TIFFIN-Nestled in Seneca County, in the small town of Tiffin, sits a university.
“Small and mighty, I would say we are very agile,” said Dr. Lillian Schumacher, President Tiffin University.
The university might be small in size, but it’s big in ideas.
“We are an institution that will try things,” said Dr. Schumacher. “We are an institution that really prides ourselves on our motto which is without risk, there is no gain.”
Dr. Schumacher put that exact motto to the test a year ago when she took an idea of adding a wrestling program to the Athletics Department, but not just any wrestling program.
“We like to be the first at things and so having the opportunity to be the first and really try women’s wrestling, when I shared it with my board of trustees, they are like what are you thinking?” Dr. Schumacher said.
Late last fall, Tiffin University became the first college or university in the state of Ohio to have an all-women’s wrestling program.
“For us to be able to be the first one to add a collegiate women’s program in this state is astronomical,” said Joey Simcoe Director of Wrestling at Tiffin University.
Simcoe also serves as head men’s wrestling coach at Tiffin University. He was the brain behind adding a women’s wrestling program to the University.
“Women’s wrestling is a big part of our future for this sport,” Simcoe said.
Brittney Gadd is the first women’s head wrestling coach at Tiffin University.
“Super exciting actually, especially for a coaching career, this is like the dream job,” Gadd said.
She’s leading a 16-member team.
“I think we are really breaking the stereotype there and showing everyone that girls can wrestle too,” said Jessie Lee of Elyria.
Three of the 16-team members hail from northeast Ohio and seven of the 16 are from the Buckeye state.
“It’s something that makes you a better person, I feel like I’m better and in the future at my job and the career and I want to go to the Air Force like it is preparing me a lot more,” said McKhenna Calhoun of Akron.
“It also gives new light for female wrestlers that think there are no opportunities for them in the future when there really is,” added Jaelyn Fazio of North Royalton.
When you think of college wrestling, you think of men’s college wrestling, but on the women’s side, it’s a little different sport.
“Wrestling with boys, they use strength more than technique,” Fazio said. “With girls, we really focus on technique because we don’t have as much strength.”
The Dragons compete in the WCWA, their biggest challenge being the only school from Ohio with an all-women’s program, the travel to matches.
“The closest that we have is three hours, an hour and a half and then five and the fourth closest is about 7 hours,” Gadd said.
It’s a small obstacle but a huge opportunity.
Earlier this month, the Dragons competed in their first WCWA National Tournament in Atlanta, Georgia where they finished 22nd out of 36 teams.