President of wrestling club out to claim title

Wrestling is one of business major Ken Hird’s first memories.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was young,” Hird said. “That’s the first memory I’ve had since I was 9 — getting on the mat.”
Now the Florida Gulf Coast University senior wrestles state and national champions with his fellow Eagles as a member of the FGCU wrestling team, a club sport.
“I’ve been a wrestler with FGCU since my freshman year in 2010,” Hird said. “I climbed the ranks. I was the vice president for three years, and now in my senior year I’m president.”
Saturday, Hird will travel with his teammates to the University of Central Florida to compete for a conference title.
“We compete in some NCAA tournaments,” Hird said. “No offense to hockey or basketball, but we compete in tougher tournaments than they do. We’ve competed in South Carolina, Georgia. We don’t go to any rinky-dink tournaments.”
And the team is anything but rinky-dink.
FGCU wrestling coach Pat Milkovich is inducted into three wrestling halls of fame, including the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. FGCU’s Giovanni Jiovenetta pinned the No. 1 wrestler in his weight class. And Hird attributes his life-saving heroics to his wrestling career.
Last year, Hird saved a suicidal student who was trying to drown himself in the waterfront. After pulling him out of the lake, Hird restrained the student until UPD and EMS arrived, a heroic action for which he was honored by UPD.
“Wrestling has taught me to push myself and it’s kept me out of trouble,” Hird said. “If it wasn’t for wrestling, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s made me into a better man.”
The team practices five days a week at Alico Arena. Upon its recent instatement as a booster club, the team was given new gear and a chance to wrestle with the best competition.
Hird says his favorite part of the sport is pushing past his limits. He relates this to the challenges of college and constantly learning and achieving new highs.
As the team heads to its conference championship in Orlando to face its rival UCF, Hird knows the title is within grasp for the Eagles.
“There’s nothing we can’t do,” Hird said. “I just want to wrestle to the best of my abilities. We’re looking to take home a conference title and raise more awareness for the wrestling team. “