STEVE BATTERSON Quad City Times
IOWA CITY – Throughout her wrestling career, Clarissa Chun has experienced a number of firsts.
The two-time Olympian added another first to her resume.
Chun was introduced Friday as the first coach of Iowa’s new women’s wrestling program.
“It’s always great to be first, from the top of the podium to everything else,” said Chun.
Chun joins the Hawkeyes from USA Wrestling where she has been an assistant coach for the United States Women’s National Team since 2017, working in a team led by former Hawkeye National Champion Terry Steiner.
During his five years with the USA Wrestling team, Chun helped lead the United States to 17 world medals, including seven gold, four silver and six bronze in addition to one medal. gold, silver and two Olympic bronze medals.
Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta said Chun’s credentials as a competitor and coach speak for themselves.
“What stands out about Clarissa is her passion for wrestling and her plan to lead our program,” said Barta.
Barbara Burke, assistant director of athletics for Iowa who conducted the research to find the Hawkeyes’ first coach, said the Iowa program announced on September 23 that it was starting to attract a large pool of qualified applicants .
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“As we progressed, Clarissa rose to the top,” said Burke. “We think she is the right person to build our program. “
Chun is looking forward to the chance to lead a program that will be the first women’s wrestling program at an NCAA Power Five institution.
“There’s no better place than Iowa to start women’s wrestling at power level five,” said Chun, who competed collegially for a Missouri Valley College program that was among the sport’s pioneers.
Chun sees the opportunity to build and develop a program as a chance for her to grow as a person and a coach.
“I could have continued to work with Coach Terry Steiner and the National Women’s Team, but I don’t think there is a better place or time to challenge myself and become a head coach,” Chun said.
She thinks Iowa is the right place to take this step.
Chun came to this conclusion based on her previous visits to Iowa City, where she secured a spot on the United States Olympic team in 2012 when she won that opportunity at the United States Olympic Trials held. at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“This state, this community, has such a history and tradition with the struggle and the support here is amazing,” Chun said. “It’s the perfect place to create a program. “
Chun left Iowa with that feeling after his experience in the 2012 Olympic Trials.
She recalled going out for lunch the day after her victory at the Olympics at a local restaurant where a young man approached her, congratulated her on her victory and told her in detail about her match. decisive.
After finishing the discussion, the man even went to get his breakfast bill.
“It doesn’t happen anywhere else,” Chun said. “People here are so passionate about wrestling. “
Chun understands the responsibilities and expectations that come with leading a wrestling program in an institution with a rich history in the sport.
And, she expects there will be challenges along the way.
Chun said she looked forward to it and looked forward to the opportunity to meet all the challenges that come with leading a start-up program.
“I will learn a lot throughout the process. As the manager of a Division I program, I am sure there will be a lot of challenges and I look forward to meeting those challenges and learning as we begin our program, ”said Chun.
“I’m thrilled with the opportunity I have here and can’t wait to build a team and create a program and represent the Iowa Hawkeyes. “
Burke said that due to other previous commitments and obligations, Chun will not begin working in Iowa until February 7.
She will begin to fill the staff position and begin the process of recruiting potential student-athletes after this point.
The Hawkeye program will debut in the 2023-24 season, but Burke said Iowa is enforcing NCAA compliance rules to welcome the first female wrestlers to campus in the fall of 2022.
These athletes would compete unattached in the 2022-2023 school year before wearing an Iowa jersey for the first time a year later.