Zack Esposito named USA Wrestling National Freestyle Development and Resident Coach
by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
Zack Esposito of Stillwater, Okla. has been named the new National Freestyle Development and Resident Coach for USA Wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the United States.
In this position, Esposito will coordinate U.S. Pan American and World Teams at the U15, U17 and U20 levels. He will also manage USA Wrestling’s Elite U20 Resident Program, which will train at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will work directly with National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick and Manager of Freestyle Programs Joe Russell on many other projects as part of USA Wrestling’s professional national freestyle coaching staff.
Esposito comes to USA Wrestling after spending 21 years with the Oklahoma State wrestling program, first as a national champion athlete and then as a member of its coaching staff. Esposito most recently served seven years in the position of Associate Head Coach, working alongside Hall of Fame head coach John Smith, a two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion as a freestyle athlete.
“I am extremely grateful and humbled to be part of USA Wrestling and play an integral role in cultivating the future stars of Team USA. I look forward to becoming a positive influence for our athletes and helping them grow as individuals and wrestlers. I have had the opportunity to coach various age-group World teams, and those experiences left an indelible mark on me. Specifically, I coached teams, and shared the success of athletes who went on to win Olympic and World medals. To be able to follow their careers and watch their rise to World dominance is truly awesome,” said Esposito.
He has also been successful coaching freestyle wrestling with the Cowboy Regional Training Center and the Cowboy Wrestling Club, working with elite athletes from youth through the Senior level. Esposito has coached three U.S. U17 World Teams (2012, 2015, 2016) and has coached a number of U.S. Senior teams, including the 2018 World Cup team. Esposito served as a personal coach for elite athletes competing at major international events including Coleman Scott, Daton Fix and Alex Dieringer.
“USA Wrestling is thrilled to welcome Zack and his family to the organization. Zack has not only been successful at the collegiate level during his time at Oklahoma State, but his involvement and success around the Olympic styles is also evident. During the hiring process, Zack communicated and showed a well-thought-out vision for his future plans surrounding the USA Wrestling developmental programming. As we move forward and look for new ways to stay competitive among the World ranks, it is imperative that we think beyond what is currently in place. We have no doubt that Zack will lead this program with a strong commitment to excellence in all facets,” said Cody Bickley, USA Wrestling Director of National Teams High Performance.
“I am extremely excited to add Zack Esposito to our Men’s Freestyle staff as our National Developmental Coach. I have watched and admired Zack’s career as both a NCAA Champion competitor and as a professional in his coaching career. Zack brings an attitude of continued learning and growth as well as wealth of experience from our most storied collegiate program, Oklahoma State. I’m confident he will apply his great character and innovative perspectives to have strong impact on USA Wrestling’s elite age-group athletes, our resident Olympic Training Center team and the entire USA Wrestling developmental pipeline. I am honored to welcome Zack, Brandy, and their children to the USA Wrestling family” said Bill Zadick, National Freestyle Coach.
A native of Three Bridges, N.J., Esposito was a three-time Prep School national champion competing for Blair Academy. He competed for Oklahoma State in college, where he was a three-time All-American, including winning the 149-pound NCAA title for the Cowboys. While a student-athlete at Oklahoma State, he was a member of four NCAA Div. I championship teams under coach John Smith. Esposito was also a three-time Big 12 individual champion. He was also an accomplished freestyle wrestler, competing on the 2008 U.S. World Cup team and earning All-American honors at the U.S. Open.
Esposito started his coaching career with the Cowboy WC in 2010. He was added to the coaching staff at Oklahoma State in 2012 as an assistant, and was promoted to Associate Head Wrestling Coach in 2017. During his tenure on the staff, the Cowboys, he has coached 67 NCAA All-Americans and 10 NCAA individual champions. Among the multiple NCAA champions that Esposito coached were three-time champions Alex Dieringer and two-time champions Dean Heil, Chris Perry and Jordan Oliver. The Cowboys won seven NCAA Div. I team trophies during his years on the coaching staff.
“I am truly grateful for Oklahoma State and for the opportunity for the past 21 years to have been coached and mentored by John Smith, our greatest freestyle wrestler and one of the greatest minds in all of sports,” said Esposito.
Esposito is married to the former Brandy Baker. The couple has three children, Evelyn, Rocco and Goldie.
He will start with USA Wrestling on September 1, and is already focusing on helping USA Wrestling move confidently into the future.
“I am extremely excited to see what USA Wrestling can do in the Residence Program. The goal is to create an environment where we provide all the resources it takes to be successful on World and Olympic stages. I look forward to building on the foundation the previous coaches have constructed. Further, I look forward to working with the colleges and Regional Training Centers to provide any support their student-athletes require,” Esposito said. “I’m also excited to work with Bill Zadick, whose philosophy and values are something I really connect with. I also look forward to being part of the USA Wrestling team, working with Joe Russell, Cody Bickley, and the other coaches and administrators on staff.”