Toska Adams: The Journey is Never Over, Giving Back to the Sport of Wrestling

Wrestling provides so many avenues for giving back. Have you considered officiating after your competitive career is done?It's important for women and girls to know there are other opportunities for them to stay in the sport of wrestling even if its not coaching or competing. Many women started in the sport through roles which supported the tournament organization. Becoming a head pairing master was a coveted role and one held by women ( and men) at the local, national and international level. This person was responsible for hand writing the brackets, recording the wins/loses, determined who would wrestling who in consolations, wrote out the bouts and sent them to the mats as needed. This was before we had technology like TrackWrestling to run our tournaments. The idea of women being on the mat was a different story entirely... for competitors and for referees. Toska Adams has been changing that mind set at the same time many of us have been pioneering women competing. Today, it is not as rare to see a female referee. This is thanks to hard work and pushing boundaries by women who wanted the roles as referees. Now Toska has the opportunity to show other young women finishing their career competing the possibility of raising hands of our sports future greats. 

How Toska became a referee 

My son began wrestling in Middle School. When we began freestyle season, we would travel around the state to different tournaments. Since he was a schoolboy heavyweight, we would often drive 2-3 hours for him to only wrestle 1 or 2 times. Some of my friends invited me to get involved with running the tournaments. I tried pairing for one year, but that was not for me. The next year I decided to start refereeing. That was over 20 years ago.

Why other's should referee 

Anyone male or female can become a referee. Contact referees in your state and find out what tournaments they are going to and ask if you can go along. If you are not sure who to contact, please email me, and I will get the information for you. Women now have the same opportunities as men to officiate wrestling due to the speed in which women’s wrestling is growing.

When I found out I was selected as USA Wrestling Women of the year at Fargo was great. When I was elected by my fellow officials to the USWOA board. Its amazing to meet again wrestlers who have grown up and tell me that they have family pictures with me raising their hand. During the past two years, countless people including coaches, parents and wrestlers have come up to me and tell me how much they missed me officiating and they are all glad I returned. Wrestling is about the people!

How has it impacted your life?

When I became a FILA (now UWW) official, I had the opportunity to travel overseas a number of times. One of my favorite tournaments I traveled to several times was the all women’s tournament in Sweden. I have also traveled all over the United States to tournaments. Because I am a teacher, during the summer I have been able to combine sightseeing with my travels to tournaments. My favorite memory is the year I traveled to the women’s college duals in Iowa. The first day of the tournament was my birthday, and the girls sang happy birthday to me while they were warming up.

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Do not let ANYONE tell you that you cannot officiate wrestling. There are still people that believe women should not be part of wrestling. They are wrong! I have always worked very hard and learned as much as I can to continue to improve and be a better official. I found that to be equal, I had to be better.


Toska Adams has been officiating freestyle, greco and folkstyle for over 20 years. She has traveled to Kiev, Sweden, and Poland to officiate for Team USA. She currently holds the position as treasurer for Kentucky USA Wrestling. She was awarded Women’s Developmental Person of the Year and USA Wrestling Woman of the year in 2014.

To get in contact with Toska to learn about your opportunities to become a wrestling referee, email her at toska.adams@jefferson.kyschools.us.