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<p>This picture, taken while she was in high school, shows Bailee Toadvine wrestling. Photo courtesy of Bailee Toadvine.</p>
This picture, taken while she was in high school, shows Bailee Toadvine wrestling. Photo courtesy of Bailee Toadvine.

Otterbein creates new women's wrestling team

Otterbein’s first women’s wrestling team provides another opportunity for students to get involved in the athletic department and plays a unique role in the enrollment process to put the campus on prospective students’ radars.  

Throughout the state, women’s wrestling at the high school level has been growing in popularity. The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSSA) hosted the first statewide women’s wrestling championship in March of this year. This gave many young women the opportunity to compete at a level of competition that was traditionally not available to them.  

Bailee Toadvine, a potential wrestler for the women’s wrestling team, recalled the disparities of wrestling in high school . The only tournaments that were presented as options for girl’s wrestling were districts and regional tournaments, while boy’s wrestling had districts, regionals, and states.  

With her volleyball coach's help, Toadvine connected with Brent Rastetter, director of wrestling operations. He extended her an offer to join Otterbein’s first women’s wrestling team.  

Toadvine said joining the women’s wrestling team would help her meet more people and have an opportunity to form a close group on campus.  

Sports not only provide a close-knit community for new students, but it can also act as a path for marginalized students, such as first-generation students, to attend college 

When coach Rastetter began the men’s wrestling program, he was asked to recruit at least 12 students. The men’s wrestling program received about twice as many students. Rastetter anticipates a similar outcome with the start of the women’s wrestling program.  

With over 31,000 girls participating in high school level wrestling, the university has prepared for the wrestlers’ arrival by ordering new wrestling mats and hiring a new assistant coach, Chris Kline, to oversee the women’s wrestling team, according to Rastetter.  

Rastetter explained that Central Ohio has some of the best high schools for women’s wrestling in the whole state. Some of these schools include Olentangy Orange High School, William Henry Harrison High School, and Hayes High School. He said he wanted to “keep the talent in the state.”  

The formation of the women’s wrestling team was the result of the Otterbein Innovation Fund. The innovation fund is money donated by the board of trustees to help start initiatives that have the potential to “retain students and build revenue,” according to Otterbein’s official website.  

Students like Toadvine could receive opportunities that were not originally accessible to them because of these initiatives.  

In anticipation of the upcoming season, Toadvine has been preparing to get back into the ring. She said that working out with the volleyball team has helped her condition for the season.  

Toadvine mentioned that she might face challenges with time-management since her time will be split between volleyball and wrestling but remained excited to get another experience at Otterbein.  

The university announced that the women’s wrestling season would begin during the 2024-2025 academic year.  

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