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SanctionPA is a nonprofit organization working to grow participation opportunities in the sport of wrestling and have high school girls wrestling approved as a sanctioned sport in Pennsylvania. The SanctionPA campaign includes advocacy efforts, education resources, promotional materials, and collaboration with schools.  


What Does SanctionPA Do?

  • Educate coaches, administrators, and community members on girls wrestling

  • Collaborate with individual schools to form official girls’ teams

  • Develop and provide resources to schools and coaches to develop girls’ teams

  • Help coordinate competition opportunities for girls and girls' teams

  • Advocate for girls wrestling as an official PIAA Sport with a PIAA State Championship and act as a liaison with the PIAA to support sanctioning efforts

Why SanctionPA?

Girls wrestling is the fastest growing high school sport in the country. Mirroring the national statistics, Pennsylvania high school wrestling has experienced over a 200% increase of girls participating in wrestling on the high school level in the past several years and all 12 PIAA district areas have girls participating in wrestling within their area schools. In February 2022, girls wrestling was granted Emerging Sport Status by the PIAA. This indicates that girls wrestling has a clear plan and path for being a sanctioned sport by the PIAA. For girls wrestling to become sanctioned in PA, the PIAA requires that 100 member schools form official girls’ teams and compete in 5 competition points.

Adding girls wrestling teams at the high school level, and sanctioning the sport on the state level, can have enormous benefits for schools and athletes. First, adding girls wrestling increases the number of winter sport options for girls - currently, there are 6,000 fewer opportunities for girls in the winter. By adding girls wrestling, schools can increase their winter sport offerings by 25%. Looking at the number of girls coming up through the elementary and middle school system is another reason to support girls wrestling at the scholastic level - so that these girls will have teams to wrestle on and an official sport to be a part of. Girls wrestling also helps address diversity, equity, and inclusion and provides more opportunities for girls of all backgrounds, sizes, and abilities to participate in a school program. Adding girls wrestling also increases post-secondary opportunities for girls. There are currently over 115 colleges that have women’s wrestling with 9 being in the state of Pennsylvania. Impressively, wrestling ranks 2nd among all sports for producing 1st generation college students.

Sanctioning would further grow participation numbers in PA - states that have added girls wrestling have seen incredible growth, sometimes as high as 400% in one year, just by providing an official opportunity for girls to participate in the sport and to wrestle and compete against other girls. Every sanctioned state has seen a marked increase in their female wrestling participation numbers.

Adding girls wrestling will also help support the long-term sustainability of boys and men’s wrestling and can be a protective factor for the sport as a whole. 


Background and Stats on Girls Wrestling​

  • There were over 34,000 high school girls competing in the US in 2021-2022

  • The majority of states have sanctioned girls wrestling at the championship level. Some states have had girls wrestling sanctioned for over two decades. More states are adding every year

  • Pennsylvania high school wrestling has experienced over a 200% growth of girls participating in wrestling on the high school level over the past several years

  • All 12 PIAA district areas have girls participating in wrestling within their area schools

  • In the 2021-2022 season, there were over 300 girls participating on PIAA JH teams

  • In the 2021-2022 season, there were over 550 girls participating at PIAA high schools

  • A non-PIAA affiliated state tournament for girls has been held since 1999 and hosted by PA USA Wrestling since 2012

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