Lock Haven alumnus, wife make major gift in support of Bald Eagle wrestling program

Lock Haven


Dr. Ed Shifflett, Ph.D, a 1996 alumnus of Lock Haven University, and his wife, Dr. Gretchen Shifflett, DVM, recently provided a transformative endowment to the men's wrestling program at Commonwealth University-Lock Haven. Their major gift aims to provide increased scholarship funding to further propel "The Rise" of the Bald Eagles' nationally renowned wrestling program.

The "why" behind the Shiffletts' gift is incredibly important. Reflecting on his own life's journey, Ed passionately champions the value of perseverance, and the role that mentors and peers - including Gretchen - have contributed to his own success.

He draws parallels between the underdog culture of Lock Haven wrestling and its personification of the resilience required to overcome life's challenges - lauding wrestlers' commitment to self, team and community embodied by the student-athletes and coaches who represent the program.

"Wrestlers train like animals when no one's watching. Come match time, they may get tilted, but the only thing they know is to keep on fighting like a dog," Shifflett said. "They might not win every match, but they know that every point makes a difference. They know that there's always something bigger that they're fighting for."

For the Shiffletts, the significance of Lock Haven wrestling - known as Mat-Town, USA - goes far beyond mere wins, losses and stats.

Along with the program's impact on the city of Lock Haven, they believe the inspirational work-ethic displayed by Bald Eagle wrestlers is a microcosm for life, illustrating that even in the aftermath of individual defeat or adversity, every point earned, whether on the mat or morally, is a contribution to something greater than oneself. It's a core value Shifflett witnessed firsthand as a Lock Haven student, and one he believes played a major role in his own personal and professional achievements.

"People see my successes, personally and professionally, from the outside," Shifflett said. "What they don't see is that a whole lot went wrong before it went right. We all get kicked in the teeth in life, but success is often the result of surrounding yourself with the right people; people who make you better and inspire you to persevere." 

Growing up in Lewistown, Shifflett endured domestic turmoil and childhood trauma that he overcame. Upon arriving at The Haven, influential professors and figures like former Lock Haven head wrestling coaches Carl Poff and Neil Turner had a profound impact on him.

Although he did not wrestle for Lock Haven, stating that he simply just wasn't good enough, Shifflett fondly recalls his loyal fandom as a student. He graduated just one year before Lock Haven's best finish in school history, the 1996-97 season in which the Bald Eagles finished the year fifth in the country at the NCAA Division I wrestling championship and crowned five All-Americans, including National Champion Cary Kolat.

Nearly three decades later, Shifflett is still an avid supporter of the program and current head coach Scott Moore, who Shifflett believes outstandingly upholds Mat-Town, USA's legacy of turning great wrestlers into even greater men.

The Shiffletts hope their generosity enables student-athletes to flourish not only on the mat, but also personally and academically under the tutelage of Moore, assistant coach Ronnie Perry '18 (2018 National Runner-Up) and other members of The Haven family.

The Shiffletts also hope their testimony serves as a rallying cry for fellow alumni, fans and supporters to join their efforts to preserve the 86-year legacy of Lock Haven wrestling, whether through financial contributions, volunteerism, increased match attendance and other forms of support.

"The Lock Haven wrestling program develops outstanding wrestlers, but it's even better at developing great men," Shifflett said. "Most of these kids aren't going to become professional athletes, but because of coach Moore and coach Perry, I know that they will surely be successful in their personal and professional lives."