UB Bulls wrestlers are teammates on the mat and in the dorm
Stutzman continues tradition of freshmen wrestlers living in Governors Complex
Most freshmen student-athletes at UB enter their names into a lottery to determine where they will live on campus.
That hasn’t been the case for Buffalo freshmen wrestlers. They know where they will live months before stepping onto UB’s campus.
Most wrestlers spend their first year living in Governors Hall at the request of head coach John Stutzman. According to Stutzman, it’s been a tradition since he was a wrestler at UB in the mid-1990s.
For the most part, it’s been a success.
Most UB Honors College freshmen live in Governors. Stutzman feels placing his young athletes in an environment where they can be surrounded by studious students pays off both on and off the mat.
“When you’re around people who are goal-oriented, then you become goal-oriented,” Stutzman said. “When you’re around a bunch of kids who are really serious about their goals, serious about their academics, then hopefully that rubs off on some of our guys.”
Kelly Cruttenden, associate athletic director for compliance, said UB Athletics holds some housing slots for incoming freshmen and transfer athletes that want to live on campus.
The two main housing complexes for freshmen on UB’s North Campus are the Ellicott Complex and Governors Hall. Ellicott is the main hub for UB freshmen with up-to-date rooms, grab-and-go food options and a state-of-the-art dining facility that opened in 2012.
Ellicott also has a much larger capacity for student housing compared to Governors.
So why would Stutzman want his team living in Governors?
“It really kept us out of trouble,” said freshman Jake Gunning. “Whenever we’d go to Ellicott there would always be something going on, people always doing something. It kept us on top of our grades too. When you see people doing homework all the time, you’re just like, you know what, I’m gonna do my homework too.”
Gunning, the Mid-American Conference heavyweight runner-up, lived in Governors last year during his first year of school at UB. Gunning redshirted last season and is now a sophomore academically. Although he said at first it was a little overwhelming how quiet and different from Ellicott Governors was, he feels that it ultimately benefited both him and his teammates.
The Governors tradition appears to pay off academically for the Bulls, who accumulated a GPA of 2.877 as a team last school year. It was their ninth consecutive semester with a team GPA higher than 2.60.
Additionally, living in Governors as opposed to Ellicott gives Stutzman a chance to keep all his wrestlers together in a concentrated location, as opposed to scattered throughout the huge Ellicott Complex that consists of six separate dorm buildings.
“We make sure we keep all our freshman living together,” Stutzman said. “We have a couple who lived off campus this year, but for the most part they got to stay together, they got to grow together, and they got to make it together.”
Gunning also agrees that living in Governors helped form a unique bond between him and his teammates. He now lives in a house with most of the teammates he lived in Governors with last year.
“We went through the grind together,” Gunning said. “We’ve seen each other be down, we’ve seen each other be up. We’ve all had crossroads, and speed bumps we’ve had to overcome, and just being around each other really helps overcome those speed bumps, so it was a good as a teammate standpoint.”
Following their freshman year, Stutzman lets his wrestlers choose where they want to live, but only with his “blessing.” He doesn’t let his wrestlers join fraternities or work at bars.
“When these guys move off campus, I make sure they’re with good people,” Stutzman said. “People who will help them achieve their goals.”
Overall, Gunning calls living in Governors his freshman year a “good experience.” He lived with freshman Kyle Akins, another young star wrestler on the team. Gunning said it was important he lived with someone who has the same aspirations about wrestling.
“It’s good being around guys who have the same goals as you, and guys who want to work as hard as you,” Gunning said. “It’s good for competition, always try to make each other better.”
Michael Akelson is the assistant sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.