Bethany Ralph is the first girl to ever captain the W-H wrestling team.
When Bethany Ralph first stepped on the wrestling mat as a freshman at Whitman-Hanson Regional High, she knew she wanted to be a leader, not a follower.
After all, she was a female in a predominantly male sport, but that was the last thing on her mind.
“I realized right away, I wanted to be a captain,” Ralph said.
“I knew that this was going to be something much more than a sport for me,” she said. “And to lead such an amazing group of young men would mean that I experienced that and earned my position.”
Ralph was one of two females on the roster in the 2016-17 season. Fellow female wrestler and friend Damari Brandao was the reason she decided to hit the mat.
“She brought it up to me and I decided it was something different and I jumped right into it,” Ralph said.
Gary Rabinovitz, who was in his first season as W-H’s head wrestling coach at the time, was immediately drawn to Ralph‘s passion for the sport.
“It all comes down to the heart and the work ethic,” Rabinovitz said. “She’s had it since Day One. She came in after the first week, two weeks of the season, black and blue everywhere. Her parents brought her to the doctors to make sure everything was good. It was just from working hard.”
Now a senior, Ralph’s the first female to ever serve as a W-H wrestling captain.
“She wanted to work as hard as everybody from Day One,” said Rabinovitz. “She doesn’t consider herself a girl, she considers herself a wrestler. From her work ethic and what she puts into this every day, she has respect from every one of these guys.”
Sophomore wrestler Rocco Ruffini echoed his head coach’s sentiments.
“We don’t think of her as a girl,” Ruffini said. “She knows when to step up and push us harder. She’s a great leader.”
Ralph is no stranger to being a trailblazer. Last season, she was on the verge of making history, wrestling in the finals of the inaugural MIAA girls’ state wrestling tournament at 120 pounds. She finished second.
“To be able to make it to the top of the girls’ bracket is also another big accomplishment because I’m just another girl they don’t think can get there,” Ralph said.
Ralph has even bigger aspirations than a state title as she winds down her career on the mat.
“Hopefully people will remember my name and I’ll be someone they can look up to someday,” Ralph said.