How a freshman and her coach dad broke Kansas high school wrestling's gender barrier

Female wrestlers shake up high school sports
Female wrestlers shake up high school sports 03:38

When Kansas high school freshman Mya decided she wanted to join the wrestling team that her father coached, girls' wrestling was still four years away from being an official sport. Her father, Doug Kretzer, had originally brought her on as team manager before relenting and letting her compete alongside the male students on the team.

"It's scary for a coach and a dad when you have a female wrestling in a combat sport, against boys," Kretzer told CBS News' Jamie Yuccas.

"It was never easy, like competing and being on a team full of boys," an emotional Mya recounted with tears in her eyes. "But like, day and night, like, you wrestle with these people. Like it's really difficult."

Her struggle paved the way for hundreds of girls in her position who found that wrestling gave them strength and confidence they otherwise would not have had.

Nicky Moore, a female wrestler who is one of five girls on the Nickerson High School varsity squad, credited wrestling with transforming her from a quiet girl who was bullied to being number one in Kansas for her weight class.

"I kinda walked with my head down, I stayed by myself," she said. "I just didn't feel that important. I didn't think I was good enough to be where I am today."

Her mother said wrestling was a godsend for her as well as Nicky.

"It's beyond emotional," Angel Moore said. "I was the invisible kid in school, and to see that I could change that for her – can you wish for anything more for your kid?"

After Nicky competes for her first state title, she will look beyond high school sports to the 2024 Olympics.

"This is what I want to do for the rest of my life," she said.

Four years after his and Mya's fight for opportunities, coach Doug Kretzer said it has not been difficult to find girls willing to walk through the door the pair had opened.

"I didn't have to look very far today to see a lotta girls with big smiles on their faces… because they felt like they had a chance to compete," he said.

Asked if she wished she could participate in a regional high school girls' wrestling competition like Nicky had, Mya said it was up to the girls she was now coaching.

"They can definitely take the state championship," she laughed.