The Shenandoah University wrestling team is in its first year here at SU and as a new team the wrestlers and their coach have their sights set high.
“Be elite,” said head coach Tim McGuire when asked about his aspirations for the season.
Coach McGuire is having many firsts this year. This is his first head coaching position in college and his first time being the coach of a first-year program. McGuire is from Chicago, where he developed a love for the sport of wrestling. He was previously the assistant coach at the University of Chicago before coming to Shenandoah.
“Shenandoah, just the name caught my attention,” said McGuire when he was asked about what interested him about SU.
When he came on a visit, he fell in love with the campus and town of Winchester. What stood out to him about Shenandoah was not only it being a first-year program, but also the great wrestling community in Winchester.
“When I got here last October, I felt like I was famous,” McGuire said. “I would go places around town and get stopped by strangers all the time who knew I was the new wrestling coach.”
As soon as McGuire moved to Winchester, he started going on the hunt for his recruits. He quickly gained the interest of many of Virginia’s top wrestlers. “No school handles things as well as we do,” McGuire said he told all his recruits.
“My first 10 guys that I got all finished in the top three in state and were looking at Division 1,” said McGuire. … “We can make a national name out of local guys.”
The roster started at 20 but now is 15 strong. Early on in the semester the team made strong connections with each other for a number of reasons, one being that coach McGuire gave everyone on the team their teammates’ contact information so they could get to know each other. He also held team study halls and an open-door policy in his office. “I like to play chess, so pretty frequently players come in here and play a game or two with me,” said McGuire.
Added freshman Dylan Weaver, “Study halls feel like a piece of home for me.”
A lot of the team’s focus early on in the semester was on comradery and learning about each other. “We went on a hiking trip to Bears Den and learned that a lot of my teammates were scared of heights,” said freshman Morgan Robinson when asked about some of his favorite memories with the team.
“We condition on our own, on top of all the practices and team workouts we already have,” said freshman Patrick Coffron. The team lifts four times a week and practices seven to 13 times a week.
Some players weren’t expecting the high level of competition on the team. This was something that had a huge impact. “After finding out the quality of our team, we all bought in very quickly,” said freshman David Smith.
The wrestlers developed a great sense of confidence as they learned more about each other on and off the mats. They are very much excited for the season ahead. “I’ve been counting down the days till our first match,” said Coffron.
The first taste of outside competition will come on Jan. 2 at the Wilkins Athletics & Events Center here at Shenandoah in a dual meet versus Washington and Lee. “I’m ready to shock everyone with how good we are going to be in our first year,” said Robinson.
Coach McGuire and his squad will look to make a strong statement going into the spring season to show everyone just how hard they work on an everyday basis. The wrestlers want everyone to know that they are ready to win right now.
“We’re gonna be dogs when the season starts,” said Weaver. “We’re gonna take this dub for sure.”