While he’s spent most of his college coaching career in Pennsylvania, Andy Vogel got his start in the northeast Ohio wrestling community.
Now, Vogel is coming back to his roots.
Hiram athletic director Todd Hibbs announced recently Vogel’s hiring as the new director of wrestling operations/men’s head wrestling coach for the Terriers.
Vogel joins Hiram after serving as the head wrestling coach and assistant director of athletics at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, over the last 13 years. His job is to relaunch the Terriers’ wrestling program, which has been dormant since 1987.
"Im pretty happy about it," Vogel said. "I’ve been away from home for about 20 years, other than coming back during summer in college. I’m very familiar with the area. I’m excited to get started.
"I was very happy at Gettysburg," he added. "I had a combination of reasons to come to Hiram. Some of it was coming home. A lot of it had to do with Todd. I knew wrestling was going to be a priority for him. To work with someone like him was something I couldn’t pass up."
A former college coach himself, Hibbs noted Vogel beat out a field of 80 applicants to win the job.
"We had coaches from as far as California apply," Hibbs said. "Andy was the first coach we had on campus to interview. We kept an open mind, but it became clearer and clearer he was the right guy. We were able to get him on board in the last 10 days.
"Andy brings tremendous experience," Hibbs said. "He’s had the job at Gettysburg College for 13 years. We wanted someone who understood the Division III model, which is different than the scholarship model for college. Andy walked in as someone who knows Division III. Plus, Andy just has a good reputation. He’s done some things in the area of journalism for Division III as well."
Along with coaching, Vogel founded d3wrestle.com, a website devoted to NCAA Division III wrestling.
A native of Stow, Vogel was a two-time Ohio High School Athletic Association state finalist and the 1999 state champion at 145 pounds for Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. In 2006, Vogel was inducted into the CVCA Athletic Hall of Fame.
CVCA wrestling coach Dave Bergen, who coached Vogel during his high school career, said he was happy to see Vogel return to Northeast Ohio.
I’m pretty excited for him," Bergen said. ""I think it’s a great opportunity for him. I followed his career. Andy is a student of the sport. So, I’m not surprised he’s done very well for himself."
A 2003 graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, Vogel was as three-time Division III All-American with the Falcons. Vogel earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Messiah and also earned a master’s degree from Northeastern University in Boston in 2016. After graduating from Messiah, Vogel began his college coaching career as an assistant coach at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
When Hibbs announced wrestling was coming back to Hiram in January, he noted that he wanted to start wrestling in time for the 2020-21 season. Both Hibbs and Vogel say that timeline remains intact, even with the challenge of the coronavirus outbreak.
"That’s what we’re hopeful for. We understand that these are some pretty unique challenges," Hibbs said. "We’re in the boat as everyone in that we can’t visit kids or have them visit campus. Of course, we are getting a late start. It will be a unique challenge."
Vogel notes he is still living in Gettysburg at the moment, but has been in contact with numerous wrestlers to recruit them.
"We’re hoping to get that first commitment soon," Vogel said. "I think it’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be hard no matter what the situation is. We just have to leverage things that make Hiram special."
Vogel notes he expects the bulk his team to come from northeast Ohio.
"I think that’s going to be a key part of my strategy," Vogel said. "When it comes right down to it, a lot of people want to stay close to home so their families can see them wrestle. In northeast Ohio, you’re close to a lot of good wrestlers."
Along with getting the men’s program up and running, one of Vogel’s top priorities will be help hire Hiram’s first women’s wrestling head coach. Hiram plans on having a women’s coach in place by fall with the program starting wrestling for the 2021-22 season.
"Women’s wrestling is growing at an extremely fast rate right now," Vogel said. "We want to find the right person who understands the women’s Olympic style and help young ladies continue in the sport."
Hibbs noted Vogel’s time as an assistant athletic director was a major plus for him in preparing for the role of director of wrestling operations.
"One of the things Andy brings is he has an understanding of all the things that need to happen off the mat," Hibbs said. "He knows about fundraising. He knows about marketing. As much as Andy likes [wrestling] technique, he knows every aspect of running a program."
The schedule is not set yet for the Terriers’ opening season, but Vogel did not rule out the possibility of facing Kent State or other Division I programs.