By Stephen Ur –
Ella Nichols found her passion of wrestling through her brother.
“He was wrestling and playing football when i was little, so I followed and did it, too,” she told our Stephen Ur. Nichols went on to Western New England University in Springfield, MA, after she claims her wrestling coach made several promises to her and her fellow female wrestlers.
Unfortunately, as she said in a message she made publicly, none of the promises were kept by the school, even after multiple meetings.
“We deserved more than what was put into the program, as it was unorganized and unplanned from the start,” she said. “I have never felt so lost in my life with a wrestling staff. As our dreams slowly began to fade upon arrival at WNEU, I was in a place where being at WNEU started to change me as a person. It changed my perspective on wrestling and my perspective as a female in sports.”
“We had fellow coaches from the men’s folkstyle team come to the women’s freestyle practice but rarely would speak,” she continued. “It’s not their fault though because they were told to by their boss to come to the practices.”
Nichols describes the funding for the school’s women’s wrestling team as “slim-to-none” and said she had to begin teaching girls wrestling moves herself because they were unsure of what the coach was teaching them.
“They recruited these high-level girls, but gave them NO funding for a coaching staff??? Does that even make any sense??” she said in her statement.
Still, as time went on, the school continued to promise all sorts of things to the team, including an experienced head coach, a strength coach, a nutritionist and a full coaching staff. Unfortunately, those promises continued to be ignored. The women were trapped.
“At that point there was nothing we could do but get through the semester.” Nichols then recalled a moment that changed everything.”The ESU open tournament was an eye opener for me as my uncle Mark was coaching me more from the corner than my fellow coaches,” she said. “It was frustrating, as I knew I was not getting the support from my school. I had a full on anxiety attack and I was ready to leave from that point on.”
Nichols’ teammate, Emma Heslin, also added that the coach hired for the women’s wrestling team was hired three weeks prior to the season and had no experience coaching wrestling. This made it difficult for the women who had no experience wrestling and needed to learn the moves prior to the first meet.
Both girls also added that the situation not only affected them mentally and emotionally, but also financially.
“I was paying the school to be taught by someone who had less experience than some of my teammates,” Heslin said. She also added she had a mental breakdown at the ESU Open, the same event Nichols called an “eye-opener.”
” I was paying to go to a university for wrestling. Money where my mother could spend elsewhere,” Nichols said on how the situation affected her financially. “They took money from all these women who were expecting a wonderful experience.”
Both girls have since left Western New England University and plan to continue their wrestling dreams elsewhere. Nichols will be wrestling at Tunxis Community College in CT. As for Heslin, her future is up in the air.
“I am fortunate enough to have people around me who are constantly supporting me and encouraging me to not let my wrestling dreams die,” she said on her statement. “I am pursuing my goals elsewhere, although I am not sure where I will land, I know that this situation has only added to my fire.
“I will keep working and learning, I really do believe that everything happens for a reason,” she continued. This has pushed me to find a school where their women’s wrestling team is taken seriously and a place where I will thrive. I will be back soon enough.”