College sports clubs

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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I recently received a telephone call from Sacramento State’s club wrestling coach August Wesley. I met Wesley when we were both attending the Mark Fuller Invitational wrestling tournament in Lincoln. I was covering the event for the newspaper, and he was looking for potential Sac State wrestlers. Wesley informed me his team had done very well this season and had two wrestlers in the finals to be held in Florida. Sacramento State University no long carries wrestling and hasn’t for almost 30 years. The ever-present problem of shrinking budgets inevitably leads to the trimming of certain extra-curricular activities. High schools are well aware of this problem and a number of programs have slipped into obscurity over the years. Unfortunately, some sports are expensive to operate. And those with limited fan bases don’t bring enough money at the gate to sustain them. That means a certain number of athletes, some outstanding in their respective fields, have no where to go after graduation. Sac State wrestling suffered that same fate and Hornets wrestling faded into the past. That is until recently. One intrepid Sac State student, and prep wrestler, decide to try and bring back wrestling to the Sacramento campus. His name is Michael Contreras. A few years back, when he was just a freshman, Contreras set out to form a wrestling club to give those Sac State students who were wrestlers a new home. Sacramento State is a great school for those student/athletes who do not win scholarships to the larger colleges and universities able to financially sustain the programs in which those athletes excelled. The club was formed so former wrestlers could come together to continue their sport on a more intramural basis. The enthusiasm on campus began to grow and before long they formed an alliance to represent the green-and-gold in intercollegiate competition. The club raised money through fees, donations, and fundraisers and before long had enough to hire a coach of Wesley’s stature. Wesley had coached 11 international teams and was a member and medalist of the U.S. International team in 1999. “This is our second year of having a competitive team,” Wesley said, adding that the area’s top wrestlers would likely go on to bigger schools but for many the Hornets’ program would be a good alternative. “Sacramento State is a viable option for (others) to go to a university,” said Wesley. In fact, Sac State has a number of school affiliated clubs, including badminton, tennis, cycling, rowing, rock climbing, skiing and snowboarding, and many others. The clubs are open only to Sac State students. Since these clubs are largely self-supporting they don’t offer scholarships like those of official school sports but many do have assistance programs for their participants. As the clubs rise in competitive prominence the more support they attract and that can mean more student help. Wrestling as a club member at Sac State may not be a prestigious as an athletic scholarship to UCLA or Stanford but it does offer an opportunity for a great education.