It is more difficult for students preparing for college to find wrestling scholarships than it is for other athletes. There are fewer schools with wrestling programs and therefore fewer awards are available. The competition is tough for boys and girls. The number of student wrestlers grows year by year, especially in girls’ programs. Sponsorship opportunities and grants remain difficult to find. When looking for college scholarships, female fighters in high school should pay attention to colleges that are developing their programs and that have the appropriate academic major of interest.
In many cases, women still face the difficulty of overcoming the stigma that it is a boys ‘sport and may find it difficult to be accepted by some coaches or schools on a boys’ team. This means that girls who want to pursue a wrestling future in college and earn wrestling scholarships must prove themselves both on and off the mats. Using universities that host female athletes is an easier path to participation and funding. Decent grades, good physical condition, a solid track record, school spirit, and a capable personality are traits that will attract the attention of a scholarship committee. The number of girls who want to fight has grown exponentially in the last 25 years. The United States Girls’ Wrestling Association (USGWA) had 247 young women compete in its first national tournament, held in 1998. There are now more than 6,000 competing in the national tournament. The 2004 Olympics gave a recognizable boost to interest in the sport when women’s wrestling was officially added to international competition.
To be noticed
For coaches and committees considering eligible team members and selecting recipients of girls wrestling scholarships, there are several ways students can help themselves get noticed. Participation in wrestling tournaments at any level is helpful, with video footage and newspaper clips included for demonstration. Letters of recommendation from coaches and teachers are important endorsements.
Attending summer wrestling camps is a definite way for athletes to be noticed by coaches and athletic directors. Girls as young as high school age can participate in camps designed to help them improve technique, conditioning, and knowledge. In this environment, they can train with other girls of the same weight category, age and skill level, something that many local programs lack due to the smaller number of female participants. Standing out at camp can help students get on the radar for potential athletic scholarships in college.
For young women in high school hoping to pay for college, local business sponsorships and grants are possible. Gyms can sponsor young wrestlers for local, state and national competitions. A growing number of gyms, sportswear, and fitness centers are sponsoring women. Before accepting any aid, students should verify these rules with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), rather than jeopardizing eligibility.
There are many colleges and universities that actively recruit female fighters to strengthen their teams. They are offering scholarship opportunities for those who enroll as freshmen, but also for transfers. This is an opportunity for boys with lower grades to improve them to 3.0 or higher at the local community college, and then apply for girls wrestling scholarships as sophomores.