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Family upset over girl being kicked off Fountain Valley wrestling team
Angie Vu was looking forward to her second year as a wrestler in the Fountain Valley program.
As a sophomore, Vu, who has a background in jiu-jitsu, posted a 22-5 record with 19 pins and qualified for the girls CIF finals by placing seventh at the CIF regional.
She will return to the mats this year, but it will not be at Fountain Valley. Vu, 16, has transferred to Ocean View after she was kicked off the team at Fountain Valley with an ambiguous explanation.
“I really wish they came out with a clear answer from the beginning,” Vu said Wednesday. “Instead of struggling and having so many people involved. All of this could have been avoided.”
The problems began in the summer when Vu was forced to miss the Barons’ summer camp after she was injured in an auto accident. Her mother, Martha, claims she alerted the coaching staff immediately, sending an email that included a note from her daughter’s doctor that stated Angie shouldn’t participate in any physical activity for an indefinite period.
“My focus was to get her back to health,” said Martha Vu, who added that she didn’t receive any reply from the coaches.
Angie said the sixth-period wrestling class was on her schedule on her registration date, but when school began, it wasn’t.
The family said it never received an explanation why Angie was left out of the class, which subsequently meant she was off of the wrestling team.
“I demanded a meeting through the district,” Martha said. “I was told they stood by the coaches’ decision.”
Martha Vu said she was told the decision was based on Angie’s “attitude and behavior.”
“They never gave me any support for their claims and reasons,” Martha Vu said. “They took away her opportunity and it is unfair.”
Martha Vu accused the school and the wrestling program of gender discrimination.
“I’ve come across many families with little girls that want to go into wrestling,” she said. “They’re interested in these programs and they’re not getting any replies from coaches.”
Fountain Valley coach Brad Woodbury did not respond to requests for comment.
In an emailed statement, Fountain Valley principal Morgan Smith denied any discriminatory actions: “All students are afforded the opportunity to learn and compete in an environment free of discrimination for any reason.”
Fountain Valley is expected to have one girl competing in its wrestling program this season.
Vu, who said she received an “A” in the wrestling class last year, said her attitude wasn’t any different than the typical 16-year-old wrestler that has to deal with school and competing in a sport.
“Every teen has an attitude,” she said. “I don’t recall having an attitude toward the coach. I’m not exactly sure (when) this attitude came out. They never told me anything was a problem. If anything, I wasn’t the only one complaining.”
Angie Vu joined the school’s wrestling team after a brief attempt to play water polo.
“I didn’t like it,” she said.
Her father wrestled at Fountain Valley and she became just the third girl wrestler in the program.
According to the CIF State participation census, girls wrestling received an increase by 48.1 percent (1,334 wrestlers) in 2015-16. By contrast, boys wrestling decreased by 8.96 percent.
The list of county schools without a girls wrestler seemingly gets shorter every year.
Mater Dei’s Luis Renteria has coached girls in recent years, and he acknowledges it can be a challenge for coaches and schools to adapt.
“I was a little hesitant at first because wrestling is very physical, but they knew what they were getting into,” Renteria said of the girls he has coached. “Anybody can wrestle if they put their mind to it, and everybody deserves the same time and effort, and by all means all the time we can give them.”
Angie Vu is looking forward to a new beginning at Ocean View, under Coach Nolan Johnson. She will be one of four girls on the team.
“I like the team and I feel welcomed,” she said. “I don’t feel like a complete outcast at the school because I’m new. I feel like I belong there and I’m thankful they're giving me an opportunity to pursue my dream.”
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