Anannya Das wrestles at right. Photo by Daley Connolly.
Wrestling is a relatively new sport at Athens Academy. Although wrestling doesn’t yet enjoy the same popularity that football, basketball, and baseball enjoy, the program has grown significantly in the last few years. Until now, only boys chose to wrestle. But this season, Athens Academy gained its first female wrestler: senior Anannya Das. An avid martial artist, Anannya holds a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and handles dangerous weapons on a regular basis. This winter, she decided to increase her combat sport mastery by learning to wrestle. Here is what Anannya has to say about her experience as Athens Academy’s first female wrestler.
Kavya Menke: Why did you decide to start wrestling?
Anannya Das: Tae Kwon Do is cool and all, but it gets a little boring, so I started doing Krav Maga [an Israeli self-defense method]. Krav is fun because it’s just street fighting, but then I was like, let’s try something different, so I went to wrestling. I’m just trying to increase my combat sport mastery.
Kavya: How does wrestling compare to other sports that you’ve done in the past?
Anannya: It’s very different, it’s a lot more endurance. There’s a lot more contact.
Kavya: Describe a typical practice. What kinds of workouts do you do? Anannya: The first ten minutes [we] run, then we have twenty minutes of warm-ups, which [include] duck walks, shots, push duck walks, cartwheels, backflips, handstands, stand-up-and-go’s, bear crawls, and swivel bear crawls. Then we stretch for like five seconds and then we go on. The clock starts at 99 minutes; we often start actual practice at around 60 minutes.
Kavya: How do wrestling matches work?
Anannya: I don’t really know that for sure because I’ve only been to one, but you go to a tournament, they weigh you in, they check for fungus because, you know, it’s a good thing to do, then you wait and warm up. They call your name and you go up and then you wrestle.
Kavya: What’s it like being ACAD’s first female wrestler?
Anannya: It’s fun. I love “trendsetting” and being a “pioneer.” There are no other girls on the team, but it’s still pretty fun, everyone there is really nice.
Kavya: Would you like to see a league at ACAD for girls who wrestle?
Anannya: That would be cool, but we also have to make sure we’re with the dudes so we can always beat them up a little bit.
Kavya: How did your male teammates react to you being on the team?
Anannya: There was no reaction, no one cared. They were like, “OK…cool.”
Kavya: Have you ever been injured during wrestling? Have you injured others?
Anannya: Oh, 100 percent. I was trying to go in for a shot, and I ended up landing my knee on someone’s foot really hard, breaking their foot. But they’re okay now. Then, my knees always hurt, I couldn’t feel my neck the other day, and I think my foot might be broken right now. If there is no pain, you’re not doing it right, you know? No pain, no gain.
Kavya: What would you say to other girls out there thinking about trying wrestling?
Anannya: Just do it! I’d say it’s pretty fun, it’s always great to, you know, throw people around. If you’re a girl, go for it.