By: RICKY LINDSAY, STAFF REPORTER
The wrestling club at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has experienced success in its third year on campus. The team’s season was capped off with Hassen Berry becoming the first National Qualifier in school history.
Next fall, the wrestling program will become known as the Wolverines, and success will become a constant expectation.
Head Coach Grant MacKenzie is excited for the name change. He’s even started buying more clothing from the M Den to prepare for the change to Wolverines.
“The name change is exciting,” said MacKenzie. “The combination of the Block M and being known as a Wolverine does motivate certain student-athletes. It’s a creative way for club members who participate for fun to emulate Big Ten athletes who were once childhood heroes.”
Recruiting local high school wrestlers hasn’t been a problem for MacKenzie since 2010, as UM-D boasts the only collegiate wrestling program in Wayne County. He’s received over 100 recruiting forms since then, and has received many more after Berry qualified for Nationals this year.
MacKenzie thinks the arrival of The Union at Dearborn, along with the name change, will help with recruiting athletes from all over the region and state.
“One of the popular questions I get from recruits on the phone is, “where will I live?” Now, I can advertise; The Union.”
The next step for the wrestling club’s development is to join the ranks as a varsity sport. MacKenzie isn’t sure when or if that will occur, but he does has high hopes for the future of UM-D wrestling.
“Currently, we are a D-2 Emerging Club. I would like to see us develop into a D-1 Club like GVSU (Grand Valley).”
Along with the prestige that comes with being named the Wolverines, the program may be able to acquire some “new” uniforms noting the change.
“Cliff Keen (University of Michigan alumni) is a big name in the Wrestling community as far as clothing, apparel and gear,” said Mackenzie. “It would be great if UM-Dearborn can get discounted or gently used gear from Ann Arbor.”
The wrestling program, along with the other sports on campus, could benefit from the financial aspect of being named the Wolverines. Both MacKenzie and his wrestlers currently pay their own way to go to each tournament to compete.
MacKenzie and Berry were not be able to attend the National Tournament in Texas this year due to financial reasons, as both have to provide their own transportation and money for costs.
Whether or not the program receives financial help, MacKenzie loves everything that comes along with his job.
“I love the challenge of this coaching position,” said MacKenzie. “There’s something intrinsically motivating me to build a club from scratch.”