For many of the coaches at Fox Valley Wrestling, it’s a family affair in the gym… and at home.
Johnson: Everyday, we call it royal rumble… we royal rumble, all three versus dad.
The Head Coach
Adam Johnson is the co-head coach of the Fox Valley Wrestling Club after an illustrious collegiate career at North Central. A Cardinal Hall of Famer, inducted in 2017, Johnson is now in his first year with the club.
Johnson: We already had a great tradition set up – Mark Moller, he’s been here for 14 plus years. The program has been around for over 20 and I just think of it as divine intervention that I ended up here. My kids, my wife and I moved here a couple of years back and my oldest son decided he wanted to start wrestling. And I found myself in a position where I was like “let’s go to a club and try it out”. Next thing I know, here I am.
Johnson has three boys, two of which were pleading to give wrestling a go. Fellow coach, Ryan Hoger, also has a son in the club and has experience in the father and son tussles. Does the kid ever win?
Ryan: Nope, usually I win those. Probably saw my son earlier, running around here. Usually I win… for about two more years. Then it’s going to be a problem.
That could very well be thanks to the club in which he coaches. And it’s this family atmosphere that helps mold these young athletes.
Johnson: It’s not an individual sport. We want to be a family atmosphere and… it takes a village to raise these kids, and we want Fox Valley to be that village.
Parton: Anyone who has been apart of a team, especially a wrestling team, knows that it’s a very tight-knit brotherhood. So we really try and promote that culture here, we try to get families involved as much as we can.
The Assistant Coaches
Mike Parton is a coach with Fox Valley Wrestling Club, and also a coach with Neuqua Valley.
Parton: I also coach with the high school as well so it’s nice to be able to get to these guys at a younger age, really develop them into our program. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ll be able to do when they get to the high school.
Ultimately, the time spent in the wrestling room is an opportunity for kids to get exposure to another sport – one, these coaches might add — that carry some great life lessons.
Ryan: When they’re younger we let them try whatever they want and then over time they stay in some and not in others. Wrestling was definitely on the list of things to have them try out
Parton: you really learn how to persevere through tough situations, build skills that can get you through adversity. There’s a lot of times throughout a match, throughout a season that you may not be where you want to be, things may be going against you but you need to be able to push through, dig down deep
The goal for Johnson: teach those lessons, get the kids interested in the sport… and have fun doing it
Johnson: Hard part is you gotta make it fun too, because wrestling is tough. So we try and make it fun, that way they keep coming back. They stick with it and reap those long-term benefits.
And it sounds like he doesn’t have to sell Ryan’s son Lincoln. His favorite part?
Lincoln: Meeting the new people that have joined and seeing who there is, new competition.
New competition, which is grows – seeing as the club has added 30 new rookie wrestling. Or, from a different perspective, new family members.
Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman