By Peter Briguglio
The Nassau Community College athletic department has inserted themselves at the forefront of women’s equality in sports once again as the school has officially introduced women’s wrestling as a varsity sport.
Nassau’s Men’s wrestling team has earned national recognition over the last 30 years under head coach and National Wrestling hall-of-famer Paul Schmidt, who was instrumental in bringing the women’s program to the school. His men’s teams have yielded national champions, All-Americans and even professional fighters, and now former assistant coach and NCC alum Sam Thomas will look to have similar results as the new women’s head coach.
“I am very excited about incorporating the women’s program into the Nassau Community College wrestling family,” said Schmidt. “We are looking for great things down the road and I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but we expect to have a women’s program up and running and competing at a national level within a few years.”
“What makes me really excited about running the women’s program is we will be starting our own history,” said Thomas. “We are looking to create our own history, and when I am out recruiting, each member I add is going to be part of history, not just for our team or for NCC but this is a new step for the country.”
Thomas has tapped long-time men’s assistant coach Vougar Orounjov as his new associate head coach. As an athlete, Vougar has earned Olympic medals, European Championships and World Championships, and will now share his expertise with the young women who will finally get the opportunity to hit the mat as Nassau Lions.
“We don’t have women’s wrestling on Long Island; we have the athletes, but not a program for them,” said Orounjov. “I am very excited that we now will have a place for them to compete and I’m eager to start the new program.”
With women’s wrestling gaining participation nationally and support growing for it to obtain varsity status in the NCAA ranks, Nassau’s move is truly ground-breaking and puts them in the forefront of a sport that is just starting out in the junior college ranks.
The team has not released any scheduling information yet.