Graphic and official release courtesy of Western New England University.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (August 23, 2021) – The Western New England Athletics Department is excited to announce the addition of women’s wrestling come the 2022-23 school year.
“Women’s wrestling continues to grow across the country and starting women’s wrestling is a great opportunity to provide an equal opportunity for young women who aspire to wrestle at the highest level,” said Lori Mayhew-Wood, the Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. “As the Senior Woman Administrator, I am excited to be able to offer other opportunities to women in sports. I am excited to be able to offer this opportunity 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 women’s wrestling program will plan to start its inaugural season in the fall of the 2022-23 academic year with head men’s wrestling coach Mike Sugermeyer, tasked with recruiting the first official class this year. The University will hire a head women’s coach prior to the start of the 2022-23 academic year. This will be the University’s 21st varsity sport.
The 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,” said Moyer. “This new women’s wrestling program represents the FIRST NCAA DIII affiliated team in New England University. 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.”
There are currently only 25 women’s wrestling programs at the NCAA DIII level and Western New England University will be the first in Massachusetts compared to the 140 high school programs in the state. 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.
The two-time Olympian alumus, Rodney Smith, was also enthusiastic when told 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 Western New England University 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.