Philadelphia girl fights to wrestle on boys high school team

Watch report from Action News
February 7, 2014 3:54:45 PM PST
One local female dreams about wrestling for her high school, and she is in the fight of her life. Before she even steps onto the mat, she must take on the Archdiocese.

Amanda Leve is not your average teenage girl.

"I was never a girlie girl," said Amanda Leve. "I was always into sports, a tomboy since I was probably four."

She is now 17, and an accomplished Jiu Jitsu fighter. In fact, she recently had her first match in a Men's Division and won.

She feels she can do anything? except wrestle for her high school.

The Archbishop Ryan junior was excited to join the school's new wrestling team this fall, hoping to earn a college scholarship, but was told that Archdiocesan high schools designate wrestling as a full contact sport open to boys only.

"The Archdiocese is basically punishing me for being a girl and going to high school all my life. They are saying it's inappropriate touching, which I don't see as relevant when you are fighting and trying to win," said Amanda.

She fought the ruling; even filed an online petition which brought over 16,000 signatures to no avail.

"It made me angry and frustrated because I know I can do it. I fight boys all the time in my Jiu Jitsu tournaments," she said.

The Archdiocese has decided to uphold the policy. In a statement released to Action News states the school athletic programs "serve to provide for intellectual growth and proper Catholic human formation. They say this involves a respect for the differences between females and males. To allow for co-educational participation in wrestling, which involves various levels and types of full body contact, does not meet this standard of respect."

And so Amanda, will keep fighting on the mat and through red tape to be able to wrestle her senior year.

"You have to keep pushing it and never give up on anything you want to do," said Amanda.

Read the full statement from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia:
"Last fall, representatives from Archbishop Ryan High School and the Office of Catholic Education met with a female student who asked permission to wrestle on the school's newly formed team. At that time, the current rule in Archdiocesan high schools that designates wrestling as a full contact sport open to boys only was clearly relayed. That rule is a reflection of our Catholic tradition that gender differences are important and play a key role in the development of dignified, mature Christian identity.

The student's family requested that the rule be reviewed and more consideration be given to her petition. This was done. The school provided all relevant information to the Office of Catholic Education. The matter was reviewed internally, then forwarded to the Archbishop. He discussed the matter with Catholic bishops from across the state.

The Archbishop has decided to uphold the policy as it stands. All school academic, athletic, social and community service programs serve to provide for intellectual growth and proper Catholic human formation. This involves a respect for the differences between females and males. To allow for co-educational participation in wrestling, which involves various levels and types of full body contact, does not meet this standard of respect.

At their spring 2014 meeting, the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania, will work to establish a common policy regarding contact sports."

Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Philadelphia


Load Comments