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This week, will move to the USOC platform, with a new look, new functionality, but with the same favorite features....

Terry Shockley named Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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Rich Bender named Executive Director of USA Wrestling

USA Wrestling's Executive Committee has named Rich Bender of Colorado Springs, Colo. as the organization's Executive Director. Bender accepted the new position following the Executive Committee's conference call on February 13. Bender had served as Acting Executive Director for USA Wrestling since December 11, 2000. James E. Scherr, who was Executive Director of USA Wrestling for 10 years, left USA Wrestling for a new position with the U.S. Olympic Committee at that time. "Rich started with USA Wrestling as an intern in 1988, and has worked his way up through the organization," said USA Wrestling President Bruce R. Baumgartner. "He has wrestled, and has worked on every level of the sport. His experience as an Associate Executive Director proved valuable to the organization's growth." "As president, I can say that he is the right person for the position," continued Baumgartner. "The Executive Committee has been very pleased with his efforts during the Acting Executive Director period. I believe that with Rich's leadership, the Board's direction and the quality of employees and volunteers with our organization, USA Wrestling has a great future." "I am blessed and honored to be given this opportunity," said Bender. "I am eager to help move this organization and sport forward. I look forward to addressing our challenges at hand, while working with everyone in the sport to create a solid road map for wrestling's future." During his two months as Acting Executive Director, Bender revised USA Wrestling's corporate structure, and adjusted the responsibilities of a number of key staff members. He was instrumental in the organization of the 2001 World Championships, which will be held in New York City in September. He also finalized a number of corporate sponsorships for USA Wrestling. Bender has worked full-time for USA Wrestling for 12 years. He served as the Associate Executive Director of Programs prior to his appointment as Acting Executive Director. In his past position, Bender oversaw USA Wrestling's events, National Teams and developmental programs activities. He played a leadership role in the preparation of the 2000 U.S. Olympic wrestling team, which had a strong seven-medal performance in Sydney, Australia. He previously served as USA Wrestling's National Events Director, where he developed an expanding schedule of regional, national and international events for the organization. These events have provided quality wrestling opportunities for hundreds of thousands of U.S. wrestlers, from youth through Olympic hopefuls. Bender has supervised the organization and promotion of many major events including the 1995 World Freestyle Championships, numerous age-group World Championships, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the U.S. Olympic Festival, the World Cup, the Goodwill Games, and numerous World Dual meets. Bender also served as the Competition Manager for wrestling at the 1996 Olympic Games, working for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG). Bender organized a staff which presented one of the best Olympic wrestling competitions in history. Over 115,000 fans witnessed the outstanding wrestling competition that Bender managed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He was awarded a FILA Gold Star for his efforts on behalf of Olympic wrestling. Under Bender's leadership, more fans have attended major USA Wrestling events than ever before. The 1996 Freestyle Olympic Team Trials in Spokane, Wash. drew a record 23,000 spectators, including over 9,000 spectators for the finals. That record was almost doubled at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Dallas, Texas, which sold a total of 50,170 tickets, including a final session attendance of over 10,000 fans. In addition, more people are competing in USA Wrestling national events than ever before. During the 2000 season, over 18,000 athletes participated in regional, national and international events conducted by USA Wrestling. New events and programs are continuing to be developed to meet the needs of the membership. USA Wrestling now hosts national championships for men and women in freestyle, Greco-Roman and folkstyle wrestling on many age levels. Bender has helped build and expand the combined Cadet Nationals and Junior Nationals, the largest wrestling tournament in the world. Each year, in Fargo, N.D., up to 3,500 young athletes compete in this event, a highlight of the national wrestling season. Bender served as a U.S. Olympic Committee intern in the fall of 1988, working for USA Wrestling. He was hired as Events Assistant for USA Wrestling in January 1989, and became Manager of National Events in September 1989. He received a degree in Sports Management and Business Administration from the Univ. of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1988. Bender was a three-sport athlete at Boscobel High School, earning two varsity letters each in football, baseball and wrestling. He and his wife Michelle have two daughters, Madeline and Chloe.
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