Jordan Tholl has been wrestling at the University of Regina for two years and was expecting to return for a third season in the fall.
But that expectation turned to a dream Monday when the school announced it would be putting an end to the men’s and women’s wrestling teams, along with men’s volleyball.
The decision stung for the Regina native.
“When I was an athlete I looked up to the Cougars and said I want to be a Cougar someday,” Tholl said. “Rep that ‘R’, You know?”
“Now that’s over.”
He said the athletes learned of the decision about 10 minutes before the public was told.
“It still really hurts a lot,” Tholl said. “The way they did it, for lack of a better term, was really gutless.”
Tholl said there was zero communication with student-athletes about there even being a possibility the program could be coming to an end.
“There was never any student input, no one asked me how I feel about this.”
On Tuesday, the University met with students who were going to be affected by the decision.
Tholl said the meeting just led to more and more frustration with the school and how things were handled.
“I couldn’t be more disappointed with it, there were certain questions that some of our athletes were asking they talked down to us, it seemed like we didn’t understand how simple business practices worked.”
He said questions had to be asked repeatedly in order to get an answer from the University officials.
The topic of trying to fundraise to keep the team also came up in the meeting, but Tholl said they shut that idea down instantly.
Tholl would be forced to uproot himself from his family if he wanted to continue wrestling at a University level.
“It’s really going to depend for me, just talking with my parents over the next couple of days and just seeing what they think,” he said. “It does uproot my life a lot and have to change a lot of things if I go somewhere else, but I don’t want to quit wrestling either.”
For some athletes near the end of their degree, they have to decide if they want to finish their respective degrees at the U of R or transfer to a different school and hope all their credits come with them.
But for those just beginning their studies, the decision could be easier.
“They’re gone, they’re going somewhere else,” Tholl said.
High School programs concerned of ripple effect
Rob Nelson is the coach of the O’Neill Titans wrestling team and has had many students go on to compete at the U of R.
He believes this is a huge blow to the sport in Regina.
“There’s no true professional league or anything like that, so the University is the next step after High School,” he said. ” It’s the thing that spurs the kids on to become a better athlete.”
Nelson said he was in shock when the announcement came down since the Cougars had just recruited some students from the school.
He believes this could have a ripple effect on high school wrestling programs because of how active the Cougars were with athlete development in the schools.
“It definitely stifles the growth, it definitely casts this negative shadow on things,” Nelson said.
He said the Cougars were involved in training coaches, volunteering at tournaments and setting up camps for kids even before they could compete in High School.
“Everything in Regina really filtered through them,” he said.