In only her second year of playing, sophomore Megna Chalamala has made a notable impact on Northwood’s Varsity Wrestling team. As just one of two girls on the team, Chalamala has worked incredibly hard during her first two seasons and, as a result, has earned her position as a captain of the team and been an inspiration to many athletes who wish to improve in every aspect of their sports. Every day, Chalamala strives to improve her game and does not rest until she is satisfied with her performance.
Zarina Yunis: How long have you been wrestling?
Megna Chalamala: I started last year, so I have been wrestling for about a year and a half now.
ZY: Why did you decide to wrestle?
MC: Wrestling is generally seen as a masculine sport but it really stood out to me because I wanted to get physically stronger. When I actually started I realized that there is also a large mental aspect of wrestling. I guess you can say that I did wrestling to not only become physically stronger but also mentally stronger.
ZY: What is your favorite aspect of the sport?
MC: It’s definitely being the underdog and then coming out. It’s really nice seeing the expressions of the other coaches when I actually go into a match. They especially get surprised when I win matches, which makes it really fun.
ZY: What is it like being one of the only girls on the team?
MC: It’s a little weird because there is that “guy bond” as they call it, like the bro code, but my team especially is so accepting. We just hang out, and it’s so natural for all of us; it’s not like a gender difference. They work hard as athletes and so do I, and we kind of come together like that.
ZY: I am aware that you got injured during this season. How did it happen?
MC: I was wrestling a girl at a Mater Dei tournament. I was in the 113-pound weight class and I weigh 100 pounds, so I usually wrestle 106 but I was 113 that day. The girl hooked her leg when I was tripoding up and she basically hooked her leg around my right knee, and she launched out towards the right and I heard three pops. I kept wrestling because I was up by one point, and then in the last few seconds, the girl saw me holding my knee, so she launched right at it and pushed it back. I ended up losing the match by one point.
ZY: How have you persisted from any injuries, struggles or setbacks you have had during the season?
MC: It was hard because the first tournament I went to, I did not do so well. I lost three matches, and I got pinned in all three of them. The guys were super athletic and physical, and they kept coming at me, so I lost pretty badly, but as the season went on, I started learning new techniques and working harder. I realized that after that first tournament I wasn’t putting in as much effort as I possibly could, so I kept going and trying to improve. It kind of showed the result, as I was starting to get more aggressive and I started to win more.
ZY: What advice do you have for other athletes that are striving to improve?
MC: Definitely don’t worry about what others think of you — just try your hardest. It doesn’t matter if it’s not their highest standard or if they think you’re the best. If you work hard and you put that time and dedication in, you know that you will get something out of it. Even if you’re not the best athlete, if you put in that effort you will get that muscle memory and start getting better and better. Before you know it, you will start winning and it’s a good feeling.