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Shenandoah University adds men's wrestling program

WINCHESTER, Va. -- Shenandoah University announced Monday that it has added men's wrestling as its 22nd intercollegiate athletic program.

Shenandoah AD Bridget Lyons announces addition of wrestling
The team, which will compete in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center and practice in Shingleton Gymnasium, is scheduled for its first season of competition in the fall of 2020.

It is expected that at capacity the team will have 30-35 members by the 2021-22 season.

The addition was assisted in large part by a generous donation from Rob and Gene Frogale, the owners of Annandale Millwork & Allied Systems. Rob Frogale is currently the Vice Chair of the Shenandoah University Board of Trustees and Gene Frogale is a former collegiate wrestling champion.

"We believe that wrestling is going to provide another reason for young men in the Shenandoah Valley to continue their education here at home," said President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D.

"The opening of the Wilkins Center gives us the ability to add the sport as we have an outstanding competition venue that has already proved popular with the wrestling community."

Opened in January, 2018, the Wilkins Center has hosted one youth wrestling tournament and university officials intend to host additional meets in the near future.

Prior to the university deciding to add wrestling as its 11th men's sport, athletics department officials visited both Ferrum College and Averett University on fact-finding missions.

"We learned a great deal from our trips to Ferrum and Averett," Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bridget Lyons said.

"I would like to thank the administrations and coaching staffs at both schools for opening up their facilities and spending time with us to discuss how to most successfully add a program.

"The knowledge we gained was invaluable in this process."

Wrestling is the first sport added at Shenandoah since women's golf in 2015 and the first men's sport since indoor and outdoor track & field (both men and women) were elevated to varsity status in 2009. The last men-only sport added at SU was the football program in 2000.

The university has conducted a national search for the head coach of the men's wrestling program and the process is nearly concluded. Upon successful completion of human resources paperwork, the university will announce the program's first head coach.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why wrestling?

The sport is very popular in the northern Shenandoah Valley and the university's proximity to high school wrestling hotbeds in Pennsylvania and Ohio make this a natural fit. The James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center provides an outstanding venue for dual meets and tournaments.

What about women's wrestling?

In June, 2019, the NCAA recommended women's wrestling as an emerging sport in all three divisions. As the NCAA moves toward a final determination regarding the status of women's wrestling as a championship sport, Shenandoah University will assess the student body's interest in, and the viability of, women's wrestling as a varsity sport.

What are the Title IX implications?

Shenandoah University is committed to ensuring our athletics programs meet the interests and abilities of our students. The university has 11 women's varsity sports, with three added in the past 10 years. In the coming months, the athletics department will undertake efforts to gauge and assess student interest in prospective sports at Shenandoah to ensure that the university is accommodating the interests and abilities of our student population.

Who will the team compete against?

ODAC members Ferrum and Washington & Lee, as well as Southern Virginia and Averett, provide opponents from within the commonwealth of Virginia. There are 16 additional schools within a four-hour radius of Winchester to provide ample competition opportunities.

Will the university pursue a conference affiliation?

At this time, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference does not sponsor a wrestling championship. Washington & Lee is an associate member of the Centennial Conference and Ferrum competes in the Southeast Wrestling Conference. Following the addition of a head coach, the university will take a closer look at this issue.

How many coaching/staff positions will be added?

In addition to the head coaching position, a full-time assistant will be added when the roster size grows sufficiently. It is also expected that additions in athletic training, strength and conditioning and athletic communications will also take place to further support the entire athletics program.

What, if any, infrastructure improvements are needed?

After the purchase of mats, the Wilkins Center and Shingleton Gymnasium will be competition- and practice-ready. A locker room in Shingleton is slated to be renovated in order to house the team on a day-to-day basis.

Timeline of university-era sport sponsorship additions:*

1991: Women's Soccer
1993: Men's Lacrosse
1995: Women's Lacrosse
1997: Men's and Women's Cross Country
2000: Football
2003: Field Hockey
2009: Men's and Women's Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field
2015: Women's Golf
2020: Men's Wrestling
*Year indicates first competition date

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