BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Bristol, Virginia athletic leaders were happy to announce the shattering of a new barrier within their system on Thursday by introducing Cassidy Ferrell, the new head of Virginia High School’s (VHS) wrestling team.

Ferrell, who started her career on the mat at 7 years old, got used to competing with boys rather quickly in her hometown of Woodlyn, Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania’s a little different because they don’t have sanctioned girls teams,” Ferrell said. “So it’s kind of similar to Virginia where we’re not at that level yet. Hopefully, we get there one day.”

Photo: WJHL

The few chances Ferrell got to compete against other girls were at the national level, and she was happy to get the chance. At the collegiate level, Ferrell wrestled at Campbellsville University in Kentucky for two years and then later transferred to King University to finish out her degree.

Her coaching career began in the area, with stints at Tennessee High School and Richlands High School before landing the head coach position at VHS.

Ferrell said she has several goals for the program, including claiming state titles, but running a program that turns students into good citizens is just as important as the awards they earn.

“I think my biggest strength is being able to create relationships with these kids,” Ferrell said. “Yeah, obviously I want kids to win state medals, be a state finalist, be a state champ, and I would love to win the district eventually. All those things are fun and well and good, but at the end of the day that’s not really what’s most important to me.

“I really want these kids to be decent human beings. I want somebody to look at them and say they’re not just a good wrestler, but they’re good human beings.”

Bringing unique perspectives to the table will play a big part in Ferrell‘s playbook, from being one of the few women in the sport to being a non-native to the region.

“Anybody can do this,” Ferrell said. “Even though it’s a predominantly male-dominated sport, that doesn’t mean that a female can’t take a head coaching role, whether it’s at a middle school, high school or college level. Wrestling is wrestling, and if you’re experienced and know what you’re doing, it’s going to show. I hope that me taking this role gives other people the confidence to do the same.”