By Todd Quinones
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A teenager with big dreams is fighting her way to the top and she is defeating one boy at a time.
But tonight she’s facing her biggest challenge yet — getting onto the boys wrestling team.
If you think it’s an odd sight watching Amanda Leve beat a boy into submission, think again. The 16-year-old is so good she’s won jiu-jitsu tournaments, and now she wants to wrestle at Archbishop Ryan High School.
“In jiu-jitsu it’s not like a big thing to see a girl go against a guy,” Leve said.
But in the world that is Catholic school sports, it is a big deal. So big, in fact, it’s not allowed. And Amanda was told she can’t join the wrestling team.
When asked what she would say to critics who say girls shouldn’t wrestle, Leve answered, “I would say why not? Girls can do anything a guy can do.”
However, the Archdiocese takes a different view, despite Amanda’s love of the grueling sport of jiu-jitsu.
In statement from an Archdiocesan spokesperson:
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic high schools currently designate wrestling as a full contact sport open to boys only. The majority of sports in our high schools are designated by gender with separate teams for boys and girls. These measures are taken to ensure an appropriate playing environment that is safe for all participants. They also reflect the Catholic teaching that gender differences are important and play a role in the development of mature Christian identity while serving the distinct differences between male and female athletes. Representatives from both Archbishop Ryan High School and the Office of Catholic Education have met with a female student who wishes to wrestle on the school’s newly formed team. At that time, the current rule and the reasoning behind it was relayed clearly. The situation will be reviewed moving forward. There is no definitive timetable for a final decision. All possible factors will be taken into account to ensure that sports programs in our high schools foster an enjoyable and safe atmosphere to supplement academic pursuits and provide for proper human formation with Christian dignity and maturity.
But that doesn’t sit well with Amanda’s mom.
“Honestly I feel she’s being unfairly discriminated against,” Colleen Leve said.
The high school junior dreams of making it big some day as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. She believes high school wrestling will help round out her game and she’s not concerned about being teased at school.
“Most of the boys in my high school tell me they’re afraid of me all the time,” Leve said. “So, it’s not a big deal.”
Amanda is a determined individual. She hopes she will get to wrestle this year for her high school team. Right now, the Archdiocese indicates officials are reviewing her case, but they are not setting a timetable for when they will make a decision.