Jamesa Robinson is a “Swiss Army knife” of a softball player.
Those are the words of Robinson’s coach, Anthony Minus. The polite, soft-spoken Patrick Henry High School senior wouldn’t brag like that, but there’s no arguing that someone who’s played outfield, shortstop, catcher, and pitcher is down to take a swing at new challenges. Maybe that’s why Minus reacted the way he did when Robinson, also a standout on the school’s volleyball team, said she wanted to find a non-basketball winter sport.
Minus suggested wrestling. Robinson didn’t bat an eye.
If anything was strange about Robinson joining the wrestling team last year, it was how normal everyone made it. Teammates, classmates, family members—no one discouraged her. Probably because they already know her.
Robinson, who competed at 120 pounds last year, is short but powerful, muscly but flexible and light on her feet—all good traits for her new sport. Her main weakness was that she didn’t know how to wrestle.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” she admits. “But I was confident in myself and learned as the season went on.”
Coming from sports with short, active bursts followed by breaks, Robinson had to adjust to the physical toll wrestling took. Practices are grueling, and Minus says she hit “a hard patch” at one point last year and considered leaving the team. But she didn’t quit, and Minus recalls an instance later in the season when the mild-mannered rookie dispatched five teammates in a row.
“[Robinson] is incredibly coachable,” says Minus. “She had to get used to the contact in wrestling, but she fends for her own.”
That showed in matches like one against a boy from Washburn High School. Aside from three years of varsity experience, the opponent had a huge height and reach advantage, and Robinson had to make him battle at her level.
“I kept thinking about yanking him down, and I tried to keep a strong grip on his head,” she says.
She won by pin, one of a handful she notched on her way to a 14-16 record. Minus credits Robinson’s decision to join the team with motivating another girl to wrestle, and says he never worried about her ability to adjust.
“She is 100 percent herself and doesn’t change to be what someone expects her to be,” he says. “That’s helped her in sports, but also in the school itself.”
If she can, Robinson will keep competing in all three sports in college. She’s still making up her mind about where to go, and says she’s considering a career in medicine or midwifing.