You don’t have to be blue-chip recruit or a state champion to earn a scholarship to grapple at the next level. If you want to improve your chances of getting recruited, follow this advice from two prominent college wrestling coaches, Brian Smith of the University of Missouri and Jack Spates of the University of Oklahoma.
Take the initiative
A strong trend among college programs is getting athletes to sign early, so it’s important to not wait around for your name to be called. “Never assume you’ll be recruited,” says Smith. “Some kids assume coaches will call them, but the reality is that there are fewer programs than good kids.”
Make a list of the schools you’re interested in and initiate contact. Write a letter, send e-mails and make phone calls. “Tell them you are interested in their wrestling program as well as their academics,” Smith says. “We’ve recruited some kids just because they kept showing interest and really pushed themselves on us.”
Cut the highlights
Film is important. Most coaches want to see entire matches, and some even prefer to view an entire series of matches from tournaments. Most important, coaches want to see you challenged. “I want two or three of [an athlete’s] most competitive matches—even if one’s a loss against a highly ranked opponent—because I want to see how he wrestled in a loss,” Smith says. When sending film, be sure to include whom you’re wrestling against, what school and state you’re from and the color of the singlet you’re wearing.
Showcase your skills
According to Spates, the number one thing an athlete can do to get more exposure is to compete at tournaments, such as the Cadet Nationals and Junior Nationals. It shows a strong work ethic and commitment to excel in the sport. He says, “I look for the blue-collar achiever who has that passion and dream to be successful. We’ve had a lot of success with guys who were not supposed to be big-time athletes, but came with big-time dreams.”