This family of Hanover sisters is making history on the wrestling mat

Posted at 11:42 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 23:42:52-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- As it is at practically every other high school across the country, the wrestling room at Patrick Henry High School is a bevy of activity during practice. Arms and legs flying in every direction, all hoping to better themselves individually for the sake of the entire team.

Two of the smallest competitors are also two of the most unlikely, that is, to everybody but themselves.

"It's just what I do. It's just my sport," Jordan Forsyth said.

Sara and Jordan Forsyth are the closest thing the Patriot program has to a legacy in wrestling. Introduced to wrestling at an early age, these two are half of the wrestling Forsyth sister who have all grown up in the sport.

"I think I fell in love with the feeling of, when I'm out there, it's just one-on-one with someone. It's just me and them. There's no excuses, there's no anything," Sara said.

"You did it all yourself but it's still a team sport. You still get the closeness of the team feeling but it's your individual win," Jordan said.

The Forsyths have stuck with wrestling even though opportunities to compete have been few and far between at times. In middle school, they almost never saw another girl on the opposing team and have wrestled against boys almost exclusively, that is, when the boys would actually compete against them.

"And then the guys that did were either complete jerks or... there was no in-between," Sara said.

"I don't think boys wrestle girls any differently than they do other guys," Jordan said.

But when they have wrestled against other girls, they have noticed a difference.

"Girls are just different wrestlers. They're more flexible and you have to wrestle completely differently," Sara said.

"It's a lot harder to pin a girl flat than it is a boy because of the flexibility in the hips and shoulders," Jordan said.

"You gotta be careful. Girls will throw you where guys tend to ease off the throws," Sara said.

"You think about how tough they are to grit it out. The sense of equality may not be there but they're forging their own equality," Coach Smith said.

Sara and Jordan have become something of a perfect example of how girls can succeed in what might be thought of as a male-exclusive sport. So much so that they were selected for a delegation to the U.S. Capitol earlier this year to lobby for girl's wrestling to be sanctioned nationwide as its own individual sport.

"It just hit me all at once. I'm literally making history right now. That was kinda cool," Sara said.

"I just realized how many people it takes to get something passed or something changed," Jordan said.

On that very day, the Virginia High School League announced they are sanctioning girls wrestling for the first time this year. It has opened up opportunities for more matches and to compete for their very own state title.

"Now they have opportunities. There's a separate schedule for them that I've been able to create. There's no limit to how many of those events I can get them into," Smith said.

"I was shocked and I was like, so what changes now? What do we have to do because obviously, they can't just snap their fingers and everything changes? We were like, what do we have to do to make sure this sport grows?" Sara said.

The sisters are doing it just by showing up every day and giving the sport that they love everything they have.

"They're absolutely perfect role models for what I want my daughter to get into eventually," Smith said.

"As long as you have the heart to do it, that's really all you need," Sara said.

"That's all it takes is heart to get into the sport," Jordan said.

Both Jordan and Sara can compete for state titles this year and because the girl's division adds a 100-pound weight class that the boys don't have, the two can compete and win without facing each other, something they don't like to do.

They will compete against each other in practice but according to Coach Smith, they love each other too much to have that much competition between them.