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USAW Women’s Freestyle Education Program to transition to Colorado Springs next year

USA Wrestling has announced that its Women’s Freestyle Education Program will relocate to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the 2012-13 academic year.

Since 2004, the program has been located at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., as part of the U.S. Olympic Education Center program there. The program has played an important role in the development of women’s freestyle athletes to compete for the United States on the Olympic and World level. Currently, the USOEC women’s freestyle program includes 14 student-athletes, who are coached by USOEC Women’s Head Coach Shannyn Gillespie. A number of athletes from the current USOEC women’s freestyle program will be selected to train as part of the U.S. Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete Program in Colorado Springs, Colo. and continue their education at either the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) or at Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC). Student-athletes not selected for the opportunity with the U.S. Olympic Training Center resident program will have other options, including staying at Northern Michigan, moving to Colorado Springs, Colo. as a facility-use athlete and attending college there, or transferring to another college, including those which have women’s varsity wrestling programs within the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA). USA Wrestling will assist all current USOEC women wrestlers in pur-

suing their options.

“UCCS looks forward to working with USA Wrestling and see- ing how we can meet the educational and training needs of their elite student-athletes,” said Brian Burnett, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. This decision is separate from any program decisions regard- ing the men’s Greco-Roman program at Northern Michigan University.

The changes in the women’s freestyle program have been developed through extensive input from USOEC administration, Coach Gillespie, USA Wrestling national staff and others. With the move of the women’s freestyle education program to Colorado Springs, as well as a commitment to strengthing the women’s developmental program, USA Wrestling is in the process of developing a job description for a coach to handle that responsibility.

Opportunities for women wrestlers to receive an education and pursue elite wrestling have expanded considerable since the USOEC program was created in 2004. At the time, college wrestling options for women wrestlers were very few. Women’s wrestling was a perfect fit with the USOEC alongside with other Olympic sports without college athletic opportunities such as weightlifting, boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling and speedskating. Currently, there are as many as 20 college programs offering varsity women’s wrestling teams.

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