University of Great Falls to Add Women’s Wrestling in 2017-18
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – As the first step in President Anthony Aretz’s vision for big, bold, and fast growth for Argo athletics, the University of Great Falls has announced the addition of women’s wrestling to the school’s list of varsity sports for the 2017-18 season. The program will be the first of its kind in the state of Montana and joins a wave of support for women’s wrestling that has made the sport the fastest growing in college athletics.
“Over the past five months, the university, and specifically Dave Gantt, have been looking into the best ways that athletics can grow and help the school bring in more new students,” University President, Dr. Anthony Aretz said. “Women’s wrestling is the right beginning to that effort. It is a team that we can add immediately and effectively, and will put us in a position to succeed in a sport with rapidly increasing popularity.”
Adding women’s wrestling will be the beginning of an effort to grow the university’s enrollment both through general admissions and through athletics. While all sports are on the table as options for the growth of the athletic department, this particular program proved to be a logical first step due to its logistical and financial feasibility.
In its first year, the program plans to draw 20 new students to the UGF campus followed by five in each of the next two years. While adding revenue to the school, the expenses can remain relatively low due to the infrastructure already in place for UGF’s nationally ranked men’s wrestling program.
Of Argo wrestling’s 11 dual opponents on the 2016-17 schedule, 6 already have women’s wrestling programs and many of which are regional opponents. The two teams will be able to travel together for most contests, bringing to a minimum the effort and cost of scheduling opponents and making travel arrangements. The university’s recent 5-year lease of an off-campus building as a new wrestling facility will also provide ample practice space for both a men’s and women’s wrestling team.
UGF’s Head Men’s Wrestling Coach Caleb Schaeffer, now in his 13th year, will continue to serve as the head coach for the men’s team while overseeing both programs as director of wrestling. The university will then hire a Head Women’s Wrestling Coach to work with Schaeffer, allowing the new program to take advantage of Schaeffer’s wealth of knowledge and connections in the wrestling world while still allowing him to focus on the men’s program.
UGF will join the swelling ranks of colleges to add women’s wrestling. Since the event became a sanctioned Olympic sport in 2004, the sport has grown rapidly in the United States and Team USA has become an international power. There are currently 44 colleges nationwide that feature the sport, with the NAIA leading all associations with 18 programs. According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association there are over 7,000 young women wrestling at the high school level across America.
The University of Great Falls is excited to be on the forefront of this growing sport, particularly in a state and locality with a rich history of wrestling excellence.
“This community has become a wrestling powerhouse at both the high school and collegiate level, and we’re proud to add women’s wrestling to that lineage,” UGF Vice President for Athletics David Gantt said. “This school and this department have an eye for significant growth over the coming years and this is a strong start.”
Courtesy: UGF Sports Information