The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

STAFF PICKS: What sport should EIU add?

Ashanti Thomas
EIU’s softball team cheer on the Panther Marching Band during its performance at the Ohio Valley Conference. Friday, March 5, 2023.

The Sports Staff shared what sport they think Eastern should add to the athletic department. 


Zaria Flippin (Head Sports Editor): Women’s Gymnastics 

If Eastern could add another sport to the school, I would love for Eastern to add a women’s gymnastics team. 

Gymnastics is such a beautiful sport to watch, and I think Eastern would have a pretty good gymnastics program. 

Gymnastics is one of the sports that has a lot to offer: uneven bars, floor exercise, rings, beam, etc. 

In my opinion, uneven bars are the best event in gymnastics to watch because of the complexity. The precision that uneven bars require is incredible to watch, and I think this sport would also bring in a big audience. 

Gymnastics is an agile sport, as it takes a lot of technique that people wouldn’t necessarily think one would need to be a good gymnast. 

I know gymnastics is seen mostly in bigger schools like Louisiana State University, University of Kentucky and Stanford University. However, there are gymnastics programs at smaller schools like Gustavus Adolphus College, Springfield College and Centenary College of Louisiana. 

Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) and Lindenwood University, two schools that are in the Ohio Valley Conference in most sports, also have gymnastics programs. 

Both Lindenwood and SEMO compete in the Midwest Independent Conference. 

I think gymnastics is a sport that would get a lot of attraction from Eastern fans and even alumni because of how big gymnastics is getting lately. 

There are 81 NCAA colleges that offer women’s gymnastics, so why can’t Eastern be number 82? 


Luther Yoder (Assistant Sports Editor): Men’s Wrestling 

I believe that men’s wrestling should be added. It is a sport that Eastern had until it was stopped in 2007. 

There are three schools that EIU regularly plays that have a men’s wrestling team: Lindenwood, University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Southern Illinois Edwardsville (SIUE). Only one of these schools has a higher enrollment– SIUE with 12,045— than Eastern– 8,804. Lindenwood and Little Rock have lower enrollment with 7,288 and 8,103. 

If these schools of relatively the same size can have a men’s wrestling team, then Eastern should also be able to have a team. Eastern has had a team before, so it’s not like it would be something new. 

I only say that they should add a men’s team and not a women’s team because there are fewer female wrestlers and fewer colleges that have a women’s wrestling team. Since Eastern is a smaller school, it would be a lot harder for them to be able to get female wrestlers and find teams to play that are somewhat equal to them. The University of Illinois doesn’t even have a women’s wrestling team, and it has an enrollment of 56,403 students. 


Gabe Newman (Sports Reporter): Men’s Volleyball 

It’s a real shame that Eastern doesn’t have a men’s volleyball team. Unlike hockey, wrestling or rugby where there would need to be a facility built, Eastern’s campus already has everything it needs to support a men’s volleyball program. 

One thing that drives the attendance of basketball in conference play is the double headers when the women’s basketball team plays first, and the men’s team plays the same school after. I think it’s a real shame that the volleyball team doesn’t get an opportunity to capitalize on that. 

It would be a major boost to women’s volleyball at Eastern if they were able to play on the same day as a men’s team. It would also add another collegiate program into the mix and give more athletes opportunities to play. 

Who knows, if Eastern adds men’s volleyball maybe other schools in the Ohio Valley Conference follow and add men’s programs of their own. We saw men’s soccer in the OVC for the first time this season with four OVC schools and four affiliate members making up the eight-team conference, so it’s not at all out of the range of possibilities. Groniger Arena only plays host to women’s volleyball in the fall, so it would make sense to add such a popular sport into the mix of current Panther sports. 


Cameron Thomas (Sports Reporter): Wrestling 

The one sport I would add to Eastern is wrestling. I would add wrestling because it is all around the state and even the country. 

There are thousands of wrestlers in the country who could showcase their skills and turn Eastern into a great wrestling program, which could benefit the rest of the school. I also say wrestling because a lot of Eastern athletes were dual-sport athletes in high school and were most likely good at wrestling. Those athletes can’t continue their wrestling career here because there is no program. 

Wrestling can help those athletes in the other sports that they play. Wrestling can help with balance and knowing how to use your leverage and hands. Wrestling was a sport at Eastern many years ago, which showed that there are athletes who will come to Eastern to wrestle. I think it would be much easier of a transition than to add a completely new sport in which you have no idea who would commit to playing. 

I feel that out of all the sports that Eastern could potentially add, wrestling could be the most successful at becoming a stable program because it is a common sport that other colleges have, but Eastern does not have. 


Chloe Proffitt (Sports Reporter): Men’s Volleyball 

I think EIU should add men’s volleyball. 

Volleyball is a very interesting sport already, and our women’s team has had a lot of success recently. 

Men’s volleyball would also bring attention to the school. It is a fast-growing sport and intriguing to watch. 

A men’s volleyball team would also help the women’s team have extra people to practice with and push them. Creating a men’s volleyball program at Eastern would also be less expensive. 

The school would only have to pay for coaching staff, transportation, tournament entries and uniforms because Eastern already has the facilities. 

There are also not many NCAA Division I men’s volleyball teams either, which would make it easier to go for a national title. 

Overall, men’s volleyball is a very fast-paced sport that would be able to keep people focused on the game. This addition would also help benefit the women, and it would be less expensive to add in comparison to other sports that would need a whole new facility and more equipment. 


Aidan Cusack (Sports Reporter): Women’s Rugby 

If I could add a sport to Eastern’s roster, I would add women’s rugby.   

As it turns out, Eastern already has a rich history with the sport.  

Eastern’s rugby program started in 1999 when head coach Frank Graziano was hired to build a women’s team. From 1999 to the sport’s suspension in 2015, Eastern rugby won four NCAA Division I tournament games and sent an athlete to the Olympics. In the 16-year stretch of Eastern rugby’s existence, the team had only two losing seasons, 2013 and 2014. Graziano retired in 2016, and the team left with him.  

Combining Eastern’s storied history with a growing interest in rugby would be exciting.  

Speaking as a fan, the environment of rugby games can be as electric as football and basketball. Women’s rugby at Eastern also couples nicely with football, providing women with a fall contact sport. The soccer pitch is perfect for a location, and I’m sure Eastern could field a team.  


Patrick Schmitz (Sports Reporter): Water Polo 

There are many sports that Eastern does not have. Of the ones that the university does not have, water polo is not one you would think of right away. However, water polo is a lot of fun to watch, and we would not need much new equipment. 

Water polo is a full contact sport, which makes the entertainment value go up. In water polo, you can drown someone for three seconds, and it is perfectly legal. The game is fast-paced and generally high scoring. 

Entertainment value is just one reason Eastern should get water polo as a sport. Another reason is that Eastern already has most of the equipment. The only equipment that Eastern would need is two nets for the pool. 

If Eastern were to get a new sport, water polo would be practical as few new things are needed. Also, if the Eastern swim team were to only swim in the spring semester, there would already be many athletes potentially available for the water polo season. 

Eastern would not need to get a whole new batch of athletes. Instead, it would be able to use the crop of athletes that are already here. 

Overall, water polo is a great sport to draw students to watch, but also it would be easy to start. For some other sports like wrestling, Eastern would need to find new athletes. For other sports like hockey, Eastern would need to find where to play. So overall, water polo would be a great new sport for practicality and entertainment. 


Payton Liggins (Sports Reporter): Wrestling 

One sport that a lot of people either know a lot about or very little about is wrestling. Therefore, adding a wrestling team to our already impressive roster of student athletes will be beneficial. 

Wrestling is a well-liked sport with a sizable fan base. Having it back at Eastern will foster a stronger sense of school spirit and community involvement.  

For starters, wrestling is a grueling sport, requiring discipline, focus and grit. Students who take on this challenge gain life skills like teamwork, perseverance and good sportsmanship. Plus, with multiple schools here, wrestling can help gain more attention in the Charleston area.  

Wrestling is a magnet for passionate fans, stirring up school spirit and pride. When colleges have wrestling teams, the campus buzzes with a sense of community. 

Cheering on the team can even become a bonding experience for students and alumni alike. 

Reviving the wrestling team would enable Eastern to give its student-athletes greater financial aid, which would draw skilled wrestlers to the university. 

In conclusion, the reinstatement of the wrestling team would contribute to Eastern’s continued standing as a well-rounded university providing a broad spectrum of academic and extracurricular activities. Wrestling would provide Eastern a competitive edge over other local universities and give students another opportunity to get active on campus and develop. 


The Sports Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 


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About the Contributors
Chandler Smith, Reporter
Chandler Smith is a senior broadcast journalism major. He previously served as a reporter at The News.
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.