Alumni support bolsters wrestling program
Endowed coachships honor Olympians Matt Gentry, Patricia Miranda
After a year in which the wrestling program was slated for discontinuation, several alumni and friends have come together to create three new coaching endowments and help sustain the future of the sport at Stanford.
Two of the coachships honor Matt Gentry, ’05, who represented Canada in freestyle in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and Patricia Miranda, ’01, who won bronze in freestyle for the United States in the Athens Olympics in 2004 and became the first American woman to receive an Olympic medal in wrestling.
“The fact that multiple donors stepped forward to endow three coachships highlights the tremendous support that the wrestling program enjoys,” said Bernard Muir, the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics. “We are grateful for the generosity of these donors and excited for the future of Stanford wrestling. It is a particular honor to celebrate Matt Gentry and Patricia Miranda, two wrestlers who left an indelible impact on the program.”
Rob Koll, who joined Stanford as the head coach in May, will be the inaugural Matt Gentry Head Wrestling Coach. The Patricia Miranda Assistant Wrestling Coachship will be held by Enock Francois and Vincenzo Joseph will be the Anonymous Assistant Wrestling Coach.
“I continue to be blown away by the generosity of our alumni and friends,” said Koll. “Although we still have a long way to go, our friends have made it eminently obvious that Stanford wrestling is not here to just survive but to thrive.”
Ryan Barnes, ’97, is one of three Stanford wrestling alumni who made gifts to endow the Matt Gentry Head Wrestling Coachship; the other two donors have chosen to remain anonymous.
“We chose to name this endowment after Matt Gentry because he represents everything that is Stanford wrestling,” explained Barnes, who is a co-founder of a private investment firm in San Francisco. “Matt proved that you could excel both on the mat and in the classroom. More importantly, Matt is an incredibly humble individual who serves as an exceptional ambassador for our program.”
Gentry spent a decade on The Farm, wrestling for the Cardinal from 2000-05, and then joined the coaching staff from 2005-10. In 2004, he became the first Stanford wrestler to be crowned an NCAA champion, finishing the season 42-0. In 2008, Gentry became Stanford’s first and only male wrestler to qualify for the Olympics. Now a doctor of physical therapy, Gentry’s wrestling accomplishments were recognized with his induction into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.
“I am humbled to have the head coaching position bear my name,” said Gentry. “I loved representing Stanford wrestling as a student-athlete, and this naming privilege allows me to continue representing Stanford beyond my competitive years.”
For Stanford wrestling alumni Robert Hatta, ’97, and Shawn Harmon, ’01, naming the assistant wrestling coachship after Patricia Miranda, the daughter of Brazilian political refugees, was an easy choice.
“[Miranda] started with none of the attributes or advantages that accompany athletic success and ended up on the podium at the Olympics,” said Hatta. “She exemplifies the entire sport of wrestling - not just Stanford wrestling.”
Miranda wrestled at Stanford on the men’s team from 1997-02. She earned the starting position at 125 pounds during her senior year and is the most decorated international wrestler in Cardinal history, as the winner of three World Championship medals and the first Olympic medalist in women's wrestling history. Now a partner at a law firm in Monterey County, Miranda is an advocate for immigrant communities through her legal work.
“Patricia embodies everything that is great about Stanford wrestling and the sport more broadly,” said Harmon. “She has proven herself a champion in every sense of the word and is among the finest of people you'll meet.”
Together with Miranda, Hatta and Harmon were co-chairs of the Keep Stanford Wrestling group. Hatta is a partner at Drive Capital, a venture capital firm in Columbus, Ohio. Harmon serves as a vice president in private wealth management at Goldman Sachs in Seattle.
“Fighting to save the wrestling program stemmed from my desire to keep character-building in our higher learning institutions,” said Miranda. “It seems fitting that the endowment is for a coaching position, as coaches are the ones who oversee and nourish these important lessons that lead to character, often without the awareness of the athlete.”
Added Hatta, “The events of the last year proved to the Stanford wrestling program that it's not enough to maintain a nationally competitive program. We must create a financially sustainable program as well.”