Wrestling is a Varsity sport at Springfield College that evolved from the interest of a group of people after it had been a part of the instructional program for about 24 years. In 1915, Alvin Banks organized, coached, and captained the first official wrestling team at the college. The first meet was against Princeton, and the Springfield College team was defeated 22-4. In the next and final match of the first season, Springfield faced M.I.T. and defeated them 17-8.
Springfield continued to excel in the sport, with a short hiatus during World War I (1918 & 1919) when the campus was closed. Erastus W. Pennock took over coaching as the teams 1st faculty coach in 1927. He coached the team until 1943 when he became ill. He was a very influential coach in the sport throughout his time at Springfield.
In 1950, Sam Coursen joined the Olympic team and was a member of the 1952 Olympic wrestling team in Helsinki. Head coach Douglas Parker took over the team in 1956 and coached until 1990. Under his leadership, the 1963-1964 season produced the first undefeated team in Springfield College history. By 1968, the team had won 18 straight NEIWA (New England Interscholastic Wrestling Association) championships. By the end of his time as head coach, Douglas Parker had amassed an amazing record of 472 wins, 154 losses, and 11 ties. In 1990 Darryl Arroyo took over as coach and led the team until 2011, when Jason Holder took over.
In 2008, Springfield College became only the fourth program in the nation to win 900 matches, joining Division I powers Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Oregon State. At the time of the writing of this historical note, the Springfield College wrestling program has had over 72 All-Americans. In 2016 Springfield College became one of the only eight schools in Division III wrestling to have multiple individual regional championships. And on January 14, 2017 the wrestling team won their 1000th and 1001 dual meet victory defeating Thiel College & Wesleyan College, becoming the only Division III Wrestling program in the nation to achieve this milestone.
Perhaps one of the greatest wrestlers to come through the program was Jeffrey Blatnick, class of 1979. Jeff Blatnick captured the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In his time at Springfield, Blatnick won a pair of NCAA Division II national titles in the heavyweight class (1978 and 1979). He is the recipient of a trophy for most pins in the least amount of elapsed time. He was also the bronze medal winner in 220 pound weight class at Junior World Games, and was named Athlete-of-the-Year at Springfield College during his sophomore and junior years.
The Springfield College Wrestling Team Records collection contains materials and information on the Springfield College Wrestling teams (varsity, junior varsity and freshman) from their first season in 1914 through the present day. The bulk of the collection begins in the mid-1950s and continues through 2010. Among these materials are scorecards, scorebooks, correspondence, memos, manuscripts, news releases, news clippings, schedules, printed publications, photographs, slides, memorabilia, and programs and brochures.
There are a number of manuscripts and papers with historical information and statistics on the teams and players at Springfield College. This includes handwritten lists, printouts and printed materials. Of particular importance are the manuscripts “The Wrestling at Springfield College, 1915-1971” and “Wrestling History at Springfield College, (June 16, 1990)” that honored coach Doug Parkers’ retirement.
The collection contains many printed materials such as brochures, programs, schedules and rosters from games and tournaments participated in by the Springfield College Wrestling Teams from 1914 through the modern era. Most of the materials come after 1960. In addition to those created by the college, there are some created by Collegiate sports divisions or as part of tournaments and championships within the collection, including Regional NCAA Tournaments, NCAA Division II and III Championships, and individual tournaments or invitationals like the Springfield College Doug Parker Invitational, RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) Invitational, Budd Whitehall Invitational, and the New England College Conference Championships.
There is also a lot of statistical information, including scorebooks and copies of scorebooks that contain the records of the individual games played by the Springfield College varsity, junior varsity, sub-varsity, and freshman teams from the 1946-1947 season into the late 2000’s. The Scorebooks contain information on wins, falls, take-downs and other happenings that make up a wrestling match. Players from both teams are represented. Cumulative statistics, including yearly team and individual player statistics exist for almost every year from the mid-1950s through 2005. In addition, there are statistics and final results from many tournaments, including NCAA Division II and III Championships that the Wrestling team or members of the Wrestling team participated in.
In addition to statistical information, there are many photographic prints, slides, negatives, and contact sheets within the collection. Photographs include team photographs, portraits of individual wrestlers, group photographs of wrestlers and/or coaches, and action (both staged and un-staged) scenes taken during games and practices from 1915 when Alvin Banks organized, coached, and captained the first official wrestling team at Springfield college through the mid-2000s. Action photographs become much more prevalent starting in the 1980s.
Additional materials include news releases and newspaper articles on the Springfield College Wrestling Team, individual wrestlers on the team, and some conference or NCAA wrestling update, materials on 1984 Gold Medalist Jeffrey Blatnik (class of 1979), both in a folder devoted to him and within the various series during his time as a wrestler here.