Conneaut freshman Mollie Rozalski may look back at her first state tournament as going 0-2.
Jordan Jarvi however will look back at it as an opportunity she could have only dreamt of.
Rozalski was one of 224 girls competing at the Schottenstein Center last weekend in the first ever sanctioned tournament by the OHSAA for girls wrestling.
Jarvi, who worked this season specifically with Rozalski and Conneaut’s other girl wrestler Olivia Chase, sat mat-side in the coaches chair.
Though she did not get to see the freshman win a bout, she still thoroughly appreciated the moment.
“It was super exciting to see,” Jarvi said. “It’s been an honor to come back here and help coach the girls. It’s something I never thought I would see.”
Jarvi graduated from Conneaut in 2019. She then went onto Gannon University and spent a year with one of just a handful of college wrestling programs for women in the country.
Though she constantly faced the obstacles associated with being in a sport dominated by boys, she still cherished her time on the mat.
“I loved what the sport teaches,” she said. “I gained a lot of confidence, life skills and accountability. When you’re out there on that mat, if something goes wrong, there’s no one to blame but yourself. It’s helped me with so many important parts of my life.”
After a year at Gannon, Jarvi is now working at Brown Memorial Hospital while going to school for a nursing degree.
Jarvi may be new in coaching, but her understanding of what it’s like to be a girl trying to make her way on the mat has been a big help to Conneaut head coach Keith Sherman.
“It’s really valuable having a female coach,” Sherman said. “Guys you can scream and holler at and they don’t take it to heart so much.”
Sherman also coaches the Spartans softball team. He said at times he gets things a little mixed up.
“At times I have to apologize to the girls,” he said. “I tell them the wrestling coach in me came out.”
Jarvi understands though where the coach is coming from because she understands first hand how tough the sport of wrestling is. She also understands though that women respond differently.
“You have to have a different approach,” she said. “Girls don’t always respond to the same thing boys do. You can’t be ‘in their face,’ so much. Every wrestler is different, but I think with girls you have to be more constructive with your criticism.”
The approach is different, so also is the style girls wrestle with.
“I like to focus on leverage,” Jarvi said. “Typically girls are not as strong as the boys, so knowing how to use leveraget is much more important.”
Sherman said the technique is similar, but understanding where strength lies makes a difference.
“Girls for the most part are stronger in their hips and legs than they are in their upper body,” he said. “They’re not going to overpower anybody the way boys can, you have to train them so they use their strength appropriately.”
Both Sherman and Jarvi are hopeful that more girls become interested in the sport.
“I want to see two totally different teams,” Sherman said. “If we have the interest, we can get a hired position. I can just coach the boys and help out with the girls.”
Having a girl qualify for the state tournament was a huge step in the right direction for making that happen.
“Absolutely,” Jarvi said. “It’s nice to show them that there are opportunities for them. I think we need to gear up our advertising that we want girls to get involved in wrestling.”
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