History was made Monday in Oklahoma -- home state to all-time wrestling greats such as Dan Hodge and John Smith -- when Broken Arrow High School announced the establishment of the state's first girls wrestling program ... and the hiring of Cassidy Jasperson as the new program's head coach.
Jasperson just concluded a successful mat career at Oklahoma City University, where she was captain of the women's wrestling program. Jasperson's accomplishments include becoming a five-time collegiate all-American, winning the bronze medal at the 2017 U.S. Senior Open and finishing third at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Women's Invitational. In her college career, Jasperson crafted a 75-32 overall record with 47 pins.
"Wrestling has had such a positive impact on my life, and I am excited to have been chosen to lead the first girls' program in the state of Oklahoma," said Jasperson. "I can't wait to get started and introduce the female athletes in Broken Arrow to this amazing sport."
Steve Dunn, executive director of athletics at Broken Arrow, a 3,800-student high school in suburban Tulsa, said of the history-making decision to establish a girls' wrestling program, and hire Cassidy Jasperson as the program's first coach: "At Broken Arrow, we consistently seek new ways to lead and follow our students into the future. We take pride in doing our part to expand girls wrestling here in Oklahoma.
"Coach Jasperson is the perfect fit to lead our new program," Dunn continued. "She is a proven technician of the sport, but what stood out the most is her high energy and infectious personality. Our young ladies will greatly benefit from her leadership and experience on the mat."
Jasperson, who will be graduating from OCU with a degree in elementary education this spring, will be a classroom teacher at a yet-to-be-determined school in the Broken Arrow public school district.
The Broken Arrow High School girls wrestling program is expected to compete in dual meets and tournaments starting this fall.
During the 2018-19 school year, 87 girls wrestled in Oklahoma high schools. The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association -- which governs high school sports in the Sooner State -- is looking to add a girls' division as an exhibition state tournament as early as 2020.
Across the nation, girls wrestling participation has grown exponentially over the past 25 years. Since 1994, the number of girls who wrestle in high school has grown from 800 to more than 16,500 nationwide. Fourteen states now have sanctioned girls state wrestling championships.
John Smith, a legendary figure in the sport of wrestling as an NCAA champ and Olympic gold medalist who is now head coach at Oklahoma State, weighed in with his opinion of Broken Arrow High's decision to launch the state's first girls' prep wrestling program, saying, "Broken Arrow is setting the example I hope all schools in Oklahoma follow. I want to encourage all parents, coaches, student-athletes and athletic administrators in Oklahoma to join the wave for gender inclusion that is building across our country in the greatest character-building sport there is: wrestling."