NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. – The National Wrestling Media Association (NWMA) has announced its annual award winners for the 2017-18 season, and Upper Iowa University’s Howie Thompson has been named Small College Sports Information Director of the Year.
“I am surprised, honored and humbled to receive this honor from the National Wrestling Media Association and to represent all the hard working Division II, III, NAIA and NCJAA athletic communicators who cover the sport of wrestling,” said Thompson. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with our Peacock wrestling program over the last twelve years and loved this year’s experience on the national level with the NCAA Division II Rankings Committee, the Jim Koch Division II Hall of Fame and the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids. When I started, wrestling was a foreign sport to this old basketball player and coach, but Head Coach Heath Grimm and I spent hours each week talking about the sport in terms of strategy and scoring to get me up to speed.”
The NWMA is the national professional organization for journalists who cover the sport of amateur wrestling. This includes reporters, editors, publishers, webmasters, photographers, broadcasters, athletic communications professionals and other media professionals who share an interest and involvement in the sport. The organization was founded in 1989. Awards will be presented to those in attendance at the 2018 Men’s Freestyle World Cup April 7 in Iowa City.
“Between the membership and the officers, we were presented with a solid group of nominees and we’re pleased to recognize these individuals not just for a job well done, but for a job well done in covering a sport that’s near and dear to everyone within the organization,” said NWMA President Jason Bryant.
Thompson is in his 16th year at Upper Iowa University and 12th as the Director of Sports Communication. Beginning in the summer of 2006, Thompson was named as the Director of Sports Communication at UIU. He has served as the Sports Information Director for five NCAA events: the NCAA Women’s Golf North Regional in 2007, the NCAA Wrestling National Championships in 2008, the NCAA Wrestling Super Regional 3 in 2013 and the NCAA Volleyball National Championships in 2014 and the most recent NCAA Wrestling National Championship in Cedar Rapids this past March.
“I certainly need to thank the people that helped me to earn this honor,” Thompson said. “First, my athletic directors at Upper Iowa, Gil Cloud, David Miller and Rick Hartzell have always supported our office with the resources needed to successfully promote not only Peacock athletics, but wrestling at the NCAA Division II level. Coach Grimm, and his assistants Nate Skaar, Carl Broghammer and Jordan Roths, also are great to work with and are willing to be a part of the process. My graduate assistant this year, Zach Carlyle, has had to take on some of the work with wrestling too and has been outstanding. Finally, my support staff at home. I could not put in the time and work the odd hours to be Upper Iowa’s Director of Sports Communication without a wonderful family led by my wife Jenni and twins Addie and Hayden.”
In 2017, Thompson became the media contact for the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association for Rankings, Awards and the Jim Koch Hall of Fame. Thompson’s work in 2017 was especially notable due to the work noted above with handling the awards, rankings and championships. Professional and reliable on every level, Thompson’s work was highly beneficial to everyone in and around Division II wrestling.
“All of us in the Athletic Department are extremely proud of our colleague, Howie Thompson, for this wonderful and much-deserved award,” UIU Director of Athletics Rick Hartzell said. “Howie has done great work at Upper Iowa for a long while now and for others to recognize the excellent work that he does and that we have become so accustomed to is a testament to his work ethic and talent.”
John Peterson, KVSC 88.1 FM, St. Cloud, Minnesota, was named Broadcaster of the Year. Alex Steen, The Open Mat, was awarded Journalist of the Year. Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com, was selected as Photographer of the Year. FivePointMove.com was selected as Website of the Year. Mat Talk Fan Guides, Mat Talk Online, was chosen as Publication of the Year. Leah Howard, University of Michigan, is Division I SID of the Year. United World Wrestling Media Team was named New Media Specialists of the Year. John Sachs received the Jay Hammond Memorial Service Award.
“Each year, making selections is becoming tougher and tougher due to the talented field of nominees. What’s also made this more enjoyable is we’ve been able to find more avenues to recognize people who have done a tremendous job in their pocket of the wrestling world,” said Bryant.