Allyssa Pirro is used to the doubters.
As a junior on Lutheran West’s wrestling team, Pirro has faced her fair share of opponents and coaches that have told her she couldn’t do it. She’s never let those voices stop her and she won’t start now.
In fact, those doubters motivate Pirro. As a member of the first sanctioned all-girls wrestling team in Ohio, in March, Pirro claimed the 142-pound title at the Ohio Athletic Committee girls wrestling championship.
“It was a good feeling, but right now my goal is to place at a national USA wrestling tournament,” Pirro said. “I’ve been working on that since I started wrestling.”
That trip to Columbus was exciting for Pirro, but she said it didn’t compare to the pride she felt in being the center of Lutheran West coach Dave Ressler’s girls team.
“Seeing that this team’s been created around me is a great feeling,” Pirro said. “Being the only girl on the boys team, I didn’t really have any friends.”
While still wrestling on the boys team for dual meets throughout the season, the all-girls team, made up of Pirro and five others as of last season, will take part in several tournaments throughout the season in preparation for the inaugural Ohio Wrestling Coaches Association state tournament in February.
Pirro said she still sees instances of other wrestlers taking it easy on her or not wanting to wrestle her because she is a girl. Though it’s something she faces a lot, that type of disrespect still bothers her.
Outside of Ohio, Pirro has also wrestled nationally in states such as North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. Her favorite destination has been Myrtle Beach as it provided time for her and the team to relax and take their minds off wrestling.
Wrestling wasn’t Pirro’s first entry into combat sports. In 2013, Pirro began practicing Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, following in her father’s’ footsteps, who started training in 2012. She started wrestling at the Wrestling Factory of Cleveland as a way to improve her takedowns.
As soon as she started, though, she fell in love.
The transition wasn’t easy at first. Pirro said she went from being “a 12-year-old beating 20-year-olds” in Jiu-Jitsu, to winning only one match when she started wrestling.
Father Chris Pirro said his daughter’s passion for wrestling kept her upbeat through her early struggles.
“The hardest part for her was that she came from the Jiu-Jitsu world and she was really good at it,” Chris Pirro said. “Watching her go from being the big fish in the little pond to not winning a match (was tough for me as well).”
Thankfully, she said, Lutheran West coach Dave Ressler made that transition much easier.
“Coach Ressler has always been a really good coach to me, honestly,” Allyssa Pirro said. “He’s always believed in me and done his best to help me. When I was going through (tough transitions) my freshman year, he was always there for me. Other coaches would push away girls on their team, but he never did that.”
Last season, she finished 6-9 at 132-lbs on the junior varsity team. This season, with two other contenders for the varsity spot, both Allyssa Pirro and Ressler said she has a chance of taking that spot.
“All that extra stuff (preparations in the classroom, training with the Wrestling Factory and national experience) is just making her improve more and more,” Ressler said. “She has a real, legitimate shot of being a varsity starter on this team. Most girls, that wouldn’t be in the mix, especially at a weight class like 132 or 138.”
Though she is only a junior, Ressler has naturally tabbed Allyssa Pirro as a veteran leader coming into her third season, not only for the girls team but for some of the boys as well.
“We’re just very proud of what she’s accomplished so far, her future is super bright,” Ressler said. “I’m really looking forward to this year and her participation and growing the sport. Her attitude is, there’s not a girl in the state of Ohio that can beat her. She wants to dominate.”
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