The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

UW-Eau Claire head wrestling coach Tim Fader awarded The Open Mat’s 2024 NCAA Division III Coach of the Year

Fader is the first UW-Eau Claire wrestling coach to receive this award
Coach Fader continues his greatness in wrestling. Photo from Olivia Stricker Photography used with permission.

A wrestling career of greatness continues for UW-Eau Claire head wrestling coach Tim Fader. Fader has been awarded the Open Mat’s 2024 NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in his ninth season with the Blugolds. 

This is not only the first time Fader has received the award but also the first time a UW-Eau Claire wrestling coach has received the award. Fader has previously been awarded four other national honors in his career.

“Getting an award like that makes you think of the people around you immediately,” Fader said. “It’s a very humbling announcement that you get, and you just really appreciate all of the people involved.” 

Fader went on to say how the award is something he is “most proud” of in his career.

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Fader guided the Blugold wrestling team to a fifth-place finish at nationals, a first-place finish at the WIAC championship, third-year student Jared Stricker to an individual national champion and multiple other wrestlers to All-American titles. 

 “I like to have continuous growth. I like to feel like you’re moving forward and getting better all the time,” Fader said. “That’s what was so fun about this year. We did something one week and then the next week we top it and then the next week we top it again.”

Third-year student Zach Sato was one of these wrestlers constantly progressing on the team. Sato was the fifth-ranked wrestler and an All-American in the 149-pound weight division in the 2023-24 season. 

“I have been so fortunate in my time here to be a part of his vision and to see it come to fruition,” Sato said.

Sato also stated how Fader has a record of turning “bad teams” into power programs such as what he has been doing here at UW-Eau Claire.

“Fader’s vision to put Eau Claire on the map has very obviously worked out,” Sato said. “It goes without saying, but this program is nowhere near finished.”

Sato said Fader provides wisdom to the team and they even joke that Fader “has lived 100 lives.” But throughout all this, Fader remains to call little attention to himself, according to Sato. 

“In fact, the only way we found out about these awards is through social media and word of mouth, as Fader refuses to talk about his accomplishments or shed light on himself,” Sato said. “I think this humility is something the team as a whole respects and tries to emulate as well.”  

Fader has grown the program to a fifth-ranked program in the nation, according to The Open Mat’s website. Not only has the program grown but so has the support for the program with fans showing up in numbers at all their events. 

“It’s almost been one of those years like it ends at the national tournament and you’re like what’s next?” Fader said “You wish we had one more week. Wish we could have another event this next weekend because you just can see an unlimited potential on how far you can go.” 

Fader has grown a program that according to him was once “on the chopping block” for the athletics department to a champion-level competing team during his nine years with the team. When he joined the program, there were eight wrestlers and under Fader’s guidance it has grown to a 50-person team roster. 

“I don’t want to sound arrogant you know, but yes I did see myself and this team being here,” Fader said.

Voelker can be reached at [email protected]

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