REDDING, Calif. — Simpson University director of athletics, Tom Galbraith, announced Friday the addition of women’s varsity wrestling as the 18th varsity sport for the Red Hawks. Simpson will begin competition in the NAIA West grouping in the 2019-20 academic year under the direction of head coach, Fan Zhang.
Zhang comes to Simpson after serving as the head women’s wrestling coach at Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Wash. this past season. Prior to that stint, he spent three years as an assistant coach with the NCAA Div. III perennial powerhouse men’s program at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. From 2012-18 he also coached the Iowa Girls State Team, leading several junior and cadet female wrestlers to Junior Folkstyle National Champions and ASICS All-American achievements.
As a competitor, Zhang is a seven-time national champion in his native China and was named one of the Top 10 Outstanding Athletes in Beijing, a metro city of over 13 million people, in 1997.
Born in Mongolia and raised as a child in Beijing, Zhang moved to the U.S. in 2008 and began volunteering with the Wartburg program while completing a master’s degree in Leisure, Youth and Human Services from the University of Northern Iowa. While working with the Wartburg program, the Knights won the NCAA Div. III men’s national title in 2009, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Zhang holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from the Wuhan Institute in Wuhan, China.
The addition of women’s wrestling is part of new strategic initiatives initiated by newly inaugurated president, Dr. Norman Hall, to grow the institution’s enrollment and apply emphasis on net revenue generating programs, both co-curricular and curricular.
During the 2018-19 academic year, 24 NAIA institutions competed in women’s wrestling, which is one of the fastest-growing female participation sports in the country.