Going to the Mat

A PBS Film Looks at a Girl Wrestler

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints

When Tara Neal was 13, she wanted to wrestle. She donned her singlet, stepped onto the mat, and faced her opponent—who was almost always a boy.

Ms. Neal, of Cedar Park, Texas, often won. But some male opponents and their parents didn’t think girls and boys should wrestle each other.

A new documentary by University of Texas lecturer Diane Zander chronicles Ms. Neal’s life during a season of wrestling and the challenges she faced both inside and outside the gym.

Tara Neal
Tara Neal gets prematch help from her father, James.
—Diane Zander/ITVS

“Girl Wrestler,” a 60-minute documentary, is scheduled to air on Public Broadcasting Service stations on Dec. 14. Viewers should check their local listings.

In the film, Ms. Neal deals with the divorce of her parents, pressure from her father to succeed, and the imperative of cutting weight. She also learns about objections some wrestlers have to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs.

When Ms. Neal makes it to a national tournament in Fresno, Calif., she hears opposition to Title IX.

In 2002, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige formed a commission to study how Title IX was working, but he ultimately chose to make no significant changes in the way the law is enforced.

Though Ms. Neal wrestled well during her early teen years, the Texas University Interscholastic League prohibits girls from wrestling boys at the high school level. When she got to Cedar Park High School, Ms. Neal joined the wrestling team, but with no other girls to wrestle, she sat on the sidelines.

Ultimately, she quit wrestling.

But in the film she expresses hopes for the future of the sport. “Eventually, there’s going to be more girls, and everybody’s going to be OK with it,” she says. “It’s just going to be a normal thing.”

Vol. 24, Issue 12, Page 6

Published in Print: November 17, 2004, as Going to the Mat

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

To Address Chronic Absenteeism, Dig into the Data

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Keep Your Schools Safe and Responsive to Real Challenges

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

3 Unique Learner Profiles for Emerging Bilinguals

Effective Questioning Practices to Spur Thinking

Empower Reading Teachers with Proven Literacy PD

Dyslexia: How to Identify Warning Signs at Every Grade

Increased Social Connectedness Through Digital Peer Learning

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >