December 1, 2022

New Sports on the Horizon

UM Hires Head Coach for New Collegiate Cycling Team

Jennifer Nichols has been hired as the first head coach of the University’s new collegiate cycling team created in the fall of 2021.

Nichols previously served as the team director and coach of the Helena High School Mountain Bike Team from September 2019 to July 2022. She is USA Cycling Safe Sport trained, has a coaching certification from the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) and has completed the Bike Instructor Certification Program. Nichols is also a Level 3 certified USA Cycling coach.

“I would like to thank Dr. Stewart for this amazing opportunity to be the head coach for the University of Montevallo’s cycling team,” Nichols said. “The University’s passion and energy to develop the first collegiate varsity cycling program in the state of Alabama was evident from the initial interview.”

“I’m overwhelmed with excitement to lead this new cycling program and build a diverse team of hard-working, competitive athletes. I’m honored to be a part of the UM family.”

The team already has several student cyclists preparing for the upcoming season, and by the time the full team starts competing in fall 2023, it’s expected that Nichols will have recruited many more cyclists.

UM is transforming the former Montevallo Golf Club into a premier cycling course that will serve as the home trail for the team. The course will host competitions regularly, bringing hundreds of visitors to Shelby County and the City of Montevallo and strengthening the area’s economy. The course will feature a bike shop, wash station and storage and work areas for each student-athlete on the team.

Montevallo Adds Men’s Wrestling, Names Daniel Ownbey as Program’s First Coach

UM Athletics recently announced the addition of men’s wrestling, marking the University’s 22nd intercollegiate athletic sport.

With the addition of men’s wrestling, Montevallo became the second University in the state to offer the sport — the first at the NCAA Division II level — and is the only school in the Gulf South Conference to add wrestling.

“We are really excited to serve wrestling student-athletes coming into the Falcon family,” President Stewart said. “Too many of our high school wrestlers have had to leave Alabama to compete at the highest levels, so we are very pleased to keep them right here in their home state.”

Daniel Ownbey has been hired as the first head coach for the men’s wrestling program. Ownbey comes to Montevallo from Wheeling University where he served as head coach for two years.

“I would like to thank Dr. Stewart and Mark Richard for the opportunity to become the first head wrestling coach at the University of Montevallo,” Ownbey said. “I am extremely excited to return to the South and begin building what will be a successful program. There are amazing things in the future for the University of Montevallo, and I am excited to be a part of the family.”

During his coaching experience, Ownbey has helped tutor a combined 17 regional placers and seven national qualifiers. While at Newberry College, he was part of a program that placed five wrestlers at the NCAA Super Region 2 Tournament and had four qualifiers for the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships.

“Daniel has the opportunity to change the landscape of college wrestling in Alabama,” Richard said. “Montevallo will be the only Division II institution sponsoring the sport and providing wrestling scholarships to prospective wrestling student-athletes.”

The wrestling team will begin competing in fall 2023.