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District 11 girls wrestling: Parkland’s Sylvyn Parham, Danica Butch part of something special

Winning was Danica Butch’s major focus when she wrestled.
That changed at practice two years ago when she heard a pop in her back.
“I couldn’t move a lot,” Butch recalled.
The Parkland senior also remembered what her father said to her in the emergency room later that day: “No more wrestling.”
A cracked vertebrae left Butch in a lot of physical and emotional pain. She thought her career was over, a career that started as a freshman when she followed her older sister Georgi.
“I had a hard time accepting that for a long time,” she said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to do it for a while. Then I realized I did. I love it here, the people. It’s like a family.”
Butch and Parkland coach Anthony Shave convinced Michele and Tony Butch that it was safe for their daughter to return to wrestling. The 17-year-old missed half of her junior season while completing physical therapy, but she’s been happy to be on the mat ever since.
Butch is part of a girls program that is among the state’s most stable and successful. Parkland last week won the inaugural EPC girls wrestling team tournament title. Butch and her teammates have many goals for the individual postseason in the first year of girls wrestling being sanctioned by the PIAA, the state’s governing body for sports.
The first sanctioned postseason begins Sunday at the District 11 tournament at Easton Middle School.
“I watched my sister at states when it was at Gettysburg when I was in eighth grade,” Butch said. “There were only two mats. Now it’s become such a big thing. Now there are district and regional tournaments you have to qualify through.
“Knowing I’m a part of that, I take a lot of pride in that.”
Sylvyn Parham was cross country teammates with Emerson Slaughenhoupt, who encouraged Parham to join the wrestling team.
Parham enjoyed running but sought more. She found it in the wrestling room as a sophomore for boys and girls head coach Jon Trenge.
“I came in and was hooked,” Parham said. “I felt very empowered. I gained a ton of confidence in myself. The sport became enjoyable because I was able to push my body past the limits.”
Butch, Parham and Slaughenhoupt have been teammates the last three seasons. They are part of a senior class that has been instrumental in the growth of the sport at Parkland.
Its roster has grown each season. So, too, have the friendships. Butch had her sister and Parham already was connected to Slaughenhoupt. But the roster was not a collection of friends trying a sport. It was a sport providing an opportunity for relationships to develop and flourish.
“The coaches have had a huge part in bringing us together,” Parham said. “They helped initiate relationships and navigate each other as well. We are trying to learn how to express oneself, to come out of our shells. They have pushed us out of our comfort zone to partner up with someone we don’t know. Because of that, we’ve formed bigger, stronger relationships.”
Trenge stepped down as the boys and girls head coach after last season, but the programs were on solid ground. Shave came aboard last season and felt fortunate to walk into such a healthy environment.
Shave wasn’t tasked with changing the culture. He only had to keep things rolling.
Parkland was 7-2 in dual meets this season, then crowned four individual champions and won the team title at the inaugural EPC tournament.
“I was a brand new coach two years ago,” Shave said. “Seeing the numbers grow from six to 18 to 42, it’s a testament to the impact of just getting things started. Our secret weapon is Coach [Carlos] Montes in junior high. That [girls] program has gone from two to eight to 16 in three years.
“Having momentum creates more momentum. For me, it’s been fun.”
Parkland’s progress was acknowledged when it was included in a dual-meet event last month at Cumberland Valley High School. Eight of the state’s best girls teams were invited, including EPC rival Easton. Parkland finished fourth, losing to Cumberland Valley and Gettysburg.
Parham’s goals for herself evolved as she’s grown as a wrestler and person. She expects to be competing at the state tournament next month in Hershey.
The 19-year-old’s confidence was tested after she suffered ankle and elbow injuries in the offseason.
“It was hard to get over, to get myself over the fear,” she admitted. “I was scared to compete again, scared [the injuries] would happen again. It got into my head.
“I was overthinking things in the first half of the season. I was thinking, ‘This person is bigger than me. This person is stronger than me.’ I coped through meditating, breaking through the barriers of my own mind. Wrestling helped me become mentally stronger.”
Parham is 19-7 this season, including a third-place finish at 112 pounds at EPCs.
Butch was fourth at 130. She is happy with that result, an attitude she didn’t have when she first started. But her re-start after the injury changed her approach.
The senior is thankful for the second opportunity to be a part of the Parkland program.
“I think I’ve gotten more competitive,” Butch said. “I had expectations of myself before, but now I’ve got the support of more people and there is more competition as the sport has evolved.
“The sport is so difficult, but because we’ve come together, worked together, survived together, when we face a challenge, when we’re all struggling, we can lean on each other for support.”
Neither Butch nor Parham enjoy the spotlight. Talking in front of a crowd is not Butch’s favorite thing. Taking the mat alone terrified Parham.
But both have found solace in the circle. They can thank themselves for taking the biggest leap of all —into the Parkland wrestling room.
They can thank each other and the rest of their teammates for giving them the courage to take center stage to compete.
Their experiences the last several years, regardless of the outcomes of their matches, have been painfully rewarding.
Morning Call reporter Tom Housenick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or at
Inaugural District 11 Girls Wrestling Championships
When/where: Sunday at Easton Middle School
Schedule: (Session 1) 9:30 a.m., preliminaries; 11, quarterfinals plus first- and second-round consolations; 2:30 p.m., semifinals and third-round consolations followed by fourth-round consolations; (Session 2) 6:40, 1st-, 3rd- and 5th-place matches
Weight classes (for the 161 entrants from 24 schools): 100, 106, 112, 118, 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, 155, 170, 190 and 235 pounds.
Tickets: $7 per session. Spectators 65 years of age and older are admitted free with proof of age. There are no refunds for any reason. Ticket link:
What’s next: Top three in each weight class advance to the Southeast Regional tournament, which is Sunday, Feb. 25, at Quakertown H.S.
Source: Morningcall

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