Gary Holden and Nate Yetzer with Ferrum College took time to answer a few questions from VBR Sports about the upcoming NCAA 2019 Division III Wresting National Championships that will be hosted by Ferrum College. The event will take place March 8-9 at Berglund Center in Virginia's Blue Ridge.
How long have you been coaching wrestling/How long have you worked for Ferrum Athletics?
Gary: I currently serve in the dual role of Sports Information Director and Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance at Ferrum College, an NCAA Division III school in southwestern Virginia. But I've worn many other hats in the last three-and-a-half decades, including wrestling and tennis coach, conference commissioner and more.
- 1985-87 (Plymouth State): Assistant wrestling coach
- 1987-97 (Plymouth State): Head wrestling coach & residence hall director
- 1991-97 (Ferrum College):Sports Information director
- 1997-98 (Lynchburg College): Sports Information Director (SID)
- 1998-present (Ferrum College): Sports Information Director (became assistant AD/compliance director in 2004)
- 1998-2000 (Atlantic Central Football Conference): Sports Information Director
- 1999-2008 (Ferrum College): Head Men’s Tennis Coach
- 1999-2000 (Atlantic Central Football Conference): Commissioner
- 2001-02 & 2003-04 (Ferrum College): Interim Head Women’s Tennis Coach
Nate: I have been coaching since I’ve graduated college in 2005. I started at Edinboro, then to Binghamton for a year, Virginia Tech for 6 years and now finally Ferrum College for the last 6 years.
When did you know you could host an NCAA DIII Championship?
Gary: JR Johnson, a top NCAA collegiate wrestling official in the country, was head official at the NCAA Div. III Wrestling East Regional hosted by Ferrum in 2015 at the Berglund Center. He congratulated us that weekend on attracting an NCAA regional tournament, but suggested we should be looking at the bigger picture of trying to attract the NCAA National Championship to Roanoke. Also, Gary Franke, former head wrestling coach of Washington and Lee, member of National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame and current NCAA DII site rep, stopped in Roanoke on his way back from an Ohio site inspection. Gary gave high praise and suggested that we should make an effort to attract the NCAA National Championship and promised his support if we ever decided to do so. We submitted a bid two years ago and were able to include letters of support from Johnson and Franke, along with Kevin Dresser, the former head wrestling coach at Virginia Tech and current head wrestling coach at Iowa State University.
Nate: We knew that the four-year cycle was ending and that the NCAA would be opening up the bidding process for 2019-2022. Gary and I knew that the Berglund Center and Roanoke in general is a perfect setting for a Division 3 National Tournament. We found out last year that we got 2019.
What was the process to put in a bid?
Gary: We submitted four bids for NCAA Wrestling Tournaments (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022). Online portal submission. Worked with the Berglund Center to get needed information. We also got info from Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Nate: We have hosted 3 out of the last 4 NCAA Regional tournaments, so we knew what the NCAA was looking for in terms of what they would be willing to spend, the student-athlete experience, and just overall environment that they wanted. The bid involved a lot of coordination of various entities to make sure we could handle it. Luckily, Gary Holden was all over it from the very beginning.
What impact do you think hosting this event will have on Virginia’s Blue Ridge?
Gary: Hotels, restaurants, stores and area attractions could all benefit from this. We hope to put on a quality tournament so that the NCAA will feel good about future NCAA Wrestling Tournaments we attempt to attract to Virginia’s Blue Ridge. We could be looking at sports other than wrestling as well.
Nate: From a wrestling standpoint, the state has a rich history of wrestling but we have never held a NCAA Championships in wrestling ever. So, it’s a big deal for the community of wrestling here in Virginia. As far as the local community I believe it will bring a lot of fans to the Blue Ridge. Division 3 fans are very passionate about their programs and the NCAA Tournament is the culmination of an entire season. This is what we look forward to every year. One of the reasons I believed that Roanoke was a perfect location was the ability for the fans to walk downtown to all of the great establishments that are located there in between sessions.