John Hangey ’93, MA ’97 was a Rider student athlete, an All-American, and now is the associate head coach of a successful wrestling program that was ranked in the top 25 in the nation earlier this season.
It seems as if Hangey has done it all as far as his athletic career stands. As a student athlete at Rider, Hangey was the fifth wrestler to achieve All-American status. He finished with a career record of 108-24 on the mat and went 11-6 in four years at the NCAA tournament, the best record by a Rider athlete in the national competition.
“It was the environment and the coaching,” Hangey says about his wrestling years. “I was able to grow and develop as an athlete with Head Coach Gary Taylor, who really knew how to get me to the next level.”
Hangey graduated in 1993 with a degree in history and then continued his education at Rider, pursuing his master’s degree in human services administration with a certification in advanced governmental administration. He became a graduate assistant for the program during that time until 1997.
The following year, Hangey was offered the opportunity to become the head coach at Bucknell University. The chance left him at a crossroads. Despite going to Bucknell and leading the program for three years, Hangey never forgot where everything started.
After his time at Bucknell, Hangey called Taylor to see if there was room on his staff, and consequently Taylor created a new position to bring back his former All-American wrestler. Now in his 13th season, Hangey has assisted in keeping Rider’s wrestling program as competitive as ever. The Broncs were ranked as high as 22nd in the nation during the 2013 season.
“When we recruit kids, we tell them, ‘You’re coming here to go to class, get a degree and be on a wrestling team that you’re responsible for making as good as possible,’” Hangey says. “That means you’re going to be in contention for All-American every year, or you’re going to possibly win a conference championship. Ever since I arrived here as a freshman, that has been the measuring stick. If you’re an All-American, you’re one of the best Rider’s ever had.”
Throughout his time on the staff, Hangey has enjoyed the opportunity to continue to learn and grow under Taylor. His goals are to mold young athletes and continue to make Taylor proud, and maybe someday, take over the wrestling program completely.
“Hopefully, I would be fortunate enough to become the next head coach at Rider. That would be a huge honor to me because it is my alma mater, and I met my wife here. You need to manage the program and take it to a level where Coach Taylor and Rider would be happy. That is why I do things right now. He is my mentor and he has done so many things in my life for me. There would still be a driving force. I love the fact that we put Rider on the map in the wrestling world.”