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Two wrestlers battle it out on the mat at the USA Women’s Wrestling Nationals tournament in Spokane, Wash., on April 15, 2023. The Marine Corps' partnership with USA Wrestling started in 2017 as a way for Marines to develop new relationships with wrestling coaches. These partnerships ensure the coaches of the next generation of Marines are aware of Marine Corps opportunities, provide advocacy and support recruiter access to prospective audiences, which is critical to our nation's defense. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Levi Voss)

Photo by Cpl. Levi Voss

Marines Partner with USA Wrestling at Women's Nationals in Spokane

1 May 2023 | Cpl. Levi Voss Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Recruiting Command and USA Wrestling presented the 2023 Women’s National Championships on April 14, 2023, in Spokane. The three-day tournament is a part of the larger partnership between the Marine Corps Recruiting Command and USA Wrestling.

The event features over 1,500 athletes and more than 350 coaches. This event enabled the Marine Corps to connect with coaches to develop new relationships with them, as well as parents and athletes.

“The Marine Corps is proud to partner with USA Wrestling,” says Lt. Col. Thomas R. Dolan, assistant chief of staff, Marketing and Communication, MCRC. “We are especially proud to help grow the sport of women’s wrestling and hope to strengthen relationships with the American people and showcase the Marine Corps’ purpose, values, and service opportunities.”

Coaches and athletes from all over the country connected with Marines at various touch points like the coach’s social and at the Marine Corps engagement booth. This provided coaches the opportunity to talk with Marines about shared values between USAW and the Marine Corps.

According to Jerry Best, head wrestling coach at Allen High School in Allen, Texas, the opportunity to connect with the Marine Corps is appreciated because many of his wrestlers share the same ethos as the Marines. This partnership provides a vessel by which the opportunities and benefits of the Marine Corps can be conveyed to coaches and parents of potential Marines.

“Obviously, we can’t wrestle our whole lives,” says Rich Bender, the executive director of USA Wrestling. “I like to think the partnership with the Marine Corps provides an opportunity for a young wrestler to develop some skills and traits that they could take into the Marine Corps and be great leaders for the rest of their lives.”

The event also reinforces the exponential growth that women’s wrestling is experiencing in the U.S. since the first funding of a women’s team in the world championships in 1989, according to Bender. In 2004, women’s wrestling was added to the Olympic program, springboarding the opportunities for both genders to participate in the sport of wrestling. Aided by the over 30,000 USA Wrestling women members, USA Wrestling has seen a record 75,000 members in the last month alone according to Bender.

“The great thing about the growth of women’s wrestling is that there’s no difference in terms of intrinsic benefits that the sport brings to both men and women,” says Bender. “We are sure that, one of these benefits is the values of the wrestling world and the values of the Marine Corps align. So that, same as men, women that participate in the sport of wrestling would make great Marines also.”

Bender explained that many of the same characteristics it takes to be successful in wrestling are the very same characteristics that it takes to be a successful Marine.

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