MOUNT VERNON — Still in its early years, women’s wrestling at Brewton-Parker College gets to see some “firsts.”
On Oct. 10 the Barons hosted its first duel in school history. That came after being among the inaugural group making up Mid-South Conference women’s wrestling. Other schools include Campbellsville (KY), Cumberlands (KY), Life (in Marietta), and Lindenwood-Belleville (IL).
Though all teams are new to the conference, not all are new to women’s wrestling, said BPC coach Brittney Gadd.
“The conference is already pretty tough,” she noted. “Schools like the Cumberlands have had their program since 2002.”
On their big night, the Barons fell by three points, 20-17, to visiting Lindenwood-Belleville.
“A lot of positives came from the duel,” Gadd said. “We had some girls bump up two weight classes and get the job done with a win.”
Nerves may have also contributed, she admitted, to it being the first duel in school history. But her squad’s matchup against a six-year-old program showed a lot of promise. Missing some starters, Gadd added, required the Barons to forfeit a few matches.
“I think we can build up to [other programs], especially with the talent brought in the first year,” she stated.
Gadd became BPC’s first women’s wrestling coach in 2016. A dual-sport athlete at University of the Cumberlands from 2008-13, Gadd earned All-Conference and All-American honors in both soccer and wrestling. As a wrestler Gadd was part of Cumberlands’ 2008 National Championshp squad and earned an invite to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, scoring several victories against other potential Olympians. She also worked her way up to a ranking of 5th on the Olympic ladder for USA Wrestling.
Most recently, Gadd completed a two-year stint as an assistant at her alma mater. She also coached the Pennsylvania National team this summer.
More than coaching
Her coaching philosophy involves more than athletics, though. At Cumberlands, Gadd organized and led her team on a mission trip to Haiti. There, they ran soccer camps, built a house, and served the community in other ways. In the summer of 2016 she participated in a two-month mission trip to Zambia for sports ministry.
Those aspects are what make a Christian univesity setting so special, she said.
“What I love the most about BPC is we are a culture of change and growth,” she said in her school bio. “This school pushes me to not only grow in my relationship with the Lord, but also in academic and athletic excellence. What I look forward to the most is helping student athletes achieve their academic, athletic, and spiritual potential.”
Brewton-Parker is one of only 30 colleges offering women’s wresting in the country, with the Mid-South being the first and only women’s wrestling conference in the nation.
After several tournaments on the road, the Barons will return to Gillis Gymnasium on Friday, Jan. 19 for a match against the University of the Cumberlands.