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By Gary Abbott
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Wrestling and Northern Michigan University are pleased to announce the hiring of Shannyn Gillespie of Chicago, Ill., to serve as the United States Olympic Education Center (USOEC) women’s wrestling resident coach.
The women’s freestyle wrestling program will start in the fall of 2004 at the USOEC on the NMU campus in Marquette, Mich. Gillespie’s position is effective July 12. There is currently a successful Greco-Roman resident program at the USOEC.
“This is a challenge I am ready for,” said Gillespie. “Women’s wrestling is on the rise. The women have never had a dedicated program like this designed to take them to the next level. It will also allow them to get college scholarships, college credit and college degrees. This is a program that will allow our athletes to shine.”
Gillespie was a successful athlete on the college and international freestyle levels, and has extensive coaching experience on the youth and college levels. He comes to the USOEC coaching staff after serving as executive director and coach with the Black Kats Wrestling Club in Evanston, Ill, a position he has held since 2002. Gillespie has handled the administrative leadership of this non-profit organization, which provides quality wrestling opportunities for young people in the community.
Gillespie was also responsible for increasing fundraising for the club considerably, utilizing a variety of strategies to solicit support for the program. He has designed and implemented middle school and high school wrestling divisions for the club. He has utilized the Internet to help build the program and provide improved information delivery to students, teachers, parents, staff and the community.
“We are very pleased that Shannyn is interested in this challenge, ”said Mitch Hull, National Teams Director for USA Wrestling. “The more we discussed this opportunity, the clearer it became that Shannyn was the right individual. He has the technical background and the energy to develop this program as a cornerstone for the development of women’s wrestling.”
Gillespie has extensive experience as a college assistant wrestling coach, working with the wrestling programs at Northern Illinois University, California University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University. He was also an assistant wrestling coach at Evanston Township High School. He is a bronze certified coach in USA Wrestling’s National Coaches Education Program.
Gillespie was a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete in Colorado Springs, Colo., for two years during his freestyle career. He placed in a number of international competitions, including a bronze medal at the 1988 Sunkist Kids International Open. He also placed in several national age-group competitions, including a silver medal at the 1989 Junior Nationals.
Gillespie competed for Lock Haven University where he placed third at the 1993 NCAA Championships. He received a degree in Health and Physical Education there. He was an Illinois state high school champion for Evanston Township High School. Gillespie is a member of the Eastern Wrestling League, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and Evanston Township High School Halls of Fame.
“Any coach wants to be a head coach, whether it is on the university, high school or youth level,” Gillespie said. “I will have the support of Northern Michigan, USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee. It is a great opportunity. The women wrestlers will be getting their just due. They deserve the same opportunity as men do. They deserve Olympic medals just like we do.”
In addition to working with the USOEC resident athletes and team, Gillespie will also be a member of USA Wrestling’s professional national women’s coaching staff, helping to build the United States women’s team into an elite program.
In February, 1989, the U.S. Olympic Committee named Northern Michigan University (or NMU) as the nation's only United States Olympic Education Center (USOEC). The USOEC's main focus is the resident athlete training program, where athletes actively train for the Olympic Games while also continuing their education. Generally, athletes in this program must be nationally ranked and also approved by their national governing body (NGB), the USOEC, and NMU. The USOEC also has resident athlete training programs in boxing, short track speedskating, Greco-Roman wrestling, and weightlifting.
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