The year is 1989. The United States’ women’s wrestling team is competing for the first time at the world championships in Switzerland. Asia DeWeese, UCC’s new wrestling coach, is there earning what she calls “my greatest achievement.”
“I was part of the first women’s national team that went to world championships,” DeWeese says. In a time when “USA wrestling didn’t want us” and when their team “didn’t get any money,” she and her teammates were competing against the odds. In spite of the odds, coach DeWeese won second at the 1989 world championships, her biggest wrestling accolade.
DeWeese wasn’t always respected, however. When she was younger, DeWeese was faced with constant pushback from others for simply being a female wrestler. “People would call my mom’s house and ask her, ‘How can you let your daughter wrestle?’ Now it is very positive. Sometimes people look at me and go ‘You wrestle?’ But primarily I think what I get these days is positive.”
DeWeese took ownership of the new women’s wrestling team on April 4. She has started recruiting, and the team will start practicing in fall term 2017. With this new team, DeWeese stated that she is excited to coach.
Having a brand new team can be both exciting and challenging. “Oregon has five women (wrestling) seniors graduating. That is about it. Recruiting for me is a lot harder because I have to recruit primarily out of state,” DeWeese said.
With seven years of coaching experience and eight years on the mat, DeWeese has a combined 15 years of wrestling experience. She coached the Oregon Women’s Team, the best female high school wrestlers competing nationally. She briefly coached for South Eugene High School before coming to Douglas County to help coach the Roseburg Mat Club and the Joseph Lane Middle School team.
Female wrestlers competing for DeWeese can expect a substantive focus on weight lifting and cardio in addition to the obvious wrestling practices. They can also expect to feel part of a team in an individual sport. “One of the things I have learned through the Roseburg Mat Club is that it is an amazing atmosphere where you have people from all different levels and all different ages that really feel like part of the team, even though wrestling is an individual sport. There is very much of that team compatibility and assistance with one another, and I hope to build that in our program,” DeWeese said.
UCC’s women’s team will compete in international freestyle while the men’s program compete in collegiate or folkstyle. Folkstyle wrestling and freestyle are both very similar; one of the main differences, according to Team USA, is “folkstyle wrestling puts more emphasis on controlling your opponent, while freestyle puts more emphasis on exposure points.”
Any students interested in UCC’s new wrestling program can go to UCC’s sports website to see who the new wrestling recruits will be and learn about the sports as well as ways to sign up. See uccriverhawks.com.
“USA wrestling didn’t want us” —Asia DeWeese, UCC women’s wrestling coach