By Victor Milani
Jason Walters isn’t afraid of a challenge. That might be one of the reasons he agreed to assume the Nordonia High School Head wrestling coaching position this season. Nordonia Hills. News asked Jason some questions regarding his decision to try and resurrect the Nordonia Wrestling program.
- Jason: give us a brief history of your athletic career beginning from High School to being the new head wrestling coach at Nordonia this upcoming season.
I started wrestling in junior high school, 7th grade, when my football coach was also the wrestling coach and said he needed a heavy weight wrestler and I would be it. I hated the idea of it, but ended up loving it. I wrestled through high school, as an average wrestler and then wrestled in the marine corps, where I realized how mental wrestling really is. The physical part of wrestling is actually the easiest, it is the mental part that breaks most wrestler.
I began coaching at Chanel High School in 1999 under head coach Graham Coghill, where I learned so much about the sport and wrestling.
- Who are your assistants on your staff this year, and what are their backgrounds?
Assistant Head Coach, Lou Iccobino is a multi state placer for Nordonia and State Champion in 1998. He then went on to wrestle at Junior College and has been coaching for a few years.
Assistant Coach, Jason Lara is the former Head Coach of Cuyahoga Falls High School and was hired this year to be a teacher at Nordonia High School. Jason wrestled for Ravenna High School and went on to wrestle in college at Kent State University.
Assistant Coach, “The Legend”, Graham Coghill, can’t put into words what Graham brings to the sport of wrestling. Lets just say that we are extremely fortunate to have a National High School Hall of Fame Coach and my mentor.
Assistant Coach, Mack McGuire was a Pennsylvania State Champion in High School and four time NCAA Division I Qualifier at Kent State University.
Volunteer Assistant, Mike Gilmor is a multiple State place winner for Nordonia High School and National Champion at John Carroll University.
Volunteer Assistant, Marty Collins is a former State Champion of Cleveland St. Ignatius. Wrestled at Kent State University and Cleveland State University.
- One of your previous wrestling positions was as an assistant under legendary St Peter/ Chanel coach Graham Coghill. What have you learned working with him?
I learned from Graham that the more you put in as a coach, the more you will get from a team. Graham has given his life to the sport of wrestling.
- You have worked previously with many of the Nordonia wrestlers as an assistant, Who should we look to having a break through year this season?
Overall our team is going to be very young and I believe in many of these freshman. I will for now just say that senior Jimmy Breneman will do his best to have his best season.
- The Nordonia wrestling program has been on a downward swing the past few years. How do you plan to rebuild the program?
First, the Nordonia Wrestling Program hasn’t been whole for years. The success of Nordonia wrestling begins with our youth program, which is headed by one of Nordonia’s greats Tony Codner. The youth program has not been supported the way they should be. The youth program is now Nordonia wrestling. Another words it’s our lifeline. Tony and I have discussed the changes necessary to get the most out of our youth.
Middle School wrestling has truly been neglected, and where we have really made our biggest mistake. We have lost too many great youth wrestlers in the middle school program. We have changed the way the middle school team will operate. We have established a new coaching staff and have developed a training program that will progress and prepare middle school kids for high school wrestling.
The High School program has not held the entire program (wrestlers) accountable year long. Wrestling can not begin in November and end in March, you must train year round, the more you put in the more you will get out. We now have a lifting program two days a week in the mornings, and two days a week we have open mats. Tuesdays and Thursdays are our training days from 6:30a-7:30a and 6:30p-8p. We have made Nordonia wrestling whole, one family working together to be successful.
- The number of students trying out for wrestling has dwindled over the years. How can you encourage the students to give Nordonia wrestling a try?
Bottom line, kids today are soft. Our parents must push their kids to work hard at whatever they are doing. But especially in this sport. My goal is to get into their heads and make them realize that we as coaches won’t give up on them, and we believe in them and will push them to find their full potential. There is no easy way, if you want to be successful in this sport, you must be dedicated and willing to give everything you have to this sport. Parents need to quit providing excuses and just support their young athletes and the coaching staff to lead them. I will never leave a wrestler down and will always push them to find their maximum potential.
Encouraging students to wrestle isn’t the battle, finding students willing to go through the pain and sacrifice is the battle. If given the opportunity to speak with students, usually I can get them to try. Wrestling comes from within, you can’t fake it. What you put in is what you will get out.
- Can you tell us of any past Nordonia/ area wrestlers that might be coming back to help with camps and clinics?
We are speaking with many, and will utilize them as much as we can.
- You must be proud of your son Cody Walters, the former All American wrestler at Ohio University, and now an assistant coach at Gardner-Webb. Will he be making occasional visits to help you?
Whenever Cody is in town, he does stop in and teach. Cody loves giving back to the sport and yes I am extremely proud of Cody. I have been blessed with two amazing children.
- What are your realistic hopes for your first year as head Wrestling Coach at Nordonia?
Building work ethic and toughness.
- Tell us about your golf outing to help fund the plans you trying to implement in the Nordonia wrestling program.
The golf outing is vital to our program. We need training equipment, gear, uniforms and the means to pay for camps/clinics. The golf outing will help us provide all the essentials needed to be successful. This is our only fund raiser for the year. We need golfers, so I hope the golfing community would be willing to support the Nordonia Wrestling Program and sign up a fore-some the September 9th outing at Astorhurst Country Club. http://nordoniahills.news/nordonia-wrestling-golf-outing/
- Thanks Jason for taking time out of your busy schedule. Its been forty years (1977) since Nordonia earned it’s last Ohio State Wrestling title. Let’s hope you can bring glory days back to Nordonia. GOOD LUCK!