BANGOR, Pa. – This weekend across Pennsylvania were the high school wrestling championships. Simultaneously in Northampton County, there was a local tournament for elementary schoolers where the unlikeliest of competitors was looking to make history.
Amongst the 34 finalists at the Valley Elementary Wrestling League Championships were 33 boys and Hailey Mintz.
“I didn’t think I’d make it this far cause last year I took fifth,” says Mintz.
But don’t let the nine-year-old’s blonde hair and blue eyes fool you.
“I like going against the boys and like beating them up,” says Mintz.
“She’s feisty,” says Hailey’s mom Paula.
Feisty enough that only three years ago her father Stu decided to trade Hailey’s pom poms and modeling career in for some wrestling tights.
“He calls me and he’s like I’m signing her up with Tyler. I was like absolutely not. No way. But low and behold she was a natural at it and she kicked butt,” says Paula.
“It’s a daddy’s girl. She’s my life. So watching her at first getting run over her head or slammed on the mat you get nervous in the beginning and they you just start to understand it’s just part of the sport,” says Hailey’s dad Stu.
At first, the girl from Bangor faced some adversity.
“She had boys that would forfeit their matches to her because they didn’t want to wrestle her because she was a girl,” says Paula.
“A lot of times, the boys they underestimate her or they don’t want her to fit in cause she’s girl and now she’s being respected by everyone out there for what she’s doing,” says Stu.
What she’s done is remarkable. In March, she became the first girl to win a Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling title. Entering Sunday she was also undefeated and the VEWL’s number one seed and first girl to ever make the finals.
Before her match, she and the 33 others were introduced in a ‘Parade of Champions.’ Mintz was also given a standing ovation for her VEWL feat she already accomplished.
Just as she was about to start her match, Stu whispered in his daughter’s ears and asked her, “Do you want this? How bad do you want it? You go out there and you get it.”
After three solid rounds, she made history!
The crowd and the rest of the Mintz family were ecstatic. Hailey hugged her dad as he told her, “I’m so happy for you baby. So happy for you. God am I happy for you!”
Hailey won the 46-pound division and stood atop the podium with the boys looking up to her.
When asked how she felt, Hailey said “It feels amazing.”
Her mother Paula says she was “very proud, proud. That’s the biggest word I can say proud.”
To add to the Mintz’s great day, Hailey’s brother Tyler also accomplished a personal best by making the finals for the 54-pound division.