Meet Laila Villegas, Female Wrestler and Martial Artist

RJ Uriarte, staff writer, freshman

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San Diego High School, a complex with over two thousand students, can often feel like an overwhelming and intimidating place. It is hard to remember that with every student there comes a multitude of hidden talents and desires. One of these outstanding students is fourteen-year-old freshman Laila Villegas, who attends Business and Leadership and is on the girl’s wrestling team.

What makes her unique? “I think that doing abnormal things makes me special.” Villegas’s appreciation for the abnormal shines through as she participated in the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It focuses on training smaller people on how to protect themselves. “My cousin David… told me to give it a try and I fell in love [with Jiu-JItsu],” she said explaining why she undertook these sports. “They are beautiful sports that not everyone knows about, [and] once I started I didn’t want to stop,” she added.

Laila feels that the best part of participating in martial arts is the social aspect. “The people you get to meet, they enjoy doing the same thing as you.” And the worst part is how sore she becomes after she practices. Fortunately, Laila has never been gravely injured. While persevering in such a physical sports another of her favorite parts surprising. “There is no ball involved, I am not good at sports that do.”

She has since quit Jiu-Jitsu and started wrestling. The team practices every day for two and a half hours of intense training and exercise. “It is a fun sport that takes a lot of hard work and determination,” she said.

Being a female in a male dominated sport is often challenging. Laila does not shy away from the difference, in fact she lets it empower her. “Being a girl that wrestles is cool and takes a lot of guts. Especially being a smaller, I feel that doing wrestling has made me a bigger person.” While she loves the sport there are times that she has wanted to call it quits. “I feel that I should quit because I personally do have a lot going on.” But she added that “[Wrestling has] made me proud of what I do and has built up my confidence. It showed me that while I may be a small person I can still do big things.”

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Meet Laila Villegas, Female Wrestler and Martial Artist