14 episodes

Wrestling is the world's oldest sport. In Arkansas, it's the newest.
Follow the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as it starts up a brand new sport in a place that hasn't seen major college wrestling in half a century. Rocked up follows the fledgling wrestling program as it begins from scratch with a start date of November 2019. Produced by the Mat Talk Podcast Network.

Rocked U‪p‬ Jason Bryant, Mat Talk Podcast Network

    • Wrestling
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

Wrestling is the world's oldest sport. In Arkansas, it's the newest.
Follow the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as it starts up a brand new sport in a place that hasn't seen major college wrestling in half a century. Rocked up follows the fledgling wrestling program as it begins from scratch with a start date of November 2019. Produced by the Mat Talk Podcast Network.

    BONUS: A Second-Season Update with Neil Erisman

    BONUS: A Second-Season Update with Neil Erisman

    This is a special bonus episode of #RockedUp that's actually the January 21 episode of the Short Time Wrestling Podcast. It's plugged into the feed to give subscribers an update on the program since the whistle blew on Conner Ward's first match. 
    Little Rock hosted its first home event of the year on January 17 at the Jack Stephens Center against Oklahoma State and SIUE. The tri-meet launched the second season of Little Rock wrestling on the mats. Coach Neil Erisman, an Oklahoma State alum, sat down to talk about the progress of the program in the second year of competition, what it’s like to bring in new wrestlers with something tangible to show rather than just a vision, and the investment a coach feels when they lose an athlete who doesn’t want to compete anymore. 
     
    Erisman also explains some of the things that aren’t taught, but learned on the job, such as working with mentors from the community, giving back with community outreach as well as his relationships with assistant coaches Javier Maldonado and Chandler Rogers. 

    • 50 min
    It's Time To Fight

    It's Time To Fight

    When November 24, 2019 finally came, it put a close on the building era of the Little Rock wrestling program. It’s been 616 days since the announcement during the 2018 NCAA Division I Championships of a new Division I program.

    For coach Neil Erisman, it’s been 522 days since he was introduced as the first head coach in program history. For wrestling fans in the state of Arkansas, it was a decade and a half in the making.

    The only time a major state school had sponsored wrestling, as you learned in Episode 1 of Rocked Up, came in the 1950s at Arkansas State. That was more of a pet project of a wrestling coach rather than a bonafide college athletics program. That also pre-dated the NCAA’s divisional structure.

    So history was going to be made when the first whistle blew at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 24, 2019 at the Jack Stephens Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

    These are the final hours leading to the culmination of the building process and the commencement of competition. One last practice. They weigh in, at home, for the first time, in 24 hours.
    Welcome to Rocked Up, the story of the foundation and formation of the first Division I college wrestling program in Arkansas, starting in November of 2019 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This is the finale to that story. We started the journey developing the foundation of wrestling in the state of Arkansas and now we’ve moved on to the formation of the team, because to tell the full story of this program, you have to start at the very beginning.

    Where one door closes, another opens, and in Little Rock, we close the book on how this all got started. Now, the coaches, administration and athletes at Little Rock will write their own stories.

    Thank you for listening.

    I’m Jason Bryant.
    Rocked Up is a presentation of the Mat Talk Podcast Network and can be found on the web at GetRockedUp.com or at MatTalkOnline.com.

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    • 25 min
    Optimistically Scared

    Optimistically Scared

    With the days winding down before Little Rock wrestlers take to their home mat at the Jack Stephens Center for the first time, there’s been a change at the top.

    One of the men instrumental in making Little Rock’s wrestling program a reality, Chasse Conque, left Little Rock in late August to accept the role of Athletic Director at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, which came into being after a consolidation of three separate colleges. You might have heard of Texas-Pan American. You probably haven’t.

    Conque also brought Molly Castner with him as she assumes the role of Deputy AD and Senior Women’s Administrator. This left Little Rock searching for a person to lead the department, not just into the launch of its new wrestling program, but to the lead during a time of great growth within the school’s athletics programs as a whole.

    They turned to George Lee, the standing Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Chief Financial Officer. This is a man who’s job was to make sure things were financially viable for anything to happen within Little Rock Athletics. Lee is a Little Rock alum who’s had an association with the school for over 30 years. His wife works at the school and he previously served as an interim AD in the past. Today, we learn more about Lee.

    Welcome to Rocked Up, the story of the foundation and formation of the first Division I college wrestling program in Arkansas, starting in November of 2019 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This is the 11th edition of this story. We started the journey developing the foundation of wrestling in the state of Arkansas and now we’ve moved on to the formation of the team, because to tell the full story of this program, you have to start at the very beginning.

    Lee’s background is on the financial side. While a fan of sports, he’s always been one of those administrators who didn’t have to make all the public appearances and address the people. Lee’s role is a requirement in college sports. If no one’s managing the money or asking “How do you expect to pay for that,” then you have balance sheets in the red and athletes potentially out in the cold.

    First, Lee explains how the campus has changed in size and stature since he attended in the 1980s.

    Rocked Up is a presentation of the Mat Talk Podcast Network and can be found on the web at GetRockedUp.com or at MatTalkOnline.com.

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    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    And if you're a fan of the extensive and broad-based reach of the shows on the Mat Talk Podcast Network, become a TEAM MEMBER today. There are various levels of perks for the different levels of team membership. If you like wrestling content -- scratch that -- if you LOVE great wrestling content, consider becoming a team member and supporting the show. You'll get some cool stuff too.

    • 27 min
    Help Wanted

    Help Wanted

    For a solid year, Neil Erisman was it when it came to the new wrestling program at Little Rock. He was every coach, every recruiting coordinator, he ran every errand that needed to be run. He did all this while awaiting the completion of his offices and wrestling facility and with a wife and three – soon to be four – kids at home.

    It might have been the busiest year of the young coach’s life. But when it came time to hire an assistant coach, there were over four dozen candidates interviewed. Some were close friends from his time at Oklahoma State, others were coaches who were looking for upward mobility and a good paycheck. Then there were the ones who were true coaches, but ultimately one candidate stood out above the rest.

    Coach Erisman wasn’t just hiring an assistant coach, he was hiring the other part of his staff that would create the coaching unit to pilot Little Rock wrestling into its maiden wrestling season.

    Remember the situation when Little Rock hired Erisman to be their head coach? Did they go for the high profile national champion? The seasoned Division I assistant or the sexy name hire? They went with a guy who had a passion to build and a passion to teach.

    Erisman did the same when he selected Javier Maldonado as Little Rock’s first assistant wrestling coach.

    Welcome to Rocked Up, the story of the foundation and formation of the first Division I college wrestling program in Arkansas, starting in November of 2019 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This is the 10th edition of this story. We started the journey developing the foundation of wrestling in the state of Arkansas and now we’ve moved on to the formation of the team, because to tell the full story of this program, you have to start at the very beginning.

    In 2018-19, Javier Maldonado was leading Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida to its second straight Top 20 finish at the NAIA National Championships. Southeastern was the first varsity college wrestling program in the state of Florida in nearly three decades. The school put an emphasis on wrestling and building the profile of the sport and the school, doing it with one of their native sons. Maldonado is a Florida native.

    Rocked Up is a presentation of the Mat Talk Podcast Network and can be found on the web at GetRockedUp.com or at MatTalkOnline.com.

    SUBSCRIBE & LISTEN TO THE SHOW
    Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Spreaker | RSS

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    And if you're a fan of the extensive and broad-based reach of the shows on the Mat Talk Podcast Network, become a TEAM MEMBER today. There are various levels of perks for the different levels of team membership. If you like wrestling content -- scratch that -- if you LOVE great wrestling content, consider becoming a team member and supporting the show. You'll get some cool stuff too.

    • 26 min
    First Year Down, First Year To Go

    First Year Down, First Year To Go

    One year since the hiring of Neil Erisman, things have been changing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

    Construction was starting on the new on-campus practice facility, recruits have joined Conner Ward, creating the roster for the first team that would take to the mats in November of 2019 and conference affiliation and scheduling was starting to become more prominent in coach Erisman’s day.

    That wrestling facility was set to finish in early September, just days before the official start of practice. Erisman’s wrestling family had grown, but his immediate family was growing too, as a new Erisman child was coming in the late summer.

    A year after Erisman was hired, the wrestling program started looking like it was a real wrestling program. With one year on the job done, but his first official year leading the school into uncharted waters, now the actual competitive work had to get done. Welcome to Rocked Up, the story of the foundation and formation of the first Division I college wrestling program in Arkansas, starting in November of 2019 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This is the ninth edition of this story. We started the journey developing the foundation of wrestling in the state of Arkansas and now we’ve moved on to the formation of the team, because to tell the full story of this program, you have to start at the very beginning.
    Rocked Up is a presentation of the Mat Talk Podcast Network and can be found on the web at GetRockedUp.com or at MatTalkOnline.com.

    SUBSCRIBE & LISTEN TO THE SHOW
    Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Spreaker | RSS

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    And if you're a fan of the extensive and broad-based reach of the shows on the Mat Talk Podcast Network, become a TEAM MEMBER today. There are various levels of perks for the different levels of team membership. If you like wrestling content -- scratch that -- if you LOVE great wrestling content, consider becoming a team member and supporting the show. You'll get some cool stuff too.

    • 25 min
    A Team of One

    A Team of One

    With coaches hired and administrative support set, the first whistle blows for Little Rock’s first wrestling dual in November of 2019. But even before that dual and that official season commences, there’s one athlete who’s already ready to roll.


    When new programs are started, colleges typically decide to hire a coach and recruit athletes the year prior to actual competition. Those coaches will then redshirt those athletes, allowing them to practice and preserve eligibility, but they aren’t typically competing. They’re a team, but they’re not yet a team.


    Such is the case with Conner Ward, a Kansas native who during the first semester of the 2018-19 academic year, was the ONLY wrestler at the school. A handful of wrestlers would transfer in for the second semester, but during the first semester, Conner Ward was “The Little Rock guy,” the only wrestler on a team that really didn’t even exist yet.


    Last season, Ward was the most unique wrestler in the country and today, we’ll find out how and why that materialized.


    Welcome to Rocked Up, the story of the foundation and formation of the first Division I college wrestling program in Arkansas, starting in November of 2019 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This is the eighth edition of this story. We started the journey developing the foundation of wrestling in the state of Arkansas and now we’ve moved on to the formation of the team, because to tell the full story of this program, you have to start at the very beginning.

    Rocked Up is a presentation of the Mat Talk Podcast Network and can be found on the web at GetRockedUp.com or at MatTalkOnline.com.

    SUBSCRIBE & LISTEN TO THE SHOW
    Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Spreaker | RSS

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    And if you're a fan of the extensive and broad-based reach of the shows on the Mat Talk Podcast Network, become a TEAM MEMBER today. There are various levels of perks for the different levels of team membership. If you like wrestling content -- scratch that -- if you LOVE great wrestling content, consider becoming a team member and supporting the show. You'll get some cool stuff too.

    • 24 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

wrestlingfanrobert ,

Great listen...

Very interesting to hear about the start of a big tome D1 college wrestling program in Arkansas, including the formation of HS wrestling in Arkansas which crazily just started about 12 years ago. Fast paced, good info. Give it a try.

JWeitzel6 ,

Phenomenal

Awesome and fascinating look into the development of wrestling in the state of Arkansas. Love the interviews with the actual people involved. Look forward to the next episode as soon as I finish one.

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