HASTINGS, Neb. - (KSNB) Hastings College will offer men’s volleyball and women’s wrestling as varsity intercollegiate sports beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.
The addition of the two programs will bring Hastings College Broncos Athletics to 26 competitive teams. Like other College’s other athletic teams, the new programs will be affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC).
Hastings College is conducting national searches to find head coaches for both programs.
“We’re excited to launch these new athletic teams and provide opportunities for more student athletes to experience Hastings College,” said Hastings College President Dr. Travis Feezell. “The teams are reflective of the institution, our athletic conference and where we want to go as a college.”
Director of Athletics B.J. Pumroy said Hastings College recognizes intercollegiate athletics as an important component to the College’s learning community.
“Volleyball fans in Nebraska bring a great passion for the sport, enjoy a high level of play and are some of the most engaged fans in the country,” Pumroy said. “By adding men’s volleyball we look to bring new students to our campus and engage our community members in a sport in which they have shown great interest.”
In 2020 there will be 50 NAIA schools competing in men’s volleyball, up from 42 in 2019. The NAIA began offering a Men’s Volleyball Championship in the 2019 season. With the addition of the Hastings College, the GPAC will have five schools sponsoring men’s volleyball and the league will look to attract an affiliate member to get to automatic qualification for the national tournament status number of six teams.
Statistics from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSA) shows in 2019 there were 2,926 High Schools sponsoring Boys Volleyball and 63,563 boys playing high school volleyball.
“Women’s wrestling is a fast growing sport in intercollegiate and interscholastic levels across the country,” said Pumroy. “We believe it’s the right time to join the trend of schools adding the sport to meet an increasingly growing marketplace. We know Nebraska high schools traditionally have strong wrestling programs. We also believe with the national and state increase in participation in girls wrestling, the Nebraska School Activity Association may soon sanction the sport.”
At the NAIA level, 20 schools competed in the inaugural NAIA National Invitational Women’s Wrestling Championship held in Jamestown, North Dakota, in 2019, including two from the GPAC and three from the Nebraska. There are 63 colleges and universities nationwide who sponsor women’s wrestling. The NCAA’s Committee on Women’s Athletics also recently recommended women’s wrestling to be recognized as an emerging sport, which is the first step to NCAA official championship sponsorship.
Eighteen states have women’s wrestling championships at the high school level. In Nebraska, 168 girls competed for their high school teams in the 2018-19 school year, which is the 20th largest state participation number. Nationally there were 2,980 high school sponsoring teams and 21,124 girls wrestling at the high school level in 2018-19.
Women’s wrestling competes in the traditional winter season, while men’s volleyball competes during the winter and early spring.