The University of Winnipeg athletic department will be adding a wrestling program to their family of teams in the fall of 2011.
In addition to the men’s baseball team starting up next fall, there will also be men’s and women’s Wesmen wrestling teams.
The University of Manitoba ended their program in 2004, and since then Manitoba has been the only province within the Canada West Conference of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) that has not had a varsity wrestling program.
“As with any team we add, it has to make sense for the University of Winnipeg,” athletic director Doran Reid said. “Wrestling is an Olympic sport that does not have that elite university program in our province.”
Currently, the University of Winnipeg athletic department is working with the Manitoba Amateur Wrestling Association (MAWA) to help promote, organize and develop the Wesmen wrestling program.
The University of Winnipeg athletic department is excited about the addition of the wrestling program.
Reid said the program is being designed to work with younger athletes.
The university is looking forward to the opportunities the varsity program will create for all levels of athletes, from university and high school students to inner city community members.
“The Manitoba Amateur Wrestling Association has been very supportive and helpful,” Reid said. “They, like us, believe in programming for the elite athlete, but are also doing good work in the community and the inner city with programs like the one at the Freight House.”
The athletic department is currently still in the process of hiring a coaching staff for each team, but Reid noted that Tonya Verbeek and David McKay, both qualified coaches, have shown interest.
Verbeek, who was a silver medalist at the 2004 Summer Olympics in freestyle women’s wrestling in the 55kg category, is currently an assistant coach for the Brock University wrestling program.
McKay was also an Olympic athlete, and is now a part of the Canadian National Olympic coaching staff. Originally from Manitoba, McKay is also a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
While the Wesmen program begins interviewing for the men’s and women’s wrestling coaching staff, the University of Winnipeg will prepare to host the 2011 Canadian Olympic wrestling trials from Dec. 15 to Dec. 18.
Reid believes the buzz about the trials should generate a lot of positive attention for the Wesmen program.
“We look forward to really kicking off the (Wesmen) program by hosting the Olympic trial event in December this year,” Reid said.
Published in Volume 65, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 24, 2011)