After three long years of struggling to get into a conference, the FAMU wrestling club has broken down the barrier wall for affiliation in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
“We missed a lot of high school players because not everyone plays football or basketball,” said Club Adviser and Head Coach Thomas White. “So hopefully being in this conference will help with our recruitment.”
This is the club’s third year on campus. The first year it was just an intramural club under the Intramural office. In its second year, the group of about 25 members received a waiver for conference play in order to prepare for its official entrance into the NCWA.
The NCWA is the sister conference to the NCAA and has been in existence for eight years. It was created to house teams from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and North and South Carolina because Title IX took away many of the smaller sports. The conference consists of teams already in the NCAA such as Pembroke State, Pensacola Christian College and other smaller schools.
“In this conference, we also will compete against other schools in the NCAA,” said second vice president Toks Adebusuyi,19, sophomore veterinary medicine student from Miami. “There will also be other HBCU’s.”
Currently the wrestling squad is partly under Intramural and partly under the athletic department. It receives money through the office of Student Activities, but is still able to compete in an official conference.
“We will hopefully be moving under athletics soon,” said White. “These guys have high GPA’s and dedicate a lot of time, so they deserve the same opportunities [as other athletes].”
In order be considered a part of the athletics department, the wrestling team must look for sponsors and grants to fund their trips and other expenses. Currently they “have no one in particular but we’re looking for anybody with a good name brand like ASICS to pay for shoes and bookbags” said Adebusuyi.
Robert Carroll, Jr, Director of Campus Recreation and White are the team’s sponsors. T.C.W. Associates, ASICS and Wal-Mart are the business sponsors.
To kick off the team’s first year in the NCWA, the wrestlers participated in their third intramural tournament Oct. 11. At the match, Hubert Poulard and Desiree Abrams were named the Most Outstanding Wrestlers. Adebusuyi and LaRoy Harris were given the Best Match award, while Delvin Mays was named Most Persistent.
Their next tournament is tomorrow in the annual Pensacola Christian College Tournament. There they will go against other NCAA and NCWA teams.
“We all have high expectations going in there, but we have a lot of new wrestlers so it will be a challenge for them,” said treasurer Jude Moreau, a 20-year-old sophomore economics student from Orlando.