forward will encourage others to follow their paths.

“Yeah, I think so,” Murray said. “It really just took one or two to step up and put their foot forward. I think now with them two being the initial pioneers of the program, it should encourage more girls to come in.” 

Dowell and Villanueva are not without their recognition, as they understand what great achievement this is, not just for the team, but for Cinnaminson’s history books. 

“It feels really good actually. I didn’t really know if I was going to stick with it and then realizing, you know she did that, it feels good,” Villanueva said.

Dowell echoed Villanueva’s sentiments.

“…it feels good to make a change and to set a point,” Dowell said.

As more females make the choice to participate in wrestling, hopefully the stigma behind it will lessen. Ultimately, Dowell and Villanueva’s pivotal acts are effectively breaking down barriers and stereotypes, and thus, continuing to make a positive change for the community. 

The team lost its most recent match against Wall but will seek redemption against Bordentown during tomorrow’s match.