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West Valley City Journal

Wolverines wrestlers receive grant for new equipment, uniforms

Jul 28, 2017 01:38PM ● By Greg James

Hunter wrestling head coach Terry Allen and his team receive a check from California Casualty as part of a grant program. (Hunter High School)

The Hunter High School wrestling team recently received a grant designed to financially help student athletes.

“California Casualty has been supporting educators for more than 65 years and we understand the correlation between participation in sports and higher performance in the classroom,” said California Casualty senior vice president Doug Goldberg in a press release.

The Wolverines head coach Terry Allen accepted the award May 19 at a special school assembly celebrating all of Hunter High School student achievements. The wrestlers plan to use the money to improve their program.

“Terry is great at all of that. He focuses on the viability of the program,” assistant coach Derrick Jensen said.

The California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant will help athletes in 79 public schools in 33 states gain a competitive advantage. A total of $83,000 was given to help middle and high school programs across the country purchase equipment, improve player safety and offset participation fees.

The program is named after California Casualty Chairman Emeritus Thomas R. Brown, an avid sportsman himself. Since its inception in 2011, more than 500 schools have received over $580,000. A selection committee reviews all applications to determine award recipients.

Hunter received $1,000 they can use for equipment and new uniforms. Allen applied for the grant in January. 

It is designed to help educators in economically challenged areas. Many school districts around the country are experiencing financial reductions to their sports programs. CNBC estimates that by 2020 nearly 20 percent of high schools will not offer sports.

The goal of California Casualty and other big businesses is to get kids playing sports again. They believe it can change students’ lives and lead to opportunities off the playing field. Many athletes find that the only way they can afford college is by playing sports. The business sector support of interscholastic athletics hopes to increase college graduates in the long run.

The Wolverines experienced an increase in the number of wrestlers this season according to Jensen. In 2015, the number of wrestlers increased to 45, a 300 percent increase from the year prior. 

Antonio “Rat” Ruiz won an individual state championship for the Wolverines in 2016. The growth of the program contributed to his individual success, Allen said, and he hopes it continues. 

The grant money is needed to buy new headgear and uniforms for the team. The Utah High School Activities Association has adopted a rule change for the upcoming season, allowing for an alternate two-piece uniform.

An alternate uniform can now be worn in high school matches, replacing the traditional one-piece singlet. The new uniform consists of compression shorts and form-fitted compression shirt designed for wrestling. The committee approved the use of the new uniform in hopes of increasing the number of boys and girls participating in the sport after getting favorable comments from schools, students, coaches and officials.

“I hope this will reduce barriers to entry for interested participants. Anything to grow the sport of wrestling is a good thing in my opinion. It teaches kids great life skills and gives them a model for succeeding in life,” local wrestling assistant coach Gardner Wheeler said.