Promoting Girls Wrestling | the How To Guide
Written by Rebecca Li
Seeing a wrestling room full of girls is every girl wrestler’s dream. To build up a girls’ team and expand girls’ wrestling at your school, there are promotion strategies and techniques you can use. I will use my experience this year to illustrate how various strategies worked out, and hopefully, this can be a good motivation to have you take action at your school as well.
Recruiting more girls — or wrestlers in general — varies between different places. For me, I was in a public high school in California. It was only recently that there were any girls on the wrestling team. We practice under the boys’ team, thanks to the Title IX provision. However, there have never been more than three girls at my high school, EVER.
As a captain and senior, I wanted to make a change. In this article, I will explain what steps I took to grow the girls’ team by 400%.
To build a girls team, more girl wrestlers are obviously necessary; yet at the same time, having a prominent girls’ wrestling status and more team members significantly increase the chances of more girls signing up and sticking with the team. This is similar to the chicken and the egg paradox.
Once a girls’ team is established, the momentum will help carry it forward, and the knowledge of a girls’ wrestling team will keep drawing more in. The hardest part is starting. Therefore, you need to keep this in mind and not become discouraged in the beginning. Yes, even if there is only one girl on the team currently, it is possible to expand and build the team if you are dedicated and willing to put in the work. But what strategies do you use to put in that work?.
My Marketing Strategies
PA daily broadcast: Most middle and high schools have a morning or afternoon announcement that all students are forced to listen to. I took advantage of the ones at my school by submitting an announcement message.
The result of putting an audio announcement up for two weeks was quite amazing. There are many people who want to join wrestling, but they just didn’t know that our school had a wrestling team, or that it’s open for girls. After my announcement went up in September, we had a spike of both girls and boys joining our team. It’s all about exposure and making sure that people know wrestling is an opportunity for them, no matter their gender.
Word of Mouth: Ask your friends to try out girls’ wrestling. I also recommend expanding your reach by asking girls who are in your class and those you know who are in a sport from a different season (i.e. wrestling is a winter sport for my school, so I asked the cross country, field hockey, which are fall sports).
The key here is to not be afraid of putting yourself out there! Talk about why you personally enjoy wrestling, what lessons you learn, and the amazing opportunities you have. When you’ve got a few girls on the team, ask the new ones to also invite their friends. It is more likely that they will stay if they have a friend on the team.
Whether through word of mouth or school announcements, the content of the marketing message is key. For example, I had to make it really clear where the wrestling room is because it is hard to find. I included which region of campus it’s in, what landmark building it is next to (i.e. gym, weight room), and which classroom it is next to.
Next, I included a practice schedule in the marketing message. This will reduce the friction of, say, needing to check on a website or having to email a coach to find it. Lastly, I had a call to action in my message. I made it clear that we are making history by building the first girls’ wrestling team at my school.
Here is the marketing message I had submitted to the school’s audio announcement:
The [insert school name] wrestling team is inviting athletes to join us for the winter wrestling season. We are looking for dedicated students who are open to learning. No prior experience necessary. All weight classes and body types are welcome. We are especially looking for girls of any grade to join us. Girls wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation. Join us as we build the first-ever girls wrestling team on campus!
Practice is Monday and Wednesday from 3:30 to 5:30 pm and Tuesday and Thursday at 6-8pm. The wrestling room is on the east side of campus, it’s room 115 next to the ceramics room. Wear workout clothes and bring a water bottle.-Rebecca
Tips and Tricks
Wear wrestling merch- try to wear any merch you have that allows people to know that you are a wrestler. If possible, also ask other girls on your team to do the same. On my team, 2 of the girls joined the team because they noticed the wrestling logo on my teammates’ leggings. Sometimes, that is all it takes to tell people that there are girls on the school’s wrestling team.
Always have an experienced girl in practice: For me and my experienced teammate, we always make sure that at least one of us will be at every practice. Whether there are other girls in practice can make or break a new girl’s experience in their first few practices. It’s also good to pair new girls with other more experienced girls when possible. Remember to always have patience when working with new wrestlers.
Be ready to talk about girls’ wrestling. I used to be somewhat shy about wrestling (*sigh* insecurities *sigh*). But to expand the girls team, I made sure that I was ready to talk to anyone about girls’ wrestling — You are an ambassador of girls wrestling at your school.
Next Steps after Getting the Numbers
Though my school’s girls’ team has a lot more sign-ups, we still have a lot more work to do. Training and making sure the new members stay in the team requires both good communication and the building up of team spirit.
I’ve also been encountering some challenges with attempting to get an official girls’
wrestling team stipend from the school districts. If anyone has any advice or experience with establishing a sanctioned girls’ wrestling team at a high school, please let me know.
Some Other Promotion Strategies
Due to limited time and energy, I wasn’t able to implement all the marketing initiatives that I had initially wanted. I wanted to make a video with footage of girls’ wrestling practice and matches to put on the school’s weekly video announcement. I also wanted to make some posters to put around the school. In the spring, I would like to visit our middle schools to attempt more recruitment.