By Mandy Stanage Shoptaw | Photography by Benjamin Krain
In wrestling “you go” means now is the time to make a move, go for the win! Lee and Greg Hatcher bring that “you go” spirit to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Wrestling Program. This month, UA Little Rock will honor the Hatchers for their commitment to the university at SpectacUALR – the athletic department’s annual fundraising event.
Greg and Lee are well-known for The Hatcher Agency – the family’s insurance agency in Downtown Little Rock – and for their civic leadership, but what many may not realize is the family’s devotion to the sport of wrestling.
“I thought my husband had lost his mind when he had our five-year-old son wrestling,” Lee remembers. “He was little and would occasionally lose matches after being twisted up like a pretzel so I thought wrestling was horrible. But you have to invest in your child’s passion. Eventually I began to see the benefits. The kids were learning work ethic, character, competitiveness, failure, health, strength and sportsmanship. ”
Greg’s interest in wrestling started in high school and continued through college, “I’m a big fan of wrestling because of what it develops in kids. When I was in college I made a promise to myself that when I made some money I would always give back and support the programs that were so helpful to me and other kids.” Today, Greg is considered the “Father of Arkansas Wrestling” and is the founder of The Arkansas Wrestling Association.
With the addition of the Hatcher Wrestling Center, UA Little Rock will benefit from Greg’s passionate support of this sport. UA Little Rock will recognize Greg and Lee at SpectacUALR. “This event is the UA Little Rock Department of Athletics’ premiere fundraising event,” notes UA Little Rock Director of Athletic Development Tyson Baldwin. “A Trojan tradition since 2009, SpectacUALR helps support all 15 Little Rock athletic programs and nearly 220 student-athletes. It has become the largest fundraiser for UA Little Rock.”
Greg’s praise for the wrestling program includes not only the students, but visionary leadership. “Chancellor Andrew Rogerson listened to our proposal and said yes rather quickly to wrestling because it was good for kids and would bring new students to the university. It’s so much easier to say no and stay status quo, but he and Coach Neil Erisman are committed to bringing a first class Division I Program to UA Little Rock.”
Tyson says that the university is excited to have an opportunity to honor the Hatchers for their commitment to the school. “They have done a tremendous amount for youth sports across Arkansas and especially within the Little Rock community. We are proud to have them as part of the Trojan family. We can’t wait for our wrestling season to get started in November.”