North Texas Daily

New coach sparks competition for wrestling club

New coach sparks competition for wrestling club

New coach sparks competition for wrestling club
September 17
23:42 2014

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in Thursday’s paper. The story said that Andre Metzger was an Olympic medalist. However, this was a mistake as Metzger won medals at the World Championships and only competed in the Olympic trials. The story has been corrected online. 

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

More than 20 years ago, Andre Metzger was busy earning medals at the World Championships.

Now, Metzger is part of the Mean Green family as the first-year head coach of the North Texas Wrestling Club.

The club is entering its third year in existence, but 2014 will be the first year that the team competes on an intercollegiate level in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.

“It’s a club from the pure standpoint, but in reality, this is a team,” Metzger said. “We are creating a team that will compete with anybody in the country.”

Metzger won medals at the wrestling World Championships during his career and competed in the Olympic Trials. He said he believes that this squad has the potential to hang with any team in its conference. However, he emphasized how much work needs to be done before expecting results.

“Everybody has something in them. It’s just whether or not you can bring it out of them,” Metzger said. “They’re going to have to work their tails off to get tough.”

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Coach Andre Metzger, left, assists advertising senior Kedrick Sousa, right, as he wrestles mechanical and energy engineering senior Taylor Swanson at practice.

Metzger is currently working as a volunteer with UNT despite a handful of Division I schools seeking his coaching services. Senior wrestler Taylor Swanson, who serves as the club’s president, is thrilled to have Metzger aboard and has always wanted to compete collegiately.

“It’s a dream come true to compete on the collegiate level,” Swanson said. “I’ve been out since my sophomore year of high school, which was six or seven years ago. I’ve been training MMA since then, and two years with this club. It’s definitely been a long road.”

Swanson had been looking for someone to take over as the team’s coach. A call from the National Collegiate Wrestling Association helped end his search.

“I was looking for a coach for like three months, and I got some offers from old college kids,” Swanson said. “I was even looking at some high school coaches, and actually the NCWA president called me randomly and asked if we had a coach. They said, ‘I have a guy that’s perfect for you, can I set up a meeting?’”

Metzger said that he was intrigued by the possibility of joining the team and that he believed they already had talent.

“The University of North Texas came to me and said, ‘Hey, we’d love to have you as a coach, we’re looking for a coach.’ I figured OK, I’ll help them,” Metzger said. “And once I came in here, we’ve got enough numbers that I think we can field a good team.”

Swanson said his goal for this year’s club is to field a full team of 11 for every competition, while many of the more prominent schools often send only four or five wrestlers to meets.

There is also a  women’s division of the club, which is on the rise as well. Junior Kaylie Kovach said the program is growing at a rapid pace and can be competitive in the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Association.

“We started off with just a few girls, but now we have 10 or so showing up at all the practices,” Kovach said. “We’re starting with foundation work, but we’re going to make it something amazing and keep building it.”

Although 2014 will mark the first year that UNT has been competitive, Metzger has instilled an aura of confidence and swagger for the team. Senior wrestler Kedrick Sousa, who has been with the club since its inauguration three years ago, said Metzger’s confidence is inspirational to the team.

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Finance freshman Conner Shinners, left, prepares to wrestle with coach Andre Metzger as part of a demonstration for other members of the team on Sunday.

“Our goal is to win our conference, and his goal is for us to win the championship,” Sousa said. “So with those goals in mind, he’s the guy that can get us there. Just the positivity all around the room, teaching us new moves, working with everybody. I mean, you really can’t get much better than that.”

The club will be a member of the Southwest Conference, which spans five states and includes schools such as Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and the University of Texas. But despite the Mean Green’s historical inexperience, Metzger remains confident.

“Any school that has wrestling, we’ll try to compete against them,” Metzger said. “We’re competing with teams that have been in this for a long time. The University of Texas has had it for 17 years, and we’re going to try and whip their tails.”

The team has high expecations and Metzger can help them reach them.

“We’ve got one of the best coaches in country right now,” Sousa said. 

 Featured Image: Coach Andre Metzger, middle, oversees kinesology sophomore Ryan McGahey, right, and finance freshman Conner Shinners during practice on Sunday afternoon at the Pohl Recreation Center. This is Metzger’s first semester as the wrestling coach. Photo by Devin Dakota – Staff Photographer

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