For want of a shoe…a wrestler was lost.

Lack of adequate gear is a major roadblock for middle school students trying the sport for the first time. All too often, financially challenged families cannot afford wrestling shoes. To keep kids on the mat, many middle school coaches provide “loaner” shoes to young athletes in these circumstances – frequently paying for the shoes, and other equipment like headgear and kneepads, out of their own pockets. At schools where a high percentage of the student body receives free or reduced lunch, loaning shoes can be a financial burden on the coach.

We received our first request for help with shoes in October, 2015. Written in 2016 here’s what the coach said after we sent him the 7 pairs he requested:

"Shoes that made a difference’ are the words I used to thank Wrestling for Life for the donation of new wrestling shoes. I have coached the last 8 years at a Jr. high school, where every year I have young kids trying wrestling for the first time, and every year we have a few kids that do not have shoes. This last season the need was even greater, and that is when I turned to Jim Brown and Wrestling for Life, within days I received new shoes in the sizes needed. The effects of receiving new shoes was immediate, it was not just the smiles alone, but the confidence, attitude, and self-esteem that was gained. So truly it was shoes that made a difference. I am a proud supporter of Wrestling for Life.”

Ken Mirocha
Sudlow Intermediate School
Davenport, IA

The program has grown since then and in 2018 we sent over $10,000 worth of shoes to schools from Alaska to Florida and Arizona to Maine. Our goal is to at least double that amount in 2019. If you think your school qualifies for FREE shoes, email us at