In the wake of Mitch Hull's departure from the USA Wrestling national staff after 20 years of service, USA Wrestling has made changes to the National Team Department's structure.
"It's never pleasant losing someone like Mitch. Although he will be missed, we're using this as an opportunity to better align the National Team Department's activities with the structure and staff in place to support them. The department has changed over the past 20 years - the competition is tougher and we're doing more than ever in an effort to develop the best athletes in the world," said Les Gutches, Associate Executive Director for Programs and Strategy.
Gutches will continue involvement in the State Services department, but with an increasing amount of his time directed towards National Teams administration. This move is consistent with USA Wrestling's efforts to integrate the grassroots and elite programs. Gutches will provide general oversight of the National Teams program, work with coaches to develop strategic and high-performance plans, and ensure U.S. athletes have the necessary resources to reach their potential at all levels of international competition.
"As I look at the program, it is evident there are two critical activities: performance and operations. We must have a strong High Performance Plan to identify and develop talent. But we also need the means to execute training camps, competitions, developmental programs, and maintain coordination with key partners such as the Olympic Training Center, Northern Michigan University Greco Roman program, and the many Regional Training Centers across the country," said Gutches.
In order to provide support in the areas of performance and operations, USA Wrestling will split these areas of responsibility between two National Teams managers. Cody Bickley, who has headed the National Coaches Education Program for the last four years, will provide support as the National Teams High Performance Manager and Jaimie McNab will serve as the program's Operations Manager.
"This is a truly unique circumstance where we are able to integrate existing skill sets into a newly-defined and improved structure. Both Cody and Jamie are perfectly suited to the roles they're taking. Jaimie has been working with the National Teams program for over ten years. She's moving into a supervisory role where her knowledge of USA Wrestling will be an asset to the program. Cody has experience as a college athletic director and wrestling coach. He knows how to manage multiple programs with complex budgets and his attention to detail is second to none," said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling's Executive Director.
Prior to Bickley joining USA Wrestling's staff, he served as the Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations for Fort Hays State University. He was an athletic department administrator there for nine years, and also served as a wrestling coach for Fort Hays State for 11 years.
"I am extremely excited about transitioning into the National Teams department. We are very fortunate to have a great staff and I look forward to working with them as we set our sights on this next quad and beyond. Being a part of this great organization and sport is an honor that I will not take that lightly. The bar is set high for USA Wrestling and we will do the work that is necessary to reach even higher," said Bickley.
Since joining the USA Wrestling staff, McNab has received a Master's degree in Sports Administration from the respected program at the University of Northern Colorado.
"I am excited about the opportunity and the restructuring. I look forward to working with Les and Cody. I believe everything will be more streamlined and efficient in helping our athletes. We are doing so much more than we have ever done before. We need to get our athletes out on the international scene, so they can grow and develop into the next Olympic and World medalists," said McNab.
While both Bickley and McNab will report to Gutches, they will in turn supervise National Teams Coordinators and interns who work with the coaches and individual teams on a daily basis.
"I'm excited about the new structure and I can't wait to hit the ground running. Les and I have worked in the State Services department since we arrived at USA Wrestling four years ago. This is a major advantage because it will help us ensure the grassroots and National Teams programs are coordinated as the organization grows," said Bickley.
Bickley's departure from the State Services Department means that USA Wrestling is looking to hire a new Manager of National Coaches Education.
"Cody will be missed in his coaches education role, but we're excited about the prospect of using this opportunity to bring another quality individual onto the staff," said Tony Black, Director of State Services for USA Wrestling. "The position is currently open and we are taking applications, as we understand the importance this position plays in the development of coaches and athletes nationwide."