In every classroom, there is always that one student who keeps to him or herself. They’re not necessarily “loners”, but people who tend to stay quiet even within their own circle. Kellie Bendezu (11) was an example of this type of student: a quiet girl in elementary school, teased because of how “nerdy and weak” she looked. However, she decided that in high school, she put an end to her silence:
“I was tired,” she shared “I was done with people. I was like ‘I just have to do me. I can’t live to please others’.”
Not many people can break from their shell as Kellie did. Nevertheless, she could not have done it alone. She was introduced to something new in freshman year: wrestling.
“It gave me confidence that I never had. Wrestling is all discipline and you have to be there or you don’t get better. I mean, freshmen year of wrestling, I didn’t win one match, and then sophomore year I went to Masters. Although it’s a male-dominant sport and we didn’t have a girl’s team at that point, I never felt uncomfortable. I was treated the same by Coach Hastings and all my coaches. They encouraged me because they knew I would be there everyday.”
Outside of school, Kellie also has her parents’ full support because of her dedication to wrestling:
“I think [my parents] love that I do it. I think they saw a change in me once I joined. I think they saw me be more confident and happy.”
Although, in the beginning she was quiet, she joined wrestling. Since the start she had a circle of support and encouragement. Her friends helped her realize that she did not have to please others. Her brother gave her a glimpse of the sport she now loves. Her coaches pushed Kellie to her current position because they saw her potential. Her parents supported her because they saw how happy she became. All these people helped her become who she is now, from a quiet girl to a confident girl with a voice, and she now has a message for everyone: “We don’t really have a girl’s team right now. That’s why we need girls to give it a chance and join. I want to start a girl’s wrestling team.”