Western New England University Set to Launch DIII Women’s Wrestling Team
SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Athletics at Western New England University (WNE) recently announced 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 Assoc. (NWCA) Executive Director Mike Moyer is excited about the addition of the program to WNE. “We are forever grateful for the pioneering efforts of Western New England University to add women’s intercollegiate wrestling to its athletics program,” he said. “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 Mike Sugermeyer, head coach for men’s wrestling, 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 Lori Mayhew-Wood, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. “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.”
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,” he said. “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.”