Fisher announces wrestling's return to athletics offerings

COURTESY OF ST. JOHN FISHER COLLEGE

The St. John Fisher College Department of Athletics is expanding its athletic offerings by bringing back men’s wrestling to its program.  

The Cardinals will now offer 25 sports at the varsity level and Fisher will join a group of 113 wrestling programs from across the Division III landscape. The college will start a national search for its next head coach with a full competition schedule set to begin in 2022. 

“We are very excited about reintroducing wrestling to our intercollegiate sport portfolio,” said Bob Ward, who has served as director of athletics for more than 30 years. “Not only is wrestling one of the fastest growing sports at the high school level, but this addition will allow us to continue to engage potential student-athletes in meaningful ways.” 

Fisher was one of the region’s top wrestling programs from 1965 to 1983. Over its 18-year history, Fisher boasted numerous Catholic National Champions and had several wrestlers compete in the NCAA Division III Championship and NAIA Championship, including All-American Sandy Spero and Jerry DeHey, both of whom are in the college’s Athletics Hall of Fame.  

The return of the wrestling program is boosted by a $400,000 gift from alumnus and trustee William Pellicano and Tracy Pellicano to create a wrestling room, which is under construction and will be open for use before the start of training.  

“We are grateful for this gift from the Pellicano family,” Fisher President Gerard Rooney said. “Bill’s legacy of commitment to Fisher includes his dedicated service to the board of trustees as well as his long record of philanthropy. His support of Fisher athletics, in particular, has impacted experiences for Fisher student-athletes, visitors and fans. The William J. Pellicano Pavilion has been a wonderful addition to Growney Stadium. His most recent gift will help establish a dedicated space for our new wrestling program, adding to the prestige of our athletic offerings.”  

William and Tracy Pellicano donate $400,000 to St. John Fisher College in support of the Joseph Pellicano Wrestling Pavilion.

The Joseph Pellicano Wrestling Pavilion, named in honor of Pellicano’s father, will be located in Michaelhouse, adjacent to Growney Stadium and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Athletic Complex. A portion of this gift will also honor his parents, Joseph and Josephine Pellicano, in the Hermance Family Chapel of St. Basil the Great. 

Pellicano said his father, who lost an arm and leg in a farming accident at 3 years old, serves as his role model for strength and determination. He hopes student-athletes who hear his father’s story will be equally inspired as they enter the field of competition, as he was while a member of Fisher’s football team. 

“My parents’ strong faith has always inspired me throughout my life, and my participation in Fisher athletics was an integral part of my college experience and my path to where I am today,” Pellicano said. “I am proud to have the opportunity to honor my parents through the support of Fisher’s wrestling program and the Hermance Family Chapel.”