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A Wildcat with an Angel Wing

Skylar Iverson isn’t satisfied with just being a part of history at Hanover Central High School, she is willing to work as hard as necessary to make sure her history is a winning one.  Skyler is one of just a handful of female athletes to compete on the Hanover Central High School Wildcat Wrestling team, and the first in a very long time. 

girl standing in front of cardboard wildcat

Skylar Iverson

Skylar began wrestling as a Wildcat in 8th grade, but her passion for the most physical of all sports goes back to her early childhood.  “I want to be a professional fighter, and I started studying the martial arts when I was six-years-old,” said Skylar.  She studied martial arts at the Torres Martial Arts Academy in Griffith and participates in boxing at Hammond Boxing.  Ultimately, it was the consistent encouragement of her father, Richard and older brother Brandon, a Junior at Hanover Central High School, that convinced her to give wrestling a try.  “I fell in love with it the first time I did it,” explained Skylar.  Her mom, Mary Beth wasn’t quite as enthusiastic.  In the beginning and recognizing that wrestling is considered a male sport, Skylar’s mom had reservations about Skylar’s participation. It didn’t take long however, for Mary Beth to support Skylar’s ambitions and tell Skylar to; “do your thing.”

girl with headgear on standing by coaches

Skylar describes stepping on to the mat as "the best feeling," and you can see the anticipation on her face.  

It hasn’t always been an easy for Skylar to do her own thing.  The ups and downs of a wrestling season; weight management, dealing with bumps and bruises, wins and losses, and nagging injuries, are all part of daily life for Skylar.  Last year a shoulder injury sidelined Sklyar after just eight meets.  “I tore my shoulder and I’m back to about 50%, but it’s still weak,” she explained.  Born with a shoulder that her Mom refers to as her “angel wing,” Skylar’s scapula would require more surgeries to completely and permanently correct.  Skylar has chosen to rehab her shoulder knowing she will get stronger.  With each bit of strength comes her ability to be more competitive.  “I need to get stronger, so these boys can’t throw me around,” laughs Skylar.  Feeling belittled by opponents, based purely on gender is annoying.  “I don’t really know what it is,” says Skylar when asked about comments made indirectly by members of opposing teams.  “They’ll just say, oh, it’s a girl or, she’s here again,” which is definitely not enough to through off Skylar who feels supported by her coach and her teammates.  “They don’t start stuff, they’re just chill,” says Skylar with a smile when talking about her teammates.  “I’m sure competing is more difficult for Skylar as a girl,” said Hanover Head Wrestling Coach, Roger Vukobratavich.  “But the art and techniques of wrestling level the playing field.  I’m so proud of Skylar for sticking it out,” he explained. 

girl wrestling with boy

Skylar in action at the Harvest Classic at Lake Central in the black singlet.

Skylar wrestles six days a week for an hour and a half each day and competes, generally on Wednesday and Saturday.  Skylar believes she’s having a decent season, but says without hesitation; “There’s always room for improvement, but I do what I know and what I can and I listen to my coaches,” said Skylar.  When the season ends on the fifteenth of February, Skylar will continue to work hard by boxing and plans on beginning to lift weights as well as do some off season training.  

Though only a freshman, Skylar already sees a path to her hopes and dreams.  She would like to attend Arizona State University, where there IS a girls’ wrestling team.  “I’ve never wrestled a girl in my life or trained with one either,” Skylar chuckled.  She is looking forward to that future opportunity and knows her current wrestling experience at Hanover will be extremely beneficial. 

girl wrestling boy

I’ve had the opportunity to watch a few practices and Skylar is tough and doesn’t give in," said Hanover Athletic Director, Kelly Bermes.

Athletic Director, Kelly Bermes is someone Skylar looks up to and relies on to always be supportive.  “I just love her,” said Skylar.  The feeling is mutual.  “Skylar and I have bonded since I get to weigh her in each time she is wrestling at home.  I know how hard it is to maintain your weight and I give her tremendous credit for doing what she does,” said Athletic Director, Kelly Bermes who went on to add: “I’ve had the opportunity to watch a few practices and Skylar is tough and doesn’t give in.  I am proud of the support she receives from her fellow wrestlers and our coaches.  She is treated like any other wrestler, and that’s exactly how it should be.  Skylar loves wrestling and I love that she is learning tough life lessons that will stay with her for the rest of her life.” 

What Skylar loves most of all, is wrestling.  The perfect day for Skylar, would be making weight, going all three rounds and winning.  Even when the days aren’t perfect, the desire is evident and as Skylar begins to get restless talking about wrestling and heads for the door with a quick look back over her angel wing shoulder she smiles and says; “The adrenaline rush you get when you step on the mat is such a good feeling.  I love it every time.”