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New wrestling coach has big plans

We sat down with new head coach Jimmy Grochowsky to find out a little more about him.

Entering his first season as the head wrestling coach at Estacada High School, Jimmy Grochowsky has a roster loaded with talent. An Estacada alumnus himself, Grochowsky also boasts one of the most successful college wrestling careers in Southern Oregon University history.

EN: Tell us a little about yourself and your wrestling background.

JG: I am a 2002 graduate of Estacada High School. I started wrestling in 1994 when I was 9 years old, at the time we didn't have much of a kids program, so my mom drove me to the USA Cobra Wrestling Club in Portland. Once in sixth grade, I started wrestling for both Cobra and the Estacada Junior High wrestling team. I was a three-sport athlete in high school, participating in football, wrestling and track.

During high school, I was a state runner-up as a junior and a state champion my senior year in wrestling. After high school, I received a scholarship to wrestle for Southern Oregon University (SOU).

While wrestling at SOU, I was able to achieve more than almost any wrestler. I was a four-year starter and a three-time All-American, placing eighth, third and third at the national tournament. My senior year in college, I was the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country at 165-pounds the entire season. I am one of three wrestlers for SOU to have more than 100 wins in my career.

After wrestling in college, I started coaching for Crater High School; I coached there for two seasons while working on my master's degree for teaching. I came back to Estacada three years ago and brought back my beautiful wife, Liz, and my son, Braiden. I was an assistant coach at Estacada for the past three years under Heath Stalcup, and am currently in my first season as head coach. My wife and I recently extended our family, we had a daughter, Andi Marie, last spring.

EN: What drives you to spend so much time investing in these kids and this program?

JG: For me this isn't just any program, this is my program. I wrestled for this program when I was in school at Estacada, and it meant the world to me. Nothing has changed. I am a teacher here at Estacada High School, teaching health and physical education. I love working with kids. I really enjoy being able to help students reach their goals, both in the classroom and on the mat. Once I finished my college career, the next best thing for me was coaching. I knew in high school that I wanted to be a coach, and I went to college to become a teacher and coach.

While investing time in the program is enjoyable for me, it can also be tough, considering I have a young family. I am just thankful that my wife, Liz, is so supportive of me and what I do. She knows what it means to me, she knows that family aside, I live for wrestling. She is definitely my rock when I am overwhelmed, and I don't believe I could do this without her. I love watching these boys mature and develop into successful young men. There is nothing more rewarding then seeing their hard work pay off, both on and off the mat.

EN: What have you learned about coaching before getting this opportunity?

JG: I was an assistant wrestling coach for five years and have been involved with wrestling for the past 17 years. I have competed at the highest levels of the sport and have been successful at these levels. I have been a part of four different wrestling programs both as a wrestler and a coach, and have learned from some of the greatest coaches in Oregon's history. My coaches at USA Cobra Club were coach Mark Sprague and coach Scott Revis, combined they have produced more state champions, state places, college wrestlers, and All-Americans than any other program in the state of Oregon. In college, I wrestled for coach Mike Ritchey, who runs one of the most successful college programs in the nation. His program has had more than 40 consecutive winning seasons, more than any other college program in the country. After college, I coached under coach Greg Haga at Crater High School. Coach Haga has had one of the most successful high school programs in the state of Oregon, In a 9-year span his teams won the 4A (the highest division at that time) Oregon state championships seven out of nine years, and had seven top-three finishes before, in between and after those championships. He is a hall of fame coach. Since I have been back home in Estacada, I have had the privilege of working with Heath Stalcup, who in his nine years of head coach had six top-three teams in the state, and the other three teams were top-10 finishes. I also have had the privilege of working with hall of fame coach Steve Woods, who was the longtime coach at Estacada High School. He is the winningest coach in our school's history and had the only state championship team in school history. Overall, with my personal success and the experience I have learned for working with these amazing coaches, I believe I have a solid base for success.

EN: Any changes to your strategy or approach to your coaching as head coach?

JG: We have made a few changes this year since I became the head coach. Our biggest goal is to get the community and school back behind our program. Over the past few years we have lost some of the support from the community and our biggest goal, besides working hard and being successful, is to gain back the support that has been missing. I want to fill the stands, and I want people to be excited about wrestling again.

EN: What do you like to teach and instill in the kids outside of simply wrestling techniques?

JG: I believe that wrestling is the most difficult sport in the world. Anyone can play sports. You can play football, you can play basketball, you can play volleyball, but nobody plays wrestling. Wrestling is a battle, both mentally and physically. My wrestlers leave the program as young responsible and respectable men. Wrestling is the hardest thing these boys will ever have to do. Dan Gable, the greatest wrestler of all time said, 'Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy.' I believe this 100 percent because I haven't come across a trial in my life that I couldn't handle, and that is something that I owe that to my wrestling background.

EN: How do you keep kids motivated throughout the season?

JG: It's a hard grueling season, and it can be easy for the boys to lose focus or to become unmotivated. I am a naturally positive person and people who know me can tell you that I am an upbeat, happy guy. I thrive off of positive energy, and I am a natural leader and motivator. I have my team set goals, I run them through progressive relaxation, I give them positive motivating speeches and I remind them why they are here. Every kid is in this program for a reason, I reinstate that reason in their mind when they are ready to crack.

Even though we are all business when wrestling, we also are probably the funniest team to be around in school and while travelling. My kids like to have fun, and I promote it, event joining in at times.

EN: What's your favorite part about coaching and spending time with the kids?

JG: I love watching my boys accomplish their goals. I love the fact that I have had the opportunity to push them past their limits and that I have opened their eyes to new possibilities. Every kid has a different goal, some hope to win state titles, while others hope to win a single match. I love to see a kid give everything they have during a match, leaving it all out their without holding anything back. When a kid does that, I don't care if they win or lose, I am excited and it makes it all worth while for me.

I guess you could say that I live through these boys. I am a wrestling fanatic, and I can get intense when we're in duels or close matches. I have been told by my peers that I am very exciting to watch coach. I can't help it, it's something that just happens. When you wrestle for as long as I have, you live every situation and I react to what's happening on the mat without even thinking about what I'm doing. Sometimes I will realize that I am standing in some sort of awkward wrestling position during the match and have to remind myself to sit down. Its hard, I just want to be on the mat. I also get to watch a lot of great wrestling, both from my boys and from other boys across the state. Wrestling is the most exciting sport to watch (at least it is for me).

EN: What do you like to do in your free time?

JG: I am a very busy man, but fortunately I get summers off, or at least somewhat. I love spending time with my wife, Liz, and my kids Braiden and Andi. We love to go water skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, snow skiing and anything else that has to do with the outdoors.

My family is also really into Chevys. We are definitely car people. It seems that between my dad, brother and I, we always have a project in the shop. We are a very active family, and we don't ever have time to waste. We love to go to the coast to go clam digging in the spring, and we spend a lot of time on the lake in the summer. We also spend a lot of time with my relatives. I have a great family and more than a hundred of them live in Estacada, so we all like to get together. During wrestling season I have absolutely no free time, so I spend all the time I can with my wife and kids.