Girl Wrestler follows a year in the life of Tara Neal, a Texas teenager who rocks the establishment by insisting that girls and boys should be able to wrestle on the same mat.
The film was shot during a crucial period in Tara’s wrestling career: The last year that she was allowed to wrestle boys under Texas state guidelines. In the United States, only Texas and Hawaii prohibit girls from wrestling boys in high school. Once she entered high school, Tara’s opportunities to compete would disappear. Because so few girls choose to wrestle, and she wouldn’t be allowed to wrestle boys, she would have no one to wrestle with at school. “If they make me stop wrestling boys,” she says, “then I’m not going to get any competition because there aren’t enough girls from Texas that are my age and weight.”
From allegations of referee bias against girl wrestlers to coaches who proclaim their hatred of Title IX — the federal statute that grants women’s athletics proportionality in public schools — Girl Wrestler personalizes the clash of gender and sport and, in particular, the policy debates over Title IX. —ITVS