was an exciting summer for women’s wrestling.
As I mentioned in previous posts, more females are assuming leadership
roles, college programs are adding women’s wrestling as a varsity sport and
females participating in wrestling in the US is higher than ever. I’m excited about these changes and I believe
women’s wrestling is “on the right path” to growth and international success.
the US men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman teams were unsuccessful in earning a
medal at the World Championships for the first time since 1974. Many athletes, coaches and fans are
discouraged by the outcome and are beginning to question the “path” that our
international athletes and/or USA Wrestling are on. In the wake of all of the accusations and
attacks, I think it’s important to point out what the women’s side of wrestling
is doing and why I think the women are on a path to much more international
success in the very near future.
This group of athletes
loves to wrestle! I have a renewed sense of joy and love for
the sport of wrestling after a weekend with our female athletes. They love to train and compete. The sport is still very new to them. I believe joy and love are the two most
important motivating factors on earth.
It seems as if there is a shift in motivating factors with many of the
male athletes that is closely associated with winning medals and earning
money. The top women are competing (and
having success) because they enjoy what they’re doing.
The national team
system is focused on development. Terry Steiner and Coach Izzy do a wonderful
job at developing the Cadet and Junior level athletes to compete at the
international level. They already have a
lot of things on their side, such as more focus on freestyle (less on
Folkstyle) for young athletes, females are physically able to compete with
senior level athletes much sooner than men, etc. Nonetheless, they place a keen focus on
developing these athletes for future international success.
The national team
staff is tangible to youth athletes. The pool of athletes is much smaller than the
men’s side, no doubt, however, most of the female athletes at the various
girl’s national tournaments know Terry Steiner and Coach Izzy personally. Not only do they know them, they see them at
their events. It’s invaluable for those
young female athletes to know the individuals they aspire to be and have
opportunities to work with them. On
several occasions, the junior development camps are held alongside national
We’re one team – Team
USA. Obviously, the domestic competitions are
fierce and personalities are not always eager to work together. However, in the end, it is one team. I see USAW and the national team staff turn
to grassroots members, college coaches and club coaches for input. It’s almost as if people are uniquely
positioned to challenge the leadership to help the program grow. As a result, when it’s time to represent the
country, everyone is on the same page because they have fought for common
The women’s national team training model, including the things mentioned
above, is proven to be successful with the current depth in the US. The athletes train together regularly (iron
sharpens iron) and our 2nd and 3rd athletes are as good
as our number one on any given day. This
year, all seven world team members had potential to earn a medal at the world
championships. Not all of them did. What’s unique about the women is that there
were 2-3 athletes at each weight class that would have had the same realistic
chance at a medal and in some cases, a better chance.