Wednesday was “National Girls and Women in Sports Day”, and one of the biggest focuses has been on the largest expanding female amateur sport: wrestling.
The NCAA tweeted statistics to support the claim.
Several other studies shows girls participation has been growing, while boys are on the decline. According to the Statista.com, young female wrestlers more than doubled since 2010.
The growth has also been seen on the college level, as we have seen universities across the country start women’s programs, with four more teams being added for the 2018-2019 season.
On the forefront of help growing the sport is “Wrestle Like a Girl”, who has seen national coverage as of late, including an appearance on “Megyn Kelly Today”.
We talked to founder and executive direct Sally Roberts this past week about her organization and expansion of girls interest in wrestling.
Why the sudden growth? Roberts explained to us several factors have contributed. The addition of Olympics gained a national governing body for the sport, and an organized system to foster competition. Many predecessors, who were wrestling on boy’s teams, have shown girls that the sport is accessible. The pioneers also act as mentors to these girls. Finally, the popularity of MMA. Many girls look up to athletes like Ronda Rousey and Sarah McMann, and see wrestling as a base to start their training in the sport.
While this is great news, Roberts states their work is far from over.
The organization has a four pronged plan to keep the sport growing and help encourage girls to take up sport.
“Number one, we wanted to tackle the lack of opportunity”, Roberts told us. “Among girls trying to the boys’s teams, we have seen more drop versus a team with several girls, or all girls. We have started clinics to get girls interested. We just hired a national director of programs who will expand these events.”
“Second, we are looking to sanction in all 50 states. Six states currently have state or divisional championships, and under our “State 44″ initiative, we are petitioning states that currently don’t have them. New York has already connived a committee to consider it; with other states having the numbers to follow suit.”
“Third, we are looking at the affordability of wrestling on a collegiate level. Wrestling is a true blue collar sport, and right now, only private schools have the capability to add teams. With inclusion in the NCAA, state universities can bring programs, and draw more student athletes.”
The organization has already petitioned the NCAA for inclusion last year, and will pursue the NAIA soon after the NCAA does add it.
“Fourth, we are looking to get more female coaches. We have started a coaching development program to help gain more experience for those interested in pursuing coach, especially when the demand will only increase in the coming years.”
As for their goals in 2018?
“We want 5,000 more girls taking up the sport, and get two states sanctioned this year for high school divisions.”
Wombat Sports will be in Oklahoma City all weekend for the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association’s tournament. Action starts Friday and we will have live coverage over all our social media platforms and on the website.