Iren Macri, ‘24, founded the Women’s Wrestling Club during the fall 2021 semester to provide a space where women can empower one another by showcasing their strength.
“When you wrestle, you can learn how to use your body, and use your own weight to be more in control,” Macri said. “You feel safer, and you will realize that you can do more than you thought.”
Macri has a familial background in wrestling, since both of her brothers wrestle, and said she wanted to start a club at Lehigh so that she could learn how to play the sport.
The club consists of women with varying levels of experience who practice under the direction of certified wrestling coach Kerry MacCoy. Meetings take place on Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Caruso Complex.
“Wrestling could seem scary, and it’s been a male-dominated sport but we have created a space where just girls practice,” Macri said. “Even if you have very little experience, it doesn’t have to be something scary, you are just here to learn how to wrestle … We are trying to break the idea that it has to be high commitment and high intensity and high skill sport.”
Macri also thought the club would be a good idea because of how big of a sport wrestling is on Lehigh’s campus.
Macri said founding the club came with some challenges. She first had the idea to start a women’s wrestling club during her freshman year, however, Lehigh wasn’t taking club proposals due to COVID-19. It wasn’t until last fall semester that Macri was able to officially give her pitch.
As part of the proposal, Macri said she needed to build the executive board, find at least 10 interested members and because of the high risk of caution that comes with wrestling they had to find someone to coach the team. Next, Macri said she needed to find when and where they would practice.
The process required a lot of open communication between the coach, Lehigh administration and club members, she said.
Matt Kutz, assistant director of club sports, said he considers the founding of the Women’s Wrestling Club a great accomplishment, especially considering many club sports were not able to hold regular practices and competitions because of the pandemic.
Kutz said student leadership is imperative to the success of a club, and he considers the Women’s Wrestling Club to be in good hands with its executive members. He said he is excited to see it grow.
“As a new competitive club sport, it is always an uphill battle to recruit, retain, and keep members interested in the club. They did a pretty good job with that,” Kutz said. “The ability to adapt to changes is the biggest improvement I have seen from the clubs this year.”
Jane Josephson, director of club, intramural, and recreational sports, said the Women’s Wrestling Club embodies many of the ideals outlined by the Campus Athletics mission, such as promoting the value of fitness skills, teamwork and sportsmanship.
“We encourage ideas from our students and try to offer opportunities for skill development in physical activities that can be valued and practiced over a lifetime,” Josephson said.
Macri said she hopes to expand their membership, increase the frequency of their practices and compete in intermediate-level tournaments in the future.