USA Weightlifting (USAW) has approached hundreds of athletic directors of institutions affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as it continues efforts to grow weightlifting on college and university campuses.
This month, USAW contacted 297 athletic directors to gauge interest in supporting the national governing body’s desire to be named an emerging NAIA sport.
To earn that designation, weightlifting needs a minimum 15 club or varsity teams at NAIA-affiliated institutions.
Eight NAIA-affiliated institutions carry club or varsity weightlifting.
"An essential part of our mission is to grow the sport of weightlifting," said Suzy Sanchez, USAW’s director of grassroots programmes and scouting.
"We hope this outreach will show ADs (athletic directors) around the country just how valuable weightlifting can be to their athletic programmes."
In the US, one in three athletes drop out of weightlifting by the time they reach 18.
These athletes typically opt for other sports that can present them with scholarships and competitions at collegiate level.
By becoming an NAIA-emerging sport, USAW claims it can "greater interface with and retain youth athletes and USAW-affiliated coaches by creating more scholarship and competitive opportunities at collegiate level".
"We hope to continue to grow the sport of weightlifting," Sanchez added.
"Once we earn the emerging sport designation, we can progress to, hopefully, one day becoming an NAIA championship-level sport."
USA Weightlifting and five other national governing bodies – USA Rugby, USA Cheer, USRowing, USA Bobsled and Skeleton and USA Triathlon – are in the process of hosing six cross-sport events at universities in the country in an effort to expand their talent pools.
Each "Team USA Pro Day" is free to participate in and features athletic testing to include sprints, jumps and skills tests.
Scouts from each national governing body are on hand to identify potential talent in their respective sports.
There have already been stops at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on April 13, the Northern Michigan University on April 27 and the University of Montana yesterday.
The next one is due to take place at Baylor University in Waco, Texas on Sunday (May 5).