#WrestlingShirtADayInMay founder Jim Dutrow (photo courtesy of Jim Dutrow)
"If this is something small that can help, I'm obviously happy to do it."
If you've been on the wrestling side of Twitter sometime in May over the last three years, you've probably seen #WrestlingShirtADayInMay at least once. This hashtag has given wrestling fans a chance to support their favorite programs, athletes, and events. Even some of the biggest names in wrestling have hopped on the trend like Dan Gable, Jenna Burkert, and the Dan Gable Museum, but the team probably having the most fun with it is Cal State Bakersfield. While a fun way to share your teams and favorite wrestlers with the community, the meaning behind the hashtag goes deeper than many people realize.
When Jim Dutrow learned that Old Dominion's Athletic Director was adding their program to the running list of cut Division I wrestling teams in the midst of a battle to save Stanford's team, he decided that the wrestling community needed to come together. Dutrow was on James Madison University's team when the administration first proposed its termination in 2000 and watched as it was finally eliminated in 2007. He couldn't sit idly by and watch this happen to more and more programs so he went to work to start a movement.
#WrestlingShirtADayInMay was created to appreciate the schools with wrestling and show the administration that the wrestling community is a loyal one. In 2021, #WrestlingShirtADayInMay was flooded with "Save Stanford Wrestling" t-shirts with a favorable decision coming from Stanford's administration in mid-May, which may or may not be credited to the pictures of t-shirts on Twitter. Wrestling fans have also gotten behind some new programs, especially Roanoke College's new team, making it #5 in the final 2021 rankings and the team has already had an impressive showing this year. As a program that just got their go-ahead in April of 2020, they have had a huge support system largely due to their involvement in #WrestlingShirtADayInMay by offering shirts to anyone who made a donation. This got their name and logo out there so wrestling fans can already support them.
This isn't to say that #WrestlingShirtADayInMay is immune from the team rivalries these fans know and love so much. In fact, Dutrow tried to use this to his advantage by leaning into those and asking in the days leading up to May questions like "Which Ivy League is going to have the most impressive showing?" One of the more competitive teams in college wrestling caught wind in 2020 that Virginia Tech was in the lead, which led to a flood of Hawkeye fans advertising their shirts using the hashtag to take the lead. Based solely on the main colors in the stands at NCAAs, it would be easy to assume that schools like Iowa, Penn State, or Oklahoma State are the clearcut winners every year but this isn't the case. In 2021, the winning college was The Citadel. Arguably, they're also one of the teams that has the most fun with it. Tournament season is such an emotional time and #WrestlingShirtADayInMay gives wrestlers, fans, and teams a chance to have fun with some lighthearted competition.
If you look closely at numbers and Twitter presence, those who support #WrestlingShirtADayInMay, usually do better in its rankings. Jenna Burkert is an active athlete who is a huge supporter of the trend and she took first in the individual rankings last year and is leading again this year. Gardner-Webb coach, Daniel Elliot, is another big supporter and last year, Gardner-Webb offered free shirts to the first five people to make donations to their program during their annual day of giving and they have had an impressive showing along with the rest of the SoCon. Basically, if you want to win, you should support the movement.
Even high school teams have gotten in on the competition. Hillcrest High School came in first last year, which was closely followed by Bellevue High School and Greenville High School. This aspect of #WrestlingShirtADayInMay is part of what makes this trend and this sport so special. There is room for everybody. Any college or community that supports wrestling deserves to be celebrated.
This social media movement has only been active for a short time but has grown to include other smaller trends such as #BloodroundPoundDown, a hashtag promoting a healthy lifestyle and losing weight during the month. This partnership with #WrestlingShirtADayInMay is all about donating money to a program in need. In #BloodroundPoundDown, teams or individuals pledge to donate $1 for every pound lost as well as a $5 buy-in, and the team with the highest percentage of weight lost wins. Most wrestling fans are content with the satisfaction of winning and the bragging rights, but the winners also get to choose what program receives the money generated through #BloodroundPoundDown and the proceeds of the new #WrestlingShirtADayInMay shirts.
While Dutrow had high hopes for the movement, he didn't know exactly where he wanted it to go, only that it continued and grew. This hashtag has brought so many different fans together and has really helped people look at and support schools in other conferences. You can simultaneously be a Penn State fan but also be a part of the #SchwabMob, the most important aspect is that you support wrestling and loudly at that.
If you want to add to your wrestling t-shirt collection but don't know where to start, you can visit #WrestlingShirtADayInMay's growing database