They say it's a man's world, but that landscape is changing for wrestling at Shelbyville Central High School thanks to three Eaglettes who step on the mat every day and compete with the guys.
Having just restarted the wrestling program a season ago, coach Marcus McDonald brought on Mercedes McKay, Cassidy Feisel, and Mimi Riega for the 2012 season.
And so far, the adjustment to bringing the three on has yielded nothing but positives for the program, according to McDonald.
"I think it's good for them because it levels the playing field a little bit when a girl steps on the mat as far as the psyche of the team. It makes some of our guys better. I think everybody on our team doesn't want to see our girls getting beat so in practice they want to make them better," he said.
While the three join the team with the same goals of finding success, they all had similar, and different reasons for wanting to join.
"I was raised in Nashville and our schools didn't have wrestling. So we moved here and someone told me girls could join. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I really enjoy it. It's something different that other girls wouldn't do," McKay said.
Feisel, on the other hand, had the simple motives of wanting to prove she could compete every bit as successfully as the guys.
"I joined wrestling because I wanted to prove everybody wrong that I can do a guys' sport. I wanted to do football this year, but I came in too late," she said.
Riega also wanted to try and prove the naysayers wrong, and joined with the goal of turning a few heads in the process.
"I joined and I'm doing what I can do and proving everybody else wrong. I have teammates on the team that really inspire me. It's really fun," she said.
When it comes to the ins and outs of competing and practicing, the three are just three more teammates on the roster with no special treatment--a fact which McDonald feels helps make the team better.
"They don't give them any slack. When a guy ease up on her, Mimi asks to pair up with someone else.
"I've watched how girls have progressed in this sport, and girls are rougher than the guys," he said.
The girls don't see themselves as receiving any special treatment and that's just the way they like it.
"I just enjoy being out there and being a part of the team. I don't want people judging me because I'm a girl, I consider myself like everybody else," McKay said.
In wrestling, participants compete in various weight classes against wrestlers from other schools of the same weight classes.
In order to secure a starting position, the team members have to find their suitable weight class and earn a role.
All three girls, McDonald says, have the potential to not only be starters, but compete and participate with the top competition in the area.
"Cassidy is a starter. I think Mercedes at 135 pounds could also potentially be a starter. And the same thing for Mimi. When you have a need at a weight class and if one of these ladies can fill it, they're going to fill it," he said.
With the preseason tournaments and matches in the books, the team has already dived into the heart of the schedule, and the reception of the Eaglette three has been well-received and positive in nearly every aspect.
"Everybody across the board has really taken to this a lot better than I could have hoped," McDonald said.
For the girls, besting the boys is just another day of work on the mat, as well as a life changing endeavor.
"It's nothing like I thought it would be at all. You have to fit in somewhere," Feisel said.
It's a safe bet they found their somewhere to fit in.
"It's changed my life," the group said.