As winter athletes get excited for the start of their seasons, a new team will be preparing for their first season ever. In December 2021 Alma athletics announced that women’s wrestling would be added to the athletics program as the 28th varsity sport. With practices starting on October 10th, the wait is almost over for this new team to take their place at Alma.
The program will begin as a club sport for the 2022-23 academic year but will transition to a varsity sponsored sport in 2023-24. This addition makes Alma the fourth MIAA school to have a women’s wrestling program.
According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, “since 1994, the number of women who wrestle in high school has grown from 804 to over 28,000 (as of 2021).” The introduction of women’s wrestling at our school allows the opportunity for increased recruitment for girls who want to wrestle at a collegiate level.
Director of Athletics at Alma College, Sarah Dehring, announced Katlyn Pizzo as the first head coach of the new program in March.
In its first year the team will compete within the National Collegiate Wresting Association (NCWA). This is a non-profit association with over 150 wrestling teams and clubs from across the United States and Canada.
The team’s competition season will start on November 1st. As a club team, the program “can potentially wrestle anyone within the NCWA” said Katlyn Pizzo, Women’s Wrestling Coach at Alma College.
Our competitors for this season will likely be a wider variety of schools and may be teams we have never seen before. This will change when the team transitions to a varsity sponsored sport, however, and students may see some teams they are familiar with.
“We will wrestle within the MIAA conference and the NCAA. Making our conference competitors Adrian, Albion and Trine and our national competitors, all the colleges within NCAA divisions 1,2 and 3,” said Pizzo.
The MIAA and Alma athletics emphasize that student-athletes should be students first and athletes second. Athletes on our campus are expected to bring their all to practice and class. This will be no different for the new women’s wrestling team as they are “looking for good people that want to push themselves both academically and athletically,” said Pizzo.
This season will allow Pizzo and her team to lay the groundwork for future teams, but it will not be easy. “This coming year will set the tone for the future of Alma Women’s Wrestling team. We will demand hard work from our athletes both in the classroom and the wrestling room,” said Pizzo.
Sports teams often provide things beyond the sport, such as friendships, life skills and character building. A goal for this year is that “the team will develop a culture that cultivates resilience, hard work, love and support,” said Pizzo. This is especially important because “the athletes this year will be next year’s leaders.”
Like all new programs, the women’s wrestling team will take time to grow. “We will be working in preparation for the full recruiting class of student athletes coming in for the 2023- 2024 season,” said Pizzo. The upcoming year as a club team will allow the time to develop the program before it takes off as varsity sponsored.
Students who are interested in joining the women’s wrestling team should go to the Alma Athletics website and submit the women’s wrestling recruitment form. This will enter you into the recruiting portal for the program.