Wrestling is back at Ryerson for the first time since 1987. The team is still a work in progress, but new head coach and former Olympic freestyle wrestler Saeed Azarbayjani is determined to make it a success.
On the heels of the upcoming season, we caught up with the man himself for a few questions and to talk all things wrestling.
Ryersonian: How does it feel to be part of the team leading the return of wrestling to Ryerson?
Azarbayjani: I’m pretty excited about it because Ryerson didn’t have the program for a long time. Just giving us this opportunity to create the team and work with them — I think I’m pretty excited about it. Especially in the ‘80s, they had a good team so our plan is to start recruiting, and, hopefully, we’ll see good results in a few years.
Ryersonian: What do you feel you can offer this young wrestling squad as the head coach of the team?
Azarbayjani: It’s an experience being (at the Olympics), so I know what it takes to get there and you’re gonna get some kids that have smaller goals, they wanna be CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) champions and also we’ll have some kids who want to be Olympic champions. From there, I work (with) them, and hopefully with my skills and experience, I can help them.
Ryersonian: What do you think you and the team need to do in order to be successful?
Azarbayjani: First, you’ve got to hit the numbers. I’m also hoping to get more recruits. It basically comes down to hard work, proper training and building these student athletes’ confidence.
Ryersonian: What are some of your personal expectations for this year?
Azarbayjani: Commitment is the first thing, and going to practices. Firstly, it depends on how many athletes we have and their performance level and quality. I might get some wrestlers who haven’t been on the mat in a while. (It will be my job to) just get them ready. During the first couple of months, you figure out the type of athletes you’re dealing with. (In the) first couple of years, I’m hoping we get a lot more recruits; that would be really good for our team.
The interview has been edited for clarity.