Posted: Oct 01, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--An axiom that Steve Sugermeyer '78 often lives by during his four-decade association with Western New England University is "From day one, I always tried to help the wrestling program put your best foot forward."
During Homecoming Weekend, the former accounting major took a giant leap forward into the annals of all-time Golden Bear greats when he was enshrined as a member of the University's Athletics Downes Hall of Fame. Sugermeyer joined five other Western New England greats who comprised the 16th class inducted to the Downes Hall during a ceremony held at Rivers Memorial Hall.
Known as a pioneer in the sport of wrestling at the University, Sugermeyer competed on the grassroots club team as a freshman in 1974-75 that led to varsity status two years later.
In his sophomore year, he was the junior varsity captain and team most valuable player in 1975-76. He placed second at the 1976 New England Junior Varsity Championships in the 118-pound division.
As a junior member of the first varsity squad in 1976-77, Sugermeyer turned in an even better performance than the prior season by finishing with a 13-1 record and qualifying for the national championships--among the first class of WNE wrestlers to do so. As a result, he was the recipient of what is now known as the Joe Leto Award for greatest contribution to team effort.
A two-time varsity captain, he wrapped up his career after the 1977-78 season as a senior scholar-athlete and all-college performer. He wrestled at the 118 weight class during his collegiate career.
"Coming to a college acknowledging that my wrestling career (I thought) was over (after high school) only to be instrumental in the program's start-up, earning the team MVP our first year, being named the college's scholar-athlete as a senior and joining WNE's first class of national qualifiers are special to me," Sugermeyer describes as his¬†most memorable moments as a student-athlete here.
While attending graduate school and maintaining a full-time at the same time, Sugermeyer stayed on with the program for the 1978-79 campaign helping then-Coach Bob Skelton. Sugermeyer also earned a Master of Science in Accounting from Western New England in 1980.
Sugermeyer recalls the best advice his college coach gave him occurred during a road trip to Plymouth, N.H., saying "Once on a trip to Plymouth State while as the team's 118-pound wrestler, I attempted to come to the defense of our heavyweight (but) Coach instructed me to keep the 'guinea' in me!"
He still remains close to his athletic pursuit at his alma mater, serving as a two-year Faculty Fellow to the team and he has had three stints (1979-80, 1984-86 and 2002) as a volunteer assistant coach at under Skelton. In addition, he has been active in the community as a Western Massachusetts wrestling official from 1978-86 and coaching the youth wrestling program at the Scantic Valley YMCA in Wilbraham for the past 10 years. "I'll periodically lace up the wrestling shoes and wrestle at practice," adds Sugermeyer.
Sugermeyer also stays active by road biking, competing in five Olympic distance triathlons and running in 33 marathons including 17 in the famed Boston Marathon.
Today, Sugermeyer is a General Partner at Gauthier & Sugermeyer, CPA, in Ludlow, Mass., and he has been a full-time faculty member at Western New England from 1989-90 and then 11 of the past 12 years. He is a professional educator of accounting in the College of Business at the University. His teaching career began as an adjunct instructor at Western New England in 1986.
He makes his home in Hampden with his wife, Tracey, and the couple has three children: Laura (25), Michael (23) and Kevin (21).
Being a Golden Bear and earning his bachelor's and master's degree at the University have had a profound impact on Sugermeyer's life since adulthood.
"I never thought that WNE would have had so much influence on my life. I was a commuter who came to a school without wrestling. My first job in public accounting was at one of my professor's firms. I have coached here at WNE. I have taught here at WNE. I met my wife here at WNE at a wrestling function. I currently serve as the wrestling team's faculty fellow. My son, Michael, is currently the assistant coach here at WNE, so I can't wait to see the fruits of his current recruits this upcoming wrestling season."
Steve's son, Michael, was his induction presenter. In addition to coaching, Michael works as a media services technology support assistant at the University.