An Iowa high school wrestler qualified for the state tournament in his weight class. He had a 35-4 record for the season, but in his first round match forfeited his opportunity at a run at the state title. Why in the world would young Joel Northrup give up an opportunity at a state title? He passed it up because he refused to wrestle Cassy Herkelman, a young woman who had also qualified for the state tournament, stating his religious and personal beliefs forbid him from acting in a violent way towards a female.
At first glance, my reaction was “Are you kidding?” Why would you pass up an opportunity to win a state championship? Would young Mr. Northrup be embarrassed to lose to a girl in the state tournament? But the more I thought about it, the more I admired Joel’s decision. Mr. Northrup appears to be a young man who was raised right by his parents, and was taught from a very young age to be respectful to women. Those values of respect and decency to me hold a lot more weight than the opportunity to compete and win a state championship.
I’ve seen people respond to this article calling Mr. Northrup a wuss for refusing to face a girl. I disagree with that, and in fact admire his decision. If it was a team sport or a non-contact sport and he wouldn’t face Cassy Herkelman in a match, then I might agree with that assertion that he is a wuss. But because Joel Northrup is sticking to his values of not getting into a physical battle with a woman, I am hereby awarding him a Gold Star!
- Read the ESPN.com article here.
- Followup ESPN.com article with Herkelman’s reaction can be found here.
Edited Feb. 18, 2011.