Photo courtesy of MartialArtsNomad.com / Flickr

Slowly but Surely, Wrestling is Making a Valiant Return to The Heights

Perseverance. Dedication. Rewarding. Courage. Relentless. Heart. Fun.

These are just a few of the buzzwords some of the leading advocates for a new club on campus came up with to describe the sport they love: wrestling.

Sitting down with Jesse Shea and Sam Goldsmith, '16, Stefan Gooch, '17,  and JJ O’Donnell and Dan Marino, '19, it is evident how passionate and committed they are to rebuilding a wrestling presence on the Heights.

Boston College’s varsity wrestling team was fazed out over a decade ago, leaving a void to be filled by former high school wrestlers looking to continue a sport they know and love.

“When I heard BC didn’t have a wrestling team, I really wanted to look to do something to create something in the community focused around a sport I love,” said O’Donnell.

Shea, Goldsmith, and Gooch have been trying for a couple of years to get something off the ground, but after teaming up with Marino and O’Donnell, it appears they have found a winning combination to gain some momentum.

At present, the team is a bit in limbo with their specific status here on campus, as it has not been formally accepted as a club sport. The application process not only takes time, but also requires an active roster of at least 35 students, an active competition schedule, and, specific to wrestling, approval from the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA).“For us, that is challenging because it's difficult to set up matches if you aren’t NCWA approved, and if you aren’t NCWA approved, then you aren’t approved by your school, so it's a catch 22 for us unfortunately,” said Gooch.

In addition to the difficulties fulfilling the requirement with certification and scheduling, there is the challenge of funding. The team has not yet officially sought out club sport status because the BC committee currently lacks the resources to be able to welcome another club sports team.

Club Baseball was in a similar limbo a few years ago. The team practiced and competed at the club level, without the formal designation or funding. Recently, they were granted formal university club status after existing for almost five years.

“Right now, we are focused on getting organized with a core group of guys, running consistent practice, and building a team structure. We want to have everything together when we are given the opportunity to be eligible for the club status,” said Shea.

While the team does not have formal BC recognition for practice space, a BC alum who owns the Wai Kru gym in Allston has generously allowed it to practice as they please for free. Though also lacking a formal coach,  the experience of gym goers and veteran wrestlers on the team allows for productive practices.

For a couple of hours on Saturdays, the team sees valuable mat time. The members condition, learn technique, and also get plenty of live practice under their belts. Notably, they have been practicing for an upcoming tournament this weekend in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Though they are not designated as a club team, wrestlers from the region are invited to participate in these off season tournaments as a way to stay in wrestling shape. The BC team will face real collegiate level wrestlers here. “If we can notch some wins against actual college wrestlers, that would be a win for this season,” said Shea.

“The roster is pretty open, we have veterans and novices come in, we are 100% open to any type of wrestler,” said Gooch.“As long as someone is coming on a consistent basis, that is value added to us, regardless of skill set.” 

For the first time in over 10 years, BC students are seeing mat time, and are able to once again pursue a sport they love. The team’s leaders are excited and hopeful for the momentum they have built thus far, and only envision it growing larger.

If you are interested in joining the team, reach out to them at [email protected].

Follow @BCGavelSports for the latest updates on Boston College athletics. 

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