MARTINSVILLE, VA – Patrick Henry Community College’s Athletic Department plans to develop a wrestling program.
The college has begun renovations of a wrestling room and plans to recruit up to thirty wrestlers by the fall.
Athletic Director Brian Henderson and President Dr. Angeline Godwin have been in talks regarding wrestling for some time.
“For years – ever since I was first hired – Dr. Godwin had expressed interest in wrestling. We’ve just not had the space available for it,” Henderson said.
Henderson says the shutdowns and cancellations prompted by the COVID-19 situation have provided college administration time to evaluate and discuss new opportunities and develop creative solutions to make the program feasible.
While the coronavirus has provided an opportunity to discuss the program, it also poses a challenge for the college in moving the program forward.
Henderson says that the college is “entering this exciting new adventure with extra care and caution. We, the PHCC athletic department, coaches, and student-athletes will continue to adhere to all national and state guidelines as it relates to COVID.”
Due to the uncertain nature of athletics program across the nation, the college administration said they will move forward with the new program only if they can do so in keeping with state and national health recommendations and guidance from the National Junior College Athletics Association which governs athletics programs at two-year colleges.
“While we’re keeping an eye on the COVID situation – aware that we may need to be flexible with our plans for the fall – we are moving forward with recruiting student-athletes. We have an extreme amount of interest and a need for a two-year college wrestling program in our area,” Henderson stated.
Henderson said with that season start dates may be delayed.
Justin Smith, the former head wrestling coach at Franklin County High School, has accepted the position as Head Coach of the program.
Tim Nininger, the former head wrestling coach at Cave Spring High School, will be his assistant.
In the inaugural season, the coaches plan to build the program through local talent.
“We are very well aware of the strength of wrestling in our area. We aim to be a force in the wrestling community here in Southwest Virginia,” Smith said. Before coaching at the high school, Smith was a NCAA Division I wrestler at Liberty University.
Prior to wrestling in college, Smith had a four-year letter-winning career at Franklin County High School.
During his junior year in high school, Smith was a district champion and a state Judo champion at 130 pounds.
During his senior year, he earned both honors again despite wrestling up at 145 pounds. Tim Nininger also experienced success as a competitor and a coach.
He won the state title wrestling for Christiansburg High School.
After high school, Nininger went to Clemson University where he earned All-American honors wrestling for the Tigers.
After college, he became the Head Coach for Cave Spring High School where his team earned multiple state champions and All Americans.
“Together Tim and I have over 20 years of coaching experience and over 40 total years of experience with the sport of wrestling,” Smith added. “We have a proven track record of building strong wrestling programs and we are excited to be given the opportunity to do the same at Patrick Henry.”
PHCC wrestling aims to begin taking to the mats in the fall depending on the guidance the college receives from the NJCAA.
“We absolutely believe we have the right coaches to lead our wrestling program,” Henderson said. “I'm excited to support them as they create many new opportunities for the student-athletes of our area and beyond.”
Those interested in joining the program, should contact Brian Henderson.