Many former high school athletes find their stride at the college level, further developing their skills in the competitive world of sports. The Evergreen State College offers a variety of sports for new and experienced athletes and continues to expand its athletic opportunities. For the first time in the college’s history, Evergreen State College Athletics is featuring its own wrestling division with both a men’s and women’s team. Head coaches Greg Ford and Fan Zhang are very excited to kick off their fall season and are already making plans for a 2024-2025 season.
Wrestling Kicks Off This Fall at Evergreen
The Evergreen State College officially announced their new wrestling program in December 2022 and brought on two exceptional wrestling coaches to begin building men’s and women’s teams. “Washington has been in dire need of a 4-year wrestling program, so this is a big deal to add this program here for Washington state residents,” says Greg. “Evergreen is a beautiful campus with amazing facilities, and everything here is so much more hands-on. All of our athletes are going to get a lot more out of college by coming here to wrestle.” The campus now has a dedicated space for wrestling as well as essential wrestling equipment and team uniforms, not to mention incredible academics for any interest or major study area.
For their first year, the Geoduck wrestlers will be traveling for their matches and competing as the away school. With the 2024-2025 season planning already underway, the coaches are working diligently to bring competing schools to the Evergreen campus for local matches. “We have been getting tons of feedback from people in the area, so we know people here in Washington are excited to see them compete,” shares Greg. “With professional sports, playing at home is always better because you are wrestling for more than yourself. You are representing your college, your high school, your hometown and your family.”
It’s going to be an incredible stage for local athletes to perform on and have the support of their loved ones and the community behind them.
Evergreen Welcomes Experienced Coaches for New Wrestling Team
Head men’s wrestling coach Greg Ford is a prior wrestler who graduated locally from River Ridge High School. He went on to earn a number of wrestling accolades, including the title of Washington State Champion. “I come from a wrestling family and started coaching when I was 23,” recalls Greg. “I was the head coach for my brother when he was a senior, and that’s what really kicked off my coaching career.” Since then, he has been a national coach who is heavily involved in the sport of wrestling and eager to give athletes an opportunity to excel while earning their degrees.
Greg currently serves as the Junior Director for Washington State Wrestling and oversees junior athletes to encourage college-level wrestling. When the opportunity arose to return to his hometown and coach for The Evergreen State College, Greg was thrilled to tackle the challenge. “Being in my position has really allowed me to get a jumpstart with recruiting and building the team for Evergreen,” he shares. He is thrilled to see their starting season with 25 men and 13 women, with hopes to only grow from here in the coming years.
Head women’s wrestling coach Fan Zhang is originally from China and was a National Team Member for seven years as a wrestler. He holds the title of 7-time National Champion, proving himself as an exceptional athlete in the sport of wrestling. In 2002 he started his coaching career, eventually moving to the U.S. where he ended up coaching for Iowa Women’s Wrestling for 10 years. He later relocated to Washington and coached for a year at Grays Harbor College just before the pandemic hit. As schools and programs reopened, Fan was eager to take the next step in developing wrestling for women in Washington state.
“Washington has a pretty strong high school wrestling program, but without a 4-year program here, they leave to wrestle out of state,” explains Fan. “Now they don’t need to go out of state because this is an easy option for them to go to college and wrestle while they earn their degree.” As a former competitive wrestler himself, Fan knows what an honor it is to be able to compete on your home turf with your community there to support you and cheer you on.
Represent Your Hometown as an Evergreen Geoduck Wrestler
The Evergreen State College’s new wrestling teams offer an amazing opportunity for local athletes to continue pursuing their competitive dreams. For graduating high school wrestlers, or collegiate-level athletes wanting to return home, Evergreen can provide exceptional academics and a competitive wrestling experience led by incredible coaches. Even if your college wrestling days are behind you, you can still come out to experience amazing wrestling at Evergreen and cheer on your new local wrestling team.
Evergreen State College
2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia