Eubank
Eubank

SHIPPENSBURG -- "Rocky" fans may find it hard to believe, but boxing isn't just a man's sport.

Women's boxing was included in Olympic competition for the first time in 2012, and Toni Eubank, vice president of the Shippensburg University Boxing Club, hopes that it inspires other women to join her in the ring.

"I hope that more females decide to check it out," Eubank said. "It's fun."

A senior at SU, Eubank played volleyball at West York High School but wanted to try something different in college. When she found out about SU's boxing club, it didn't take her long to sign up.

"The reason I joined was to learn self-defense," she said. "I played volleyball back in high school (and middle school). I played for six years. But I didn't want to play college volleyball. My major is exercise science. I've always worked out, trying to stay in shape, but you kind of lose that drive when you don't have a coach there."

Eubank, who joined the club last year, said that she didn't know much about boxing at first. But she said it was relatively easy to learn, and now boxing is in her blood.

"I didn't know how to throw a jab or a cross," she laughed.

Over the summer, Eubank trained at Lincolnway SportCenter, a gym near her York County home that offers programs for all levels, amateurs to professionals.

Eubank said that boxing is physically demanding but calls it "an awesome experience."

Practices and matches provide a complete workout, she said, adding, "It's more than just throwing punches."

There are currently about 30 students, including three other women, on the SU Boxing Club, according to Eubank. The other women are Emily Appleman, a sophomore who is also returning, and first-year boxers Drew Ceneviva, a junior, and Shannon Reilley, a sophomore.

Competition will start in January and all fights are sanctioned by the National College Boxing Association. SU's Home Show will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, in Henderson Gymnasium, and about 20 matches will feature boxers who have been national champions or All-Americans.

Eubank said she had just two matches last year, but "hopefully this year there will be more girls who want to fight in the ring."

Nevertheless, she said she is fortunate to have the opportunity to be on a boxing club because, "Shippensburg is actually one of the first state schools to have one."

Eubank plans to keep boxing after graduating from SU this year. She said she was inspired by the two female boxers, Claressa Shields (gold) and Marlen Esparza (bronze), who won Olympic medals.

"The girl that won the bronze this year was in my weight class," she said. "She's an idol to me, so who knows -- one day, maybe I'll train for the Olympics."