A girl on the mat

Shiprock senior learns life lessons, aims for state


Special to the Times | Ray Landry
Shiprock’s Sapphire Williams attempts to escape from an Aztec opponent during the Garrison Spencer Memorial Duals at Shiprock on Jan.13.

When Sapphire Williams gave wrestling a two-year break she realized she simply could not quit.

Williams started wrestling when she was in the seventh grade but stopped then found her way back as a sophomore, and she hasn’t been able to let go since.

“I wanted to show that girls can get into the sport, even though it’s a predominately male sport,” she said.

Williams, a senior on Shiprock’s wrestling team, was inspired by former Shiprock wrestler Chasitty Todacheenie, who went on to become the only female wrestler for the University of Arizona.

“I kind of liked the idea of being in wrestling,” she said.

Williams gave it a try and found that not only was she good at it but she could be competitive.

Shiprock head wrestling coach Ben Frazier, who coached Williams since she first started wrestling, said she had a spark.

“I coached her since junior high when she first came onto the team,” he said. “Back then I have a picture of her when she was wrestler of the week for one week. She started off really good.”

But after only one season, Williams decided to give running a try.

She decided to focus more on cross-country and track and field. Then when her sophomore year rolled around wrestling called her name again.

“Wrestling was there and I just liked the team at the time” she said. “It wasn’t about competition, it was more of a family.”

She qualified for the state championship as a sophomore but fell short in the early rounds of the tournament.

Williams said she wasn’t trying to place at the state meet, but it was the beginning of a competitive streak.

“It just kind of happened,” she said. “It wasn’t until last year that I was trying to push myself into that position of competing at state.”

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Categories: Wrestling

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com or via cell at (505) 686-0769.