Chun, a two-time Olympian, is the University of Iowa’s first wrestling coach.
Former Olympic wrestling coach Clarissa Chun was named the first head coach of the University of Iowa’s women’s wrestling team on Thursday.
On September 23, the UI officially added women’s wrestling to its list of sponsored sports. Iowa is the first power five institution to introduce a women’s wrestling program.
“Clarissa is a perfect fit to guide us on our journey to building a wrestling-wrestling program for women,” Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said in a press release Thursday. “Your references speak for themselves and your approach and philosophy go well with our win. Graduate. Do it right. Values.”
Iowa added women’s wrestling to resolve a year-long court battle with four former Hawkeye swimmers: Sage Ohlensehlen, Kelsey Drake, Alexa Puccini and Christina Kaufman.
The swimmers filed their Title IX complaint against the UI in September 2020. The two sides reached an agreement in October 2021.
The deal required the UI to add a female wrestling program, maintain its female swimming program, and pay $ 400,000 in damages to the female swimmers.
The Title IX complaint was originally filed in August 2020 after the UI announced that it would cut its swimming, men’s tennis, and gymnastics programs for men and women towards the end of the 2020-21 academic year. While women’s swimming was reintroduced on a permanent basis, men’s swimming, tennis and gymnastics were permanently discontinued.
Chun previously worked for USA Wrestling, where she was assistant coach for the women’s national team from 2017 to 21. Working under former Hawkeye wrestler and national champion Terry Steiner, Chun helped the US win 17 world medals as well as Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals.
“I am grateful for coach Terry Steiner’s guidance and mentoring and look forward to continuing our partnership and developing future national, world and Olympic champions for the United States of America,” Chun said in the press release. “I can’t thank USA Wrestling enough for helping me grow as a person and a coach.”
Chun was an accomplished wrestler before she started coaching. Chun competed in the Olympics twice and finished fifth in the 2008 Beijing, China Games. She won the Olympic bronze medal at the 2012 London Games.
Chun took part in international competitions for more than 18 years and took part in five senior world championships. She won a gold medal at the Senior World Championships in Tokyo, Japan in 2008.
At the national level, Chun won five US Open Championships.
Before she competed nationally and internationally, she did so collegially at Missouri Valley College. Chun formed her first U.S. Seniors Women’s National Team while she was a student at Missouri Valley College.
Chun has experience in college-level wrestling coaching. She previously worked as a surgical assistant on the West Virginia University wrestling team.
Chun will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in June 2022.
Chun was inducted into the Missouri Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame, the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame, and the Roosevelt High School Hall of Fame in 2018.
“Gary Barta and Barbara Burke said from the start they would target the best person for the job, and they did just that,” said Tom Brands, head coach of men’s wrestling Iowa. “Clarissa Chun has charisma. She has certificates. She has championships. She has respect and the wrestlers who come to school here will love her. This is a big deal for the University of Iowa. “
The Iowa men’s wrestling program has won 24 national team titles and 37 Big Ten team championships. 85 Hawkeyes have won individual national titles and 207 have won the Big Ten individual championships.
Iowa men’s wrestling has produced 352 All-Americans in its more than 100-year history.
“It is an honor to be part of a historic and exciting opportunity for young women across the country to compete as Hawkeyes in women’s wrestling,” Chun said in the press release. “I would like to thank Gary Barta, Barbara Burke, and Tom Brands for their initiative and leadership, which will have a positive and lasting impact on the wrestling world. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work and investment from the members of the community and the University of Iowa administration, and I thank everyone who worked to make this possible.
“It is a privilege to be part of the Hawkeye brand,” added Chun. “This goes hand in hand with great responsibility and high expectations. I am ready to face these challenges and look forward to building a successful program in Iowa City – Wrestling Town, USA. “