On Sunday, March 21, 2021, the referee raised Kennett High School freshman Haylie Jaffe’s hand high above her head. She was victorious! As the 2021 Pennsylvania High School Girls State Wrestling Champion, Haylie’s tireless efforts over the past two-and-a-half years had finally paid off. Roll the clock back just two years and four months ago, and Haylie was a kid who thought wrestling was “only for boys” as she remembers it now. She’s obviously proven herself wrong.
Haylie’s path to the podium at the State Championship is an important story about family support and personal faith. After her brother mentioned an interest in wrestling, Haylie’s father suggested that maybe she, too, should give the sport a try. At first, she was hesitant, thinking, as mentioned above, the sport wasn’t for her. But with the support of her family, Haylie gave it a shot and hasn’t looked back.
In her time on the mat, she has found a new sense of confidence that compels her to dedicate much of her free time to the sport. While some typical high school students may be relaxing with friends on a Friday night, Haylie is at the gym. Some days she puts in upwards of five hours of training between high school practice, CrossFit, and local area club teams. She’s relentless, eager for success, but always focuses on having fun.
Last year, during her second full year of wrestling, Haylie showed a lot of promise, but she acutely remembers an evenly matched competition in which she was defeated in double overtime. It was a narrow loss that really could have gone either way. Yet, rather than wallow in defeat, she pushed harder and looked to seize the opportunity for victory. Then, on the afternoon of the state tournament, Haylie won four consecutive matches and fate gave her a chance to redeem herself against the same opponent. As the whistle blew to kick off the final match for the state title, Haylie knew what she had to gain – not just a title, but validation of all that she had worked for. Then, after three rounds, Haylie rose from the mat victorious by a 16-2 margin. Haylie was a champion, and so were those around her as Haylie acknowledges that her support is in large part due to the support of her teammates, coaches, and her father.
As she peers into the future, Haylie’s goals extend beyond the mat. She looks to continue wrestling throughout high school and college but is hopeful to help grow the sport of women’s wrestling. As far as we’re concerned, she’ll accomplish anything she sets her mind to; she’s clearly no match for anyone.