By Gina Perry for Intermat
The University of Pennsylvania announced their new Assistant Coach today, one who is familiar with the program and its principles—BJ Futrell, a former PRTC athlete and incredible asset to the Philadelphia wrestling community.
Futrell was most recently the Director of Mentoring for Beat the Streets Philadelphia where he worked very closely with Penn Wrestling, Drexel Wrestling, and the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center to deliver mentoring and academic enrichment to BTSP Student-athletes. Thus Futrell will prove to be a tremendous asset to Penn’s program both on and off the mat.
Futrell returns to coaching after serving as an Assistant Coach at the United States Naval Academy during the 2019-2020 season. Under his leadership, Navy qualified five wrestlers for the NCAA Tournament and crowned two EIWA champions. Additionally, Navy had three wrestlers become NWCA Scholar All-Americans.
Collegiately, Futrell was a 2x All-American for the University of Illinois. He was a 3x Academic All-Big Ten selection, and achieved NWCA Scholar All-American status twice. Futrell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology in 2012, and earned a Masters of Education in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership in 2013.
As a member of the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center from 2016-2019, Futrell was an essential member of the Philadelphia wrestling eco-system as he participated as a mentor for the BTS program, offered team clinics and spoke at various FCA events. Futrell was the first PRTC athlete to become a member of the U.S. National Team, which he accomplished in 2017. Throughout his career, Futrell placed at over 20 different Senior-level events and won titles at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, the Bill Farrell International and the Ion Corneanu & Ladislau Simon Memorial.
Despite facing various injuries over the course of his athletic career, BJ’s positive attitude, faith and solid understanding of discipline and hard work, continues to propel his career forward. “Beat the Streets Philadelphia is an amazing organization and I am super proud of the impactful work we were able to accomplish for our students during this extremely challenging academic year. BTS is positively altering life’s trajectory for students in under invested communities and I’m glad that in my new position at Penn, I will be able to strengthen the partnership between BTS and the University. At this time I feel a calling on my life to go back into coaching. The opportunity to learn from a Hall of Fame Coach like Coach Reina, who is CEO-minded and also understands the importance of community, I had to take it. The University of Pennsylvania athletic department as a whole, and the wrestling team, has a set of core values that I truly believe in. The University of Pennsylvania is a world class institution, and I am passionate about the holistic development of these students athletes; I am excited to not only help them become better wrestlers, but better men.”
Futrell was welcomed into the infamous wrestling room earlier this week by UPenn’s team, “BJ brings tremendous talent, and a broad experience set both nationally and internationally to Penn Wrestling at exactly the right time in our national climb,” said Reina. “Moreover, he embodies our program’s core values of Character First, Aiming Big, and Community Matters.”
The energy and experience Futrell has to offer, will prove to be valuable as UPenn once again takes the mat and enters the competitive scene after taking a season off due to Covid restrictions.