josh hardman MU
Josh Hardman

Women’s Wrestling Team to Be Formed at Manchester

Ely Cook 

Manchester University announced that by the 2024-2025 season, there will be a women’s wrestling team and the official recruitment process is expected to start next school year.

Josh Hardman, the current men’s wrestling coach, will step up and become the Director of Wrestling next year to manage both the men’s and women’s teams. Hardman is originally from Constantine, MI, and went to high school there. At Constantine High School, he wrestled every year and won a state championship.

For college, Hardman decided to go to Manchester University and wrestled there as well. At Manchester, Hardman won Academic All-American. He was also a three-time national qualifier, and three-time All-American while attending Manchester University.

Five years before coming to coach the Manchester University men’s wrestling team, he was coaching at a different school. Eventually, when the position at Manchester opened, he decided he wanted to come back to his alma mater and join the men’s wrestling coaching staff.

One of the most rewarding things about becoming the Director of Wrestling is, as he put it, “overseeing both programs and making sure that they are moving in the right direction.”

Why did Hardman wanted to add women’s wrestling to Manchester University? “It is one of the fastest growing sports in the country right now,” he said. “It started a couple of years ago with the growth of women’s wrestling, and the athletic administration started to look into it. Obviously, part of the mission and goal of Manchester is to possibly increase enrollment. Women’s wrestling was an opportunity to potentially raise that enrollment.”

In fact, one of the things he is most excited about while adding women’s wrestling to Manchester University is the opportunity to just continue growing wrestling. “I am a huge wrestling fan in general,” he said. “I am a wrestling junkie. I love wrestling no matter what it is, but I think seeing the growth of it just adds to what wrestling is as a whole.”

Manchester University will be the third college in the state of Indiana to add women’s wrestling to their sports. The only other two schools that have women’s wrestling as of right now are Trine University and Indiana Tech University. “We are probably around that 50 mark of schools that have women’s wrestling in NCAA Division III,” Hardman said. “We will be going to a championship committee in the next couple of years to have a championship that will solely be just a Division III Championship.”

Women’s wrestling recruiting, in comparison to men’s wrestling, is different. “For men’s wrestling we only recruit in Indiana,” Hardman said, “but because women’s wrestling is so brand new, we recruit nationally.”

He also stressed that students should enroll in Manchester, because of the community. “I had great relationships here as a student athlete, and students in general still get that with their professors,” he said. “As a whole, I think it is a place where you can find success, whether inside or outside the classroom. You can challenge yourself to be a better person.”

Hardman wants his wrestlers to develop on and off the mat. “We talk a lot about personal growth on our teams as well,” he said, “which can be anything ranging from your spiritual life, to your social life, to your academic life, to your wrestling life.”

He also emphasized an advantage that Manchester has over other schools. “I think we set ourselves apart with the faculty we have,” Hardman said.

Apart from his job as a wrestling coach, Hardman has two daughters, a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old. They both play travel sports, so a lot of times weekends are dedicated to supporting them at basketball games or soccer games.

Manchester is expected to officially have a roster and schedule set for the women’s wrestling team by the 2025-2026 school year.