The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Ferrum brings back wrestling with Yetzer at the helm|
Monday, July 9, 2012
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
FERRUM -- Ferrum College has entrusted the growth of its newly-christened wrestling program to a mentor with NCAA Division I experience as a competitor and as a coach.
Nate Yetzer, who spent the last six years at Virginia Tech on the staff of Hokies mat boss Kevin Dresser, was introduced as the Panthers' head coach Friday during a press conference at The Hank Norton Center.
This is Yetzer's first head coaching job, but his pedigree not only includes the years he spent in Blacksburg, but his four-year career as a grappler at Edinboro (Pa.) University where he won matches in the NCAA Division I national championships and garnered All-America accolades.
Ferrum is bringing wrestling back to its intercollegiate athletic roster after an absence of almost 25 years. During the upcoming academic year, the Panthers will compete as a club team. But in 2013-14, the college's centennial year, it becomes Ferrum's 17 intercollegiate sport.
Like recent sports additions men's lacrosse and women's swimming, wrestling will compete as a Division III independent because the USA South Athletic Conference, Ferrum's league affiliate for the majority of its sports, does not sponsor wrestling.
Ferrum and Washington and Lee University in Lexington are the only Division III schools in Virginia with wrestling programs. Nationally, 89 Division III schools field wrestling teams, and that's the most of the NCAA's three divisions.
Yetzer said the idea of building a program from scratch appealed to him.
"I'm ready to dive right in. I wish we wrestled tomorrow, but thank God we're not because we don't have a team yet,' Yetzer said.
"I wanted to find a (position) that was a prefect fit for me and my family. This is perfect because we love the area. This (position) had all of the things that I wanted,' Yetzer said.
"I feel like I'm ready. I was offered a couple of head coaching jobs (both college jobs in Ohio) last year, but I did not feel like I was quite ready,' Yetzer said.
There was a short window between the time Ferrum posted an opening for a head wrestling coach -- the date was June 19 -- and Friday.
"I had heard about three months ago that Ferrum was possibly going to start wrestling. Then, I heard they may not, so I started applying for some Division I assistant's jobs and other Division II and III head coaching jobs. Then, Kevin (Dresser) called and said, 'Ferrum is moving forward, they're doing it,' "So then, we came out here and met Gary Holden (Ferrum's assistant athletic director), Abe Naff (Ferrum's athletic director) and Dr. Braaten (Ferrum's president). It was that fast,' Yetzer said.
"Nate has lots of positives, and (at Virginia Tech) he got experience in southwest Virginia. He knows the high school programs and their coaches. I think he going to able to jump in right away and get things going,' Dresser said.
Yetzer said in terms of recruiting, he wants to hit all of the sport's "hotbeds" hard.
" I have an idea what I'm looking for (in terms of recruiting),' Yetzer said.
Recruiting locally and regionally will be a key he said as will finding talent from southern states like Florida where there is no college wrestling and in traditional areas such as his native Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he competed as a collegian.
Wrestling has been a gender-equity casualty at numerous colleges, but Naff said such will not be the case at Ferrum which he said meets two of the the criteria that comprises federal Title IX legislation. It's required that colleges only meet one, Naff said.
"On the women's side, we've made our volleyball coach (Jessica Flanagan) fulltime; we've added women's swimming; we've added full-time assistant coaches in women's soccer and women's lacrosse,' Naff said. "Down the road, as soon as the NCAA makes competitive cheerleading a certified sport, we're adding it.'
Naff said Ferrum is considering the future additions of women's golf, field hockey and track and field, which is co-ed.
"Track and field and field hockey are facility driven. Women's golf and competitive cheerleading, we can start tomorrow,' Naff said.
With the USA South expanding its geographic footprint into Georgia (Piedmont College and LaGrange College this year and Covenant College in 2013-14) and Tennessee (Maryville College) this year and Alabama (Huntingdon College) next year, increased travel becomes an issue that all of Ferrum's sports teams must face.
"With wrestling, we'll have a few meets here, but we'll have to travel to dual and tri meets and tournaments. It's like our golf team. We want our golf team to be in the best tournaments around,' Naff said. "We want to compete with the best and we're going to do the same thing with our wrestling program.'