Vanessa Idigbe
Mercury Staff

New leadership sets sights on regaining status after expulsion for failing to fulfill UREC requirements

The wrestling club is seeking recognition from University
Recreation to become a club sport again.

The previous wrestling club was removed as a club sport in
2015 because it did not meet University Recreation requirements, which include
communicating with the UREC office, submitting budgets, maintaining its
constitution and attending regular meetings with UREC staff.

Chris Gormley, UREC’s assistant director of competitive
sports, met with leaders of the wrestling team to assist them in becoming an
official club sport. He said that once a sport is removed, it can be
revitalized, but that the group must start from scratch.

Biology freshman and current president of the wrestling team
Hamza Huq has over six years of experience wrestling and has competed in over
63 matches. More than 40 students have registered to be in the club, and about
20 show up regularly for practice.

The wrestling club was originally intended to be established
in the spring of 2018 by graduate students but was delayed due to an initial
lack of interest from undergraduates. Huq then took over as the head
coordinator and president to spark more interests from undergraduates.

“This semester we have about 15 to 20 freshmen, which is
exactly what UREC wanted,” Huq said. “Additionally, we’ve submitted the
constitution and budget, and the director seemed pleased with the one we sent
in, so we think we’re good to go.”

Biology freshman Isaac Wright is the vice president of the
wrestling club. Wright also has six years of experience in wrestling and began
wrestling in middle school. He said the organization typically meets in the
green room at the Rec Center at 9:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays but also
has impromptu practices during the week. 
Once recognized, the wrestling club will post the official practice
times on the UREC website.

Huq added that after the team is recognized by UREC, it will
begin attending wrestling competitions against UNT and Richland College because
of their proximity to UTD.

“The club has to pay a fee just to enter the National
Collegiate of Wrestling Association, and each competing wrestler has to pay a
fee of about $50 just to compete, but we plan on fundraising, so wrestlers may
not have to pay the full amount or the amount at all,” Wright said.

The wrestling club has also implemented safety measures in
order to abide by UREC’s policies. Gormley said for wrestling, risk management
is especially important, but UREC employs staff who are trained in areas such
as first aid and concussion treatment.

“We have mats and we allow them to bring in volunteer
coaches to assist and reduce the levels of risk that (wrestlers) would be
exposed to,” Gormley said. “Risk management is not a determining factor in
eliminating them because we have other high-risk clubs that participate, but
it’s certainly a concern in making sure we trust the individuals to follow the
protocols and the policies.”

The club is also looking into establishing a women’s
wrestling team.

“We actually had two women wrestlers come over, and we are
actively trying to build a women’s wrestling team because it’s not uncommon for
women to wrestle, and the NCWA has a women’s division and a men’s division, so
we don’t want to leave the women spot empty for UTD,” Huq said. 

Although Gormley could not provide a specific date on when
the wrestling team will be officially recognized by UTD, he said he is
optimistic about the direction the team is going.

“Everybody that I’ve interacted with has been tremendous and
I’m really excited,” he said. “They are on track in doing everything they’ve
been asked to do so I’m confident in their abilities to do well as a club
sport.”