SPRINGFIELD, MA (08/25/2021) The Department of Athletics at Western New England University (WNE) is excited to announce the addition of women’s wrestling to its athletics program. This will be the University’s 21st varsity sport and the first NCAA DIII women’s wrestling team in New England.
National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Executive Director Mike Moyer is excited about the addition of the program to Western New England University. “We are forever grateful for the pioneering efforts of Western New England University to add women’s intercollegiate wrestling to its athletics program,” said Moyer. “This new women’s wrestling program represents the first NCAA DIII affiliated team in New England. With the exploding population of young aspiring girls who are wrestling in New England, the WNE women’s wrestling program is uniquely positioned to be wildly successful in this endeavor.”
The women’s wrestling program is planned to begin its inaugural season in the fall of the 2022-23 academic year with Head Coach for men’s wrestling Mike Sugermeyer tasked with recruiting the first official class. The University will hire a women’s head coach prior to the start of the season.
There are currently only 25 women’s wrestling programs at the NCAA DIII level. WNE will be the first in Massachusetts compared to the 140 high school programs in the state. “Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. Starting the women’s wrestling program allows us to provide an equal opportunity addition to young women who aspire to compete at the highest level,” said Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Lori Mayhew-Wood. “I am excited to be able to offer other opportunities to women in sports at Western New England and for the University to have the opportunity to recruit nationally across the country to build the women’s program.”
The NCAA DI, DII, and DIII membership approval of Emerging Sport Status for women’s wrestling was granted in 2020. The NAIA hosted the first national invitational during the 2018-19 season and the inaugural NCAA National Invitational was hosted in March 2020 at Adrian College in Michigan. The NCAA National Invitational is an All-Division National Tournament for DI, DII and DIII.
Two-time Olympian and WNE alumnus, Rodney Smith, was enthusiastic to hear about the addition of the program. “What an amazing opportunity for wrestling and our local scholar-athletes here in New England,” said Smith. “This move is timely and on the pulse of history. Coach Sugermeyer’s focus and due diligence has added to our infrastructure, wrestling culture and tradition. He truly carries the torch for the future of WNE wrestling. I definitely feel that torch has been raised higher and shines brighter than ever today.”
The Golden Bears are excited to bring this opportunity to young women in New England and pioneer the way for more programs to follow. For more information visit the WNE Golden Bears website.
Western New England University (WNE) is a private, nationally, comprehensive institution with a focus on preparing work-ready and world-ready graduates. Founded in 1919 in Springfield, Massachusetts as a division of Northeastern College, WNE’s 215-acre suburban campus serves more than 3,700 students, including over 2,500 full-time undergraduates. More than 47,000 alumni have earned degrees through its 90+ undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs at Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and School of Law. Students come from 39 U.S. states and territories and 23 countries. Of 44,486 living alumni, 30% remain within the region, residing in the four Western Massachusetts counties and northern Connecticut.
WNE is classified among nationally ranked universities in US News and World Report, and among the Top 100 Undergraduate Engineering programs, and in the Doctoral/Professional Universities category in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. WNE ranks fifth in the country and first in Massachusetts in job placements of its graduates.