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Born to be a Rebel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Ever since they had to induce labor to make me arrive before I was ready, I have beena rebel. I was always the person who would compete at anything from a Monopolygame to a water-balloon fight. I tried anything with risks, even stunts most guyswouldn't do. Wrestling, considered a "male-dominated" sport, was achallenge I couldn't resist. It was another way to rebel against thenorm.

Every Saturday, before the sun even crept through the windows, Idragged myself out of bed to travel to watch my brother wrestle and get all theattention. I would have to sit on those uncomfortable bleachers from sunup tosundown watching the boys have all the fun. There were few girls out therewrestling, which intrigued me. I wanted to change the perception that girlsshouldn't compete in a so-called male-dominated sport. Since then, wrestling hasbeen part of my life.

As the years passed, I got in really good shape andlearned what it means to have dedication, determination and the desire to workfor a dream. Wrestling is one of those sports that I can't depend on, or blame,anyone else for what happens. For three years I beat out the boys to qualify forKids State. Though, still a rebel, I didn't go because the rules said I had tocut my hair like a boy. I refused to be something I'm not. I kept fighting forwhat I believed in and eventually the wrestling federation committee changedthat rule.

I can still remember how all the mothers told theirsons before a match: "Don't let that girl beat you." To this day, thebest part of wrestling is the memory of when a boy would walk off the mat cryingbecause he lost bad - and lost to a girl.

The last match of my career wason a cold, windy day in March at the Girls State Wrestling Championships. Everytournament has the same gruesome routine. I wanted to be in a particular weightclass where I thought I had the best chance. I worked hard all week, and two daysbefore weigh-in starved myself to the point I felt like I couldn't go anotherminute without food and water. The morning of the weigh-in I tried to be thefirst one there so I could go eat. I gulped down my food to gain back thestrength to get out on that mat and compete.

I was feeling exhilarated bythe taste of victory. It came time for my championship match. I walked outdetermined to win. By the time the referee told us to shake hands I couldn't hearor see anyone except my opponent, glaring with determination right back atme.

My heart was pounding. The referee blew the whistle to start. A takedown there, an escape here, and a whistle - that is all I can remember of thematch. The final whistle blew and I looked at the scoreboard and realized I hadwon by four points. The sound of the crowd, the smell of the mats, and thecameras and lights all came back into focus. I was the new Girls State WrestlingChampion. I had so much emotion running through me - excitement, relief, fatigue.But after a few minutes of feeling like a champion, a shock of pain shot throughmy knee.

Because of my knee injury, my dream of going to Nationalsvanished. But through it all, I still have my rebel self inside, telling me to goahead and wrestle next year in college. I just might. I have learned that you canaccomplish whatever you put your mind to.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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